The art of lobbying

The discipline of lobbying has a chequered history and sadly suffers a rather tainted reputation.

That’s because the role of a lobbyist is primarily to influence others and the easiest way to influence many people is to offer inducements. All too often those can take the form of financial incentives and things can get messy, not to mention illegal.

But a lobbyist is like a lawyer. They use their communication skills to assist a client achieve an objective. More often than not that objective is to modify the proposed form or content of legislation or regulation. Consequently, those targeted by lobbyists tend to be politicians and senior bureaucrats.

It’s a fascinating occupation and I am a registered lobbyist in every state and territory of Australia. I will stress that I value integrity and do endeavour to achieve success for my clients by intelligence and passion rather than spin or subterfuge.

People often wonder how I go about my task so here is a brief guide.

The first, last and pre-eminent lesson of lobbying politicians is that It’s ALL about votes.

So, the challenge becomes to translate every issue into how it could win or lose them votes. Nothing else matters to them. But people always go in and ask for what they themselves want. They frequently ignore what the politician wants: and who among us is above self-interest?

ALWAYS frame a case so that there is some perceived benefit to the politician – no matter how tenuous!

It’s like applying for a job. Never tell an employer how the job will be good for you. Tell the employer how you will benefit the employer. Simple common sense but a ridiculous number of people just don’t get it. They’re too selfish. And not because they’re bad people, but just because they have not thought things through.

If someone is going to pay you $50,000-$100,000 a year then surely they are going to want to know that you can help them earn that much by your effort. If not, why would they bother with you?

Of course, as with lawyers, if the risk of losing seems far too dreadful (life behind bars can be SO constraining) then use the skills of a professional and maximise your prospects for success. It’s just commonsense.