Engaging the Media as an Advocate and Lobbyist

Each year, countless dollars are spent on public relations efforts that are specifically designed to capture the attention of legislators. Whether it is an advertisement in Roll Call or a web site ad meant to persuade busy lawmakers and staff, a creative array of messages are developed to formulate a successful advocacy campaign.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Daquella manera

The media can be a powerful vehicle for disseminating information regarding policy debates. Therefore, it is necessary to have a solid understanding of the best way to work with the media as well as with media distribution resources.

Lobbyists are frequently called upon to organize media events, introduce public officials, prepare congressional testimony, and serve as a spokesperson. The message you want to deliver will be competing with an increasing number of messages. This presents increased challenges for lobbyists in getting their message out.

The rule of knowing your audience is particularly applicable when it comes to influencing public policy–the ultimate goal of legislative media coverage is to influence the outcome of public policy. Your goal is to reach critical constituents with your message. Simply gaining media exposure is not sufficient, you must influence the public opinion that actually drives legislation.

You must also plan and coordinate. An effective public relations strategy depends on anticipating your public affairs activities in advance and then coordinating the legislative and public relations staff of your organization. Lobbying and Advocacy, by Deanna GelakOne of the biggest and most common mistakes many lobbyists make is failing to include media relations staff in the early stages of planning a legislative campaign. Including experienced and qualified media affairs professionals can prove to be invaluable in your efforts to develop new strategies. The key is to make sure you plan in advance.

Reference: Lobbying and Advocacy, by Deanna Gelak, Section 10.2 Media Engagement






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