I developed an aversion to lobbyists when I was a candidate for election to Parliament. Given it is the job of lobbyists to seduce actual and would-be MPs, so that they will regard their cause or client favourably, you might think something had gone wrong. It had!
And it’s a shame – because so many of the organisations and causes that lobbied me had views that should have found me a willing audience.
What went wrong? Generally lobbyists didn’t understand how and when to present their case. As it’s simplest – candidates in elections are at their very busiest in the immediate run-up to an election. So is that the best time to approach? No! Yet many organisations stay quiet for four years and then suddenly think the four weeks of a general election are the best time to make contact. There are good and bad times all through the Parliamentary cycle – and you’ve got to know them.
And the amount of money organisations pour into the glossy brochures and lobby companies needs to be well spent. From what I could see – it was more about the lobbyists ticking boxes and telling their clients that they had contacts x-thousand of candidates and had x responses.
No – my advice to those who seek my support is to think about me. Think about my time commitment. Think what will really benefit the cause – and what you really want me to do, and how to break it down into simple, easy to get started requests. Then you will build up a dialogue and in time a long-term relationship.
My life is over-flowing with information. You may want me to take onboard your information, but what’s the reason why I should? No matter how worthy your cause or how persuasive your case – there is not enough time in the day for me to take on board every worthwhile or relevant scrap of information. So how do you make your own cause really stand out?
You have to know me, and think of me as a person – not as one of a group of MPs or candidates. It’s not all touchy feely by any means. Top statistics to support a cause are the absolute bees knees for me personally. The lobbyists who provide local statistics, local activities, local information etc – they are the ones who really get through.
Tick box campaigning begets tick box support. Make it real. Make it worthwhile. Make it genuine. I am nobody’s fodder!
Written forInsight Public Affairs’s 2008/09 guide to good and bad lobbying.
(c) Lynne Featherstone, 2008
Pingback: Training people in how to lobby an MP | Lynne Featherstone MP
Until the fees fiasco I didn’t read these blogs, but I’m beginning to think they’re a must for their sheer comedic potential.
I quote: “And the amount of money organisations pour into the glossy brochures and lobby companies needs to be well spent. From what I could see – it was more about the lobbyists ticking boxes and telling their clients that they had contacts x-thousand of candidates and had x responses.”
When was the last time you looked at your own party literature? I seem to recall a lot of box ticking, followed by glossy brochures telling us what a wonderful job you’re doing on our behalf.