Magazine article Management Today

Crash Course in ... Lobbying

Magazine article Management Today

Crash Course in ... Lobbying

Article excerpt

There's a new bunch in power at Westminster and you don't know any of them. Meanwhile, there are a couple of thorny issues cropping up that could either prove to be to your advantage or a serious setback. So what are you going to do about it?

Think ahead. If you waited until election night to make overtures to the Tories and Lib Dems, you're already behind the game. 'Your ongoing strategy should be to talk to all relevant parties,' says Iain Anderson, chair of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations' government affairs group. 'The coalition could fissure in a year's time, so it's important to build long-term relationships even when a party is in opposition.'

Identify a need. 'It's essential your lobbying activity is tied to your overall business strategy,' says Anderson. 'Politicians won't have time for you if you are simply wanting to raise your corporate profile. The first thing they will ask is: what do you want me to do?'

Focus on policy. 'Policy takes years to formulate and if you engage early on you can be remarkably effective,' says Lionel Zetter, public affairs consultant and author of Lobbying: the art of political persuasion. 'Legislation has a very limited timetable, with limited opportunities to change things, and firefighting often doesn't succeed.'

Line up your target. Stakeholder mapping is crucial to identifying who you need to make contact with. 'You need to know who the key decision-maker is and who are the key opinion formers he or she listens to, whether they be advisers, civil servants or other ministers,' says Zetter. 'Civil servants are the real experts; if you can get the ear of the right person, you may not need to see the minister. …

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