Not just big business or large not for profits but often, individuals who are active in the community through service and activism come to care deeply about an issue and want to influence that issue through the political process. Some individuals’ entry into civic engagement may even be wanting to influence policy makers and policies directly, sparked by a passion on an issue. Regardless of the path, it’s helpful to identify one specific goal or issue for focus. While the issues that people often want to influence are complex (e.g., education, poverty, the environment etc.), in practice having a specific goal is an important part of your lobbying strategy. Focus helps drive success.
Previously in Lobbying 101 I wrote about the lobbying industry itself, or the lobbying activities that tend to end up in the news. The main goal today is to offer practical, usable advice for people who need a lobbyist – or think they might want to lobby for themselves on an issue important to them.
After focus, the next crucial step in lobbying is identifying appropriate targets whom you will then lobby. Note:
- The definition of lobby (as a verb) is: to try to influence public officials for or against a specific cause. Lobbying is a form of public policy advocacy and educating government. It is communicating with legislators and the executive branch to encourage them to take action on specific legislation. Lobbying is a part of the democratic process.
- Note that the definition identifies “public officials” not elected officials. Officials who work for the government through appointed or other means can also be important in your strategy (especially those that have the ears of elected officials). For example, people who work for the local neighborhood, city, state, and federal agencies and/or departments that affect particular policies may be effective in your strategy (especially as peers to the legislator to make the case).
- So, how do you identify key stakeholders to influence that will ultimately lead to policy or legislative change?
- Here, we will use a strategy called power mapping which is: a conceptual strategy of determining whom you need to influence, exactly who can influence your target, and whom you can actually influence to start the dominoes in motion.
Martin Milita is a senior director with Duane Morris Government Strategies, a consultancy and lobbying firm that represents clients seeking the support of state- and federal-level government agencies. Commanding a career that spans more than three decades, Martin Milita possesses extensive experience serving private and public sector clients in legislative affairs and activities. Martin Milita holds a Bachelor’s degree in Government and Politics from King’s College and a Juris Doctor from the James E. Beasley School of Law at Temple University.