Do’s & Don’ts of Citizen Lobbying

Do:

  • Make an appointment
  • Dress neatly
  • Be on time - but be prepared to wait
  • Introduce yourself
  • Cultivate a good rapport with the assistant and staff - they can be very helpful!
  • Stick to the subject at hand
  • Be honest If you don’t know something, say so
  • Know something about the official
  • Know the number/name of the bill and something about it
  • GET A COMMITMENT - ask them whether they will support your position.
  • Thank the public official for the meeting
  • Call in or e-mail a summary of the meeting afterwards (612-659-9124, north.star.sierraclub.org)

Don’t:

  • Be angry
  • Be hostile (I’m a taxpayer!)
  • Threaten (You’ll pay for this at the polls!)
  • Be afraid to be assertive
  • Have a lot of material (it will never be read)
  • Lose credibility (it will affect everyone who lobbies on the same subject after you)

Points to Know:

  • Most public officials are happy when their constituents visit - they’ll be friendly
  • Public officials want people to like them
  • You pay their salary, they work for you

Common Pitfalls —  Don’t Let them Throw You!

  • The public official doesn’t show up for your appointment
  • The public official is late for your appointment
  • Constant interruptions during your meeting
  • Meeting is cut short
  • Public official doesn’t have a copy of the bill/proposal or hasn’t read it
  • Public official takes control of the meeting and you never get to make your points
  • Public official asks so many questions that you find it difficult to make your point

Helpful Hints:

  • Confirm appointment the morning of the appointment
  • Bring a copy of the bill/proposal with you
  • Know exactly what you want to get from the official (yes or no vote, commitment not to vote, etc.)
  • Prioritize your points (especially important if the meeting is cut short)
  • Know your official’s background (voting record, position on the issues, personal history)
  • Try to find a common ground with the legislator
  • Make yourself available as a resource
  • Thank the assistant or staff person

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