Lobby Like a Pro

South Carolina State House

Legislators

  • Know the Legislators in your district, and try to build a relationship with them. You can find your legislators at: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/legislatorssearch.php
  • Know them by site and study their profiles. Photos are all over the Web.
  • Check them out on their campaign websites, like their Facebook page and follow their Twitter accounts.
  • Look up the bill and the committee where your bill will go through. http://www.scstatehouse.gov/billsearch.php
  • If a similar bill, look up the vote history. Start with those that voted for the bill.
  • Legislators are normal people. Elected officials, and all of their staff are more “reachable” than you may assume.

Staff

  • Nothing is as persuasive and satisfying as showing up at the Capitol Building and sitting down in a legislator’s office.
  • ALWAYS be courteous and invest in the staff (don’t underestimate them).
  • Go together to your Senators’ offices. Always have a veteran advocate partner with you for support.

Meetings

  • Make an appointment! This is the big one.
  • Dress for success! Wear comfortable shoes. People who look professional are more persuasive.
  • Men: Wear a nice jacket, slacks and a tie, or a suit.
  • Women: Wear a dress; or pants, blouse, and a jacket.
  • Bring 100 business cards. Leave one at every office.
  • Bring your child/patient along, especially if you have a sick child/patient who may benefit from the new law. If it’s not feasible, bring a photo with their name, age, hometown, and condition.
  • Have one or two compelling facts about your child/patient and their condition.
  • Bring printed material. A single page of text in a large font, with bullet points, will last longer than the vague memory of a casual chat.
  • Start with “Thanks”. Show some appreciation. It sets a nice tone for the interaction, and opens anyone up to be a better listener.
  • Be considerate and ask if they have time to speak.
  • Have a game plan.
  • Even if you don’t get the outcome from a meeting, the relationship is worth the investment.
  • The ultimate goal should be to make a personal connection and gain trust. You want them to know that you are a credible, smart information source.
  • Secondary goal is to request support.
  • Leave a fact sheet (one page) behind.
  • Take notes, including on the legislators.

Meeting Follow-Up

  • ALWAYS follow up with an email, phone call or a thank you note.
  • Address any concerns or questions they may have had.

Testimony at a Committee Hearing

  • In the interest of time, not everyone will speak, but there are a lot of people who care about this issue, so have them stand up.
  • Be selective of personal story; it can be overwhelming.
  • Keep testimony to 3-5 key points or know how much time is allotted.
  • Never read your testimony. Just have bullets.
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