Tips for Conducting Advocacy, Issue and Legislative Research

The way in which you conduct research as part of your efforts to lobby for a particular issue can have an important effect on the outcome of that issue. Extreme care must be exercised when preparing any research that will be utilized.

Grasshopper on a stone table
Creative Commons License photo credit: AlexYo1968

First, double-check and verify everything. This includes the names of individuals, organizations, Internet web pages, etc. Such elements can easily be misspelled or mistaken. Take the time to perform a second check.

In addition, always take confidentiality into consideration. Information can be rapidly forwarded as a part of today’s electronic world. Not only can information be leaked to the media, but it can also be forwarded to opposing interests. A good rule to follow is to make certain you never place anything in writing that you would not want to see on the front page of The Washington Post.

As you go about the process of verifying information, be certain that you keep a comprehensive record of all of your references. Operate under the assumption that your information will be highly scrutinized in public. Consider your sources carefully. Remember that not everything you read, especially in regards to the Internet, can be trusted.

Also consider the political agenda of any organization that provides information to you. Take the time to research the organization to obtain insight regarding their political leanings.

Never forward any document that has been prepared by anyone else without first providing proper attribution.

You should also always consider where your information Lobbying and Advocacy, by Deanna Gelakmay ultimately land. Even though the information you prepare may be directed to a specific member of Congress or staff person, it is entirely possible that information may be forwarded to someone else.

When conducting research, make sure you are relevant as well as concise. Your information should be tailored specifically to the interests of the policymaker. Whenever possible, try to use information from that Senator’s state or Representative’s own district. Ultimately, they are concerned with how information will affect their constituents.

Finally, clarify expectations and deadlines in advance. Be sure you know precisely the purpose of your information and how the information will be used.

To conduct more effective and more efficient research, consider one of our Research Workshops.

Reference: Section 5.4 Special Considerations for Legislative Research, in Lobbying and Advocacy, by Deanna Gelak



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