Who is the Right Public Official for the Issue?

Who you lobby is just as important as the issue you are lobbying about.  The first thing to be sure of is that you are a constituent of whomever you want to meet with.  This of course does not apply to regulatory officials, but it does to anyone who is elected to office.  Most elected officials or their staff members will ask for your name and address prior to a meeting in order to verify you are a constituent.  If you are organization a lobby day and have several persons from different areas who want or need to lobby together, that is perfectly fine.  Just be sure that in every meeting there is at least one legitimate constituent for each public official.

issuesIf the issue is local, talk to local officials; if it is nation, talk to federal officials.  The key is to be able to tell any elected officials you talk to how embracing your issue or you side of an issue will affect their constituents or how it will affect the area represented by the public officials.  If you are targeting regulatory officials, such as the head of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, about a policy that is open for public comment, be sure to state why you personally are writing and want the policy to go your way.  If you can provide facts to back your position or other evidence that supports why your position would also be best for others, be sure to include that as well.  If you have a meeting with a regulatory official, you should be ready to discuss your reasons and have them ready to present.

Do not limit who you lobby by party, gender, or voting record.  While such categorization is helpful in identifying potential allies for specific issues, don’t rule out public officials who on paper wouldn’t appear receptive to your issue.  To do so would mean automatically giving up on almost half of our public officials at almost any level of government.  No activist or issue community can afford to write off or ignore half of the political community if they want to gain true political and social progress for their issue.

No matter who you lobby or what issue you lobby, the most valuable element of citizen lobbying is making the connection with your public official.  Putting a face to your issue for that official or staffer is a big step in humanizing your issue, making it more personal for him or her, and making you part of the public policy discussion.

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