How to Get the Most Out of Your Lobbying Firm
You’ve hired your lobbyist, but the buck doesn’t stop there. Signing a contract is just the first step in your journey to change, amend or add legislation that supports your organization’s strategy. Below are five steps to ensure you are working to support your lobbyist to get the desired outcome.
Be upfront and honest with your expectations from the first conversation. Your lobbyist will start your legislative action plan by providing a clear understanding of how long the process will take, expected roadblocks and unexpected roadblocks. Make sure to take notes and ask clarifying questions regarding contingency plans and budget parameters. In this conversation, you should outline your biggest priorities and how you define success.
When there are a number of objectives you’re looking to accomplish, it’s important to prioritize because, along the way, you may need to compromise on one or more pieces of your legislation to move forward. Over-communication is critical in your working relationship with your lobbyist, he/she may need to make decisions on your behalf, and you’ll want to make sure they are prepared to do so.
Build a Rapport
Inform your lobbyist of your organization and the nuances within your industry niche. In an ideal situation, whomever you hire should be well-versed in your industry, but it’s your job to update the policy specialist on the details of your specific challenges. If you don’t already have it, put together a legislative deck outlining what you’re trying to accomplish, your mission and vision statement, lingo, competitive landscape, and all pertinent details of your organization. That way, no matter the situation, your lobbyist has the answer on hand.
Your lobbyist may need to speak publicly on your behalf, especially if you’re not physically close to the Capitol. For small, new, or budget-constrained companies, it just won’t make sense to jump on a plane for a committee hearing. Committee hearings can change at a moment’s notice, the result of which will dictate the fate of your bill, which is why your lobbyist should be able to speak on your behalf with the same enthusiasm for your cause.
All fifty states have elected senators and representatives that comprise the legislature. The process of a bill becoming a law is referred to as the legislative process. During the legislative calendar, elected individuals introduce new bills, amend, and vote on legislation to create laws. The exact process is specific to each state and is readily available with a quick google search.
Familiarize yourself with the process because there are many steps, and at each step, many elected officials will participate in the outcome of your legislation. At each stage, there is an opportunity to move forward or backward. It’s your lobbyist’s responsibility to push the bill forward and anticipate challenges. It’s your responsibility to have an understanding of the process, so there are no surprises along the way. When in doubt, ask questions, your lobbyist is your guide.
There are many ways to participate, but all your participation needs to be strategic. We do not recommend you or members of your organization go rogue and independently reach out to legislators. Representatives have preferred communication methods, buzz words that pique their interests and pain points, your lobbyist will know all these, which will guide their strategy.
A few of the ways your lobbyist may ask for your cooperation are coordinated visits to the statehouse, meetings with representatives and interest groups, and expert witness at testimony and committee hearings. Be prepared to make your case directly with the decision-makers your lobbyist connects you with. As with any good sales pitch, these efforts should be mapped out thoughtfully.
Trust the Right Hire
We can not overemphasize the importance of hiring an advocate with the right tools for your cause; you will save countless hours and a ton of money. To understand how to make the right hire, read our complete article here.
The most taxing step in the process can often be patience. The lobbyist is the expert, and while you are paying them to facilitate your agenda; if you’ve chosen correctly, you must trust their process. Retaen has access to some of the most trusted and reputable lobbyists working in the field today, so when you’re ready to hire, look no further. Our team will match you with an expert in your industry at no cost to you. Contact Anna Beauregard by email, Anna@retaen.com, or by phone, (833) 273-8236, to get started.