Lobbying-tips-and-tricks

Tips for a Transparent and Effective Lobbying Campaign

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As regulations and reporting requirements continue to evolve, it’s increasingly important that lobbying campaigns demonstrate transparency and accountability.

Lobbying is no longer about who you know; it’s about what you know. Tracking and reporting your activities is essential, not just to run successful campaigns but also to minimize the risks of non-compliance.

In this article we’ll look at some tips to help you run more successful lobbying campaigns and find out how using specialized software can eliminate information silos, blind spots, and mixed messages.

How businesses can adapt to stricter lobbying rules

Lobbying activities are governed by a set of rules that are becoming increasingly strict (see: Canada’s opposition party promising tougher anti-corruption rules). 

Lobbying activities must be declared quarterly in Canada and the U.S. The Lobbying Disclosure Act requires registrants to report specific information on the nature of the lobbying activities on quarterly activity reports. 

Putting together such reports can be a long and cumbersome process when there’s no formal system in place for centralizing information. Using a fit-for-purpose software allows you to produce reliable and professional-looking reports at the drop of a hat.   

Having full traceability and a single point of truth also minimizes the risk of questionable practices that could put your reputation in hot water. Reference historical information when asked.  Pull up this information quickly and demonstrate that your lobbying team is working in line with company policies on lobbying activities. 

 And that’s how you increase stakeholder trust. 

How to improve lobbying campaigns

Here’s how stakeholder engagement software and the right methodology make it easier to improve lobbying campaigns. 

  • It centralizes all stakeholder information, lobbying strategies and related activities such as conversations and meetings, follow-ups, issues, concerns, commitments and more – complete with delegated resources, assigned individuals and deadlines. 
  • It tracks progress and stakeholder sentiment and position in real time, letting you know if you’re engaging with the right stakeholders and if your lobbying efforts are moving the needle forward. 
  • It creates a lasting institutional memory of all lobbying data and activities, even as stakeholders change and team members come and go. 
  • It protects all sensitive information while making need-to-know information instantly accessible to those with access rights, both inside or outside the organization – such as a partner. 
  • It provides real-time monitoring and full traceability to minimize the risk of anyone “going rogue” within the organization. 

6 ways to use stakeholder software to strengthen lobbying campaigns

There are countless ways in which a good stakeholder software can help you run more successful lobbying campaigns. Here are 6: 

1. Identify key individuals/groups who may support you

To proactively engage with stakeholders and hit targets on specific issues or public policies, you need to understand your stakeholder landscape. Stakeholder mapping is therefore the first step in planning out a lobbying campaign.   

Mapping stakeholders in stakeholder software is lightyears beyond the “static boards or post-it notes arranged in quadrants on the wall” technique from 20 years ago: 

  • Effortlessly map stakeholders by level of influence, support or position. 
  • Turn your stakeholder analysis into action and create an engagement plan for legislators you know will support you on key issues. Delegate tasks and monitor follow-ups to make sure they’re helping you move the needle. 
  • Track the progress of lobbying initiatives and the commitments you’re getting from stakeholders; measure them against initial targets. 
  • Monitor changes in the stakeholder landscape in real-time and change course accordingly. 

Best practice: Mention other lawmakers or influential organizations that support your stance.

This shows you’re not alone and have relevant backing.   

Stakeholder mapping lets you assess individuals (lawmakers) and influential organizations to see who supports your stance. You can then create a “support position” table widget in the software to track these stakeholders over time to ensure you still have their support. The political landscape changes quickly and turnover is inevitable; having the support of key influencers, regardless of changes, is important.  

key-influencers

2. Get more from face-to-face meetings

Smart lobbying means being strategic. One way to do this is to walk into meetings free of blind-spots.  

  • Before the meeting, use the software or its mobile app to quickly review details of previous conversations with any given stakeholder – not just those that you personally participated in, but those of colleagues as well. Tribal knowledge makes it easy to know the best way to get your message through. 
  • Need to confirm a detail in the middle of a meeting? Use the mobile app. 
  • Use the app to take snapshots of business cards. The information will be automatically populated in the software. If it’s a new stakeholder, the software immediately creates the record for you. 

3. Eliminate information gaps and missed follow-ups

Don’t let useful information fall into oblivion. Record it and put it to future good use. 

  • Walk out of meetings and while details are still fresh in your mind, use the app’s voice-to-text feature to record the mood, attendees, any names mentioned, any commitments made, any concerns raised that require monitoring or follow-up, etc. 
  • Immediately create tasks and set deadlines in the software to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.  
  • Did someone mention a name that wasn’t on your radar? Easily add this new stakeholder, map them and add them to the relevant engagement strategy. Grow your relationship network and understand the influence dynamics at play. 

4. Make the most of limited resources

Use the software to follow allocated timelines and budgets for each issue and campaign in real time. Always have a global view of your lobbying strategy and easily drill down for details in just a few easy clicks. Iyou see that resources need to be reallocated, you can make the necessary changes in minutes. 

5. Avoid missed opportunities

With a centralized software, everyone is working with the same tool and database. Information is no longer scattered across multiple spreadsheets and inboxes – exposing sensitive information to risk. 

See: Top 3 Reasons Why You Need to Stop Using Spreadsheets to Manage Stakeholders

In other words, you can now arrive at any meeting anywhere and speak with a level of detail that shows your team is aligned and on the ball. A great way to build trust with stakeholders. 

If you’re visiting a region, you can see in the software: 

  • Who else is working in the region 
  • What lobbying opportunities exist on a given issue 
  • The history of key interactions 
  • Details of these interactions to acce

6. Track your progress

Stakeholder software comes with ready-made dashboards that let you easily monitor the results of lobbying campaigns in real time. Some also include templates so that you can customize them as desired.  

The software lets you monitor virtually anything: 

  • How many elected officials you’ve been able to reach on key issues and policies. 
  • If you’ve been able to move the needle on these issues. 
  • What the current sentiment is around these issues and how it’s changed over time. 
  • What commitments key stakeholders have made. 
  • How their stance has changed over time and if it correlates with your engagement activities. 
  • Etc. 

See how one national rail operator is leveraging the on-demand institutional memory in its software to have more consistent and focused discussions with government stakeholders to build continuity and trust.

Risks to avoid in lobbying campaigns

Stakeholder software makes it easy to avoid some of the common mistakes in lobbying. 

Being “over” or “under” at the end of the trimester 

Stakeholder software eliminates this risk with dashboards that put key indicators front and center, making real-time monitoring easy.  

Easily see if a campaign is going over in time or gift expenditures. You’ll be less likely to find yourself in a “stretched-too-thin” situation that can dilute your success – or caught in a red zone when reporting activities at the end of the quarter. 

Sending mixed/wrong messages 

Stakeholder software lets you create campaigns with a clear outline of the messages that need to be communicated and the goals that need to be reached. Team members will always have the same vision and discussions, and all communications and actions will flow from this. 

When teams work in silos, they rarely have a 360° view of all conversations taking place with policy influencers and decision makers. With stakeholder software for lobbying, the key details of these conversations are all recorded and easy to access.

Excessive targeting  

Poor coordination of lobbying efforts increases the risk of a stakeholder shutting you out. Having a clear schedule of planned communications and follow-ups with lawmakers that everyone can easily access will eliminate the urge to contact them over and over again.  

Team members can easily see what’s coming up, who’s on the task, when they complete it, what the outcome is and what comes next. Everyone is always on the same page.If a team member goes on leave or is suddenly pulled away on another assignment, another member (including new hires) can easily pick up right where the last conversation left off. 

Team members can easily see what’s coming up, who’s on the task, when they complete it, what the outcome is and what comes next. Everyone is always on the same page.If a team member goes on leave or is suddenly pulled away on another assignment, another member (including new hires) can easily pick up right where the last conversation left off. 

How to choose the right lobbying campaign software

Not all software will offer the same functionalities and user-friendliness. And not all lobbying teams are functioning at the same maturity level of data management. 

Here are some of the key benefits to look for in a lobbying software:  

  • Feature-rich but flexible enough so that your team can start off using it as heavily or lightly as its wants, and then build up usage as it becomes more comfortable working with the tool.
  • Supports your existing work methods but also offers room for continuous improvement. Some software are built based on best practices from a global community of users. 
  • Full user onboarding and training along with ongoing support. Extensive resource center with how-tos so that users can get quick answers to common questions. 
  • Intuitive user interface and ability to customize fields to reflect your own internal lingo. Some software also localizes languages for global/multilingual teams. 
  • Adheres to industry data security standards and complies with data protection and privacy laws, such as GDPR, when operating internationally.   
  • Regular updates, new features, etc. You’ll never have to worry about the software becoming obsolete or too restrictive. 
  • New features based on user requests. You want software that works for you, not the other way around. 
  • Long track record of real-world use. Your team needs to focus on improving lobbying outcomes, not waste time on support calls. 
  • Developed by stakeholder engagement professionals. You want the team supporting you to understand the world you operate in. 

 Also worth considering: 

Is the tool flexible enough so that other departments such as regulatory affairs, community engagement, communications, and scientific engagement could benefit from it as well? Having multiple teams feed the system provides a holistic view of issues and concerns affecting the organization or industry based on field knowledge – breaking down silos further.  In this case, choose a software that lets you segregate data with access rights. 

See why teams rely on Borealis stakeholder software to improve their lobbying campaigns. 

Get started with Borealis stakeholder engagement software today!