Monday, May 6, 2013

The Lobbyist's Secret Weapon

Today's guest post was contributed by Edward Segal, CAE. He is CEO of the Marin Association of Realtors.

Of course, my association has used lobbying techniques to sway lawmakers (meeting with them, testifying at hearings, sending them position papers, and asking members to call their offices).

But when these tactics failed, we brought out our secret weapon: PR. 

Working like a powerful spotlight, PR helps you stand out from the crowd and focuses attention on your position. To use PR as a lobbying tool for your organization:
Turn advocacy into news. Position your lobbying activities as interesting and newsworthy.

Flex your muscle. In your news releases and other press materials, include boilerplate language about the size and scope of your organization, details about the economic impact of members, or other information that shows the influence of the association.  

Study the media. Pay attention to the stories covered by news organizations. The types of news they cover today provide powerful clues about the stories they may be interested in doing tomorrow.

Think like an editor. Identify as many news hooks and story angles about your lobbying campaigns as possible. Give the media as many reasons as you can to do stories about your advocacy activities.

Write like a journalist. Prepare news releases as the news stories you want them to be.

Keep your audience in mind. Provide your target audience with the information it needs to understand the reasons for your lobbying efforts, what you are trying to accomplish, and what the public can or should do to help ensure victory.

Create visuals. Excellent visuals and compelling stories are important to all news mediums. For example, a photo, chart or graph will literally make your story larger on a Website or newspaper page; good pictures can help attract the attention of online news outlets and television stations.

Be prepared. Make sure those who will talk to the press are properly trained, with special emphasis on answering pointed or negative questions from reporters.
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