How to Lobby

Learning how to lobby has become necessary these days if you want to influence people with the decisions that are made by the government. You must know how to use your voice for promoting change. The change can happen anywhere from local to federal level. Lobbying can include using your own influence for guiding legislation in Congress or for effect in regulations at the federal agency.

A person who is a lobbyist is a person who will try influencing the legislation on behalf of the all the members from the lobby. Governments will always define and regulate the organized group lobbying, which has become influential. Here are some simple steps on how to lobby.

Visits

  • Always remember that nothing can beat a personal meeting with the member of congress. If you get face time with the member of congress, this means that, you know your message has reached to the member. This will give you a chance to gage about how well the message has reached them. However, keep in mind that it can be tough to get one on one time with the member of congress.
  • You can try other methods of delivering the message in the meeting with the congressional staff. Remember that meeting with the right staff is much more effective than meeting with one congress member. The staff may look young, but this does mean that they are uninformed.
  • If you are planning to visit a member of congress, then you will have to contact the ATS government relations office at 202-296-9770 or you can e-mail them at advocacy@thoracic.org (this is only for US). The government relations office will assist with all the information you need on the current issues, protocol, talking points and everything else, which will help you in becoming a capital hill. You can also ask the ATS government relations mentor to accompany you, when you go for a visit.

Letter

  • Remember that you must communicate with the elected official by writing a letter, because writing to them is also an effective way to communicate. However, make sure that the letter is concise and you will have to summarize all the key points in one page. Try to use your personal experience for explaining why a certain issue is more important to you. It is very important that you add a return address and a telephone number where they can reach you easily. Whenever you are contacting the member of congress, remember that you have to be very polite, professional; you must have enough knowledge about your issue along with legislation and the member of congress viewpoint on the same issue.

Telephone

  • For people in US, you can easily reach the congress by calling on the US capital switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Tell them that you want to speak with your congress member or with their health legislative assistant. Tell them that you are a constituent who would want to discuss a certain issue with the representative or senator. They will not connect you to the congressman or representative right away, but don’t let this be deterrent. Remember that persistence is a key factor when it comes to advocacy. 

E-mail

  • An email is one of the quickest ways for sending a message to the member of congress. The advocacy section of the ATS website is a best place to start looking when to send emails to the capital hill. You will have the option to use the preformatted messages, which will help in discussing the issues, which are currently placed before the congress. If there is some other issue you want to discuss with your congressman, speak to them directly and this will bring you to your elected officials. All you need to do is click on the email button and you can mail your officials on any subject of your choice. 

Follow Up

  • Contacting your congress member for encouraging them to vote in your way on a certain issue is a good step, but this is just half the process. If your congress member has voted in support of your issue, then immediately send them a thank you note and mention that you will be sharing the news amongst your colleagues. If they have voted against you, send them a note, in a polite manner telling them how you are disappointed and ask them to give you a reason for going against you.

This is the entire process of lobbying, so go ahead and try to influence the legislation in congress.


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