NR 506 Challenges in Lobbying Strategies Discussion

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NR 506 Challenges in Lobbying Strategies Discussion

NR 506 Challenges in Lobbying Strategies Discussion

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Discuss the best approach for communicating with your local legislator or policymaker in your policy-priority issue. What is your rationale for this approach?

Challenges in Lobbying StrategiesChallenges in Lobbying Strategies

DIRECT LOBBYING VERSUS INDIRECT LOBBYING

There are two basic lobbying strategies: direct and indirect lobbying. The resources of the organization should be contrasted. The following is a menu of tactics available for selection in a direct-indirect lobbying plan. The listing of tactics is from the more effective to the less effective tactics.

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Direct Lobbying Tactics

1. Face-to-face personal lobbyist visits to elected officials.

2. Personal visits to the staff of public officials.

3. Bringing influential constituents to meet with public officials.

4. Writing letters to public officials. Personal, individual letters are best.

5. Phone calls to public officials or their staff.

6. Sending e-mails to public officials.

Indirect Lobbying Tactics

1. Grassroots lobbying campaigns.

2. Mass media advertising.

3. Public opinion polls.

4. Mass public opinion molding efforts.

5. Elite opinion molding efforts.

Direct face-to-face lobbying is “the gold standard” of lobbying. Everything else is done to support the basic form. Face-to-face lobbying is considered to be the most effective because it allows the interest to directly communicate its concerns, needs, and demands directly to those who possess the power to do something politically. The lobbyist and the public official exist in a mutually symbiotic relationship. Each has something the other desperately needs. The interest seeks governmental assistance and the public official seeks political support for future elections or political issue campaigns. The environment for such lobbying discussions is usually the spaces outside the legislative chambers or perhaps the offices of the legislators. The legislative arena has characteristics that facilitate the lobbying process. It is complex and chaotic. Out of the thousands of bills that might be introduced in a legislative session, sometimes fewer than a hundred are actually passed. There is never enough time to complete the work on the agenda—not even a fraction of the work. The political process tends to be a winner-takes-all game—often a zero-sum game given the limited resources available and seemingly endless lists of demands that request some allocation of resources. Everyone in the process desperately needs information and the most frequent (and most useful) source of information is the lobbyist. The exchange is simple: the lobbyist helps out the governmental officials by providing them with information and the government official reciprocates by helping the interests gain their objectives. There is a cycle to every governmental decision-making site. At crucial times in those cycles the needs of the officials or the lobbyists may dominate. For lobbyists in a legislative site the crucial moments are as the session goes down to its final hours. For legislators, the closer they are to the next election, the more responsive they are to lobbyists who possess resources that may help them win the next election. In the old days, bribery was very important to many legislators; those days are almost completely gone now. The danger of exposure and personal disaster is too great to risk in today’s mass media-dominated society. In today’s political world, the public officials’ greatest interest is in getting the resources they need to stay in office and lobbyists are crucial to getting those resources.

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