The legislative environment can involve a high degree of pressure and present challenges to the lobbyist for strategic planning. Organizations that take time to invest in staff training, strategic planning and goal updates will be rewarded in the long term, including sustained legislative success and effective representation of client or member interests. Strategic planning can also provide crisis avoidance.
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When it comes to planning strategies, you want to “plan your planning.” Whenever practical and feasible, schedule strategic planning sessions during congressional recesses or during other times when lobbying work is likely to be slow. Effective planning requires intense concentration and it is better to schedule your planning sessions when you will be free from distractions.
You may find that a change of venue can benefit your team in developing press ideas and perspectives as you revamp and refine your plans. In order to minimize interruptions and distractions, establish ground rules regarding the use of electronic devices during such planning sessions. At the same time, expect the unexpected and build in some flexibility to your plans to allow for new issues and unexpected developments.
Effective lobbyists work toward building a balance of communication and advocacy with those organizations they represent. In particular, lobbyists must balance their direct lobbying through advocacy work, interacting with those they represent, departmental and inter-departmental organizational activities and activities that are necessary for meeting long-term goals.
Rather than merely responding to issues as they arise, keep the end goal in mind and ensure you have a plan that will prepare you for upcoming legislative sessions. Ask yourself what it is that you will be most proud to announce at the end of the year? Once you have that picture visualized, work toward developing a plan for making it happen.
For more information about effective planning and advocacy, consider TheCapitol.Net’s 1-day course, Strategies for Working with Congress: Effective Communication and Advocacy on Capitol Hill and their 3-day Capitol Hill Workshop.
Reference: Lobbying and Advocacy, by Deanna Gelak, Section 6.2 Basic Government Affairs Planning Strategies
- Congressional Operations Briefing – Capitol Hill Workshop
- Congressional Dynamics and the Legislative Process
- Drafting Federal Legislation and Amendments
- Understanding Congressional Budgeting and Appropriations
- Advanced Legislative Procedure
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