Grasstops lobbying: people who matter to those who matter
I've covered a good bit here about grassroots lobbying, with "grassroots" meaning the average citizen, but what about "grasstops"?
Simply put, grasstops refers to community leaders who matter to the elected officials or politicos you're trying to lobby. If you can match a local organization’s grassroots with a similar network of grasstops leaders, you will see a tremendous leap in the ability to influence legislators.
Grasstops is effective for many reasons.
While many legislators may deceive themselves into thinking they can ignore or fool the average constituent, they don’t usually feel the same about “Mr. Big” – and they don’t want to get on his/her bad side.
Also, legislators can become insulated from grassroots pressure, part by design and part by choice. While many legislators don’t like being bombarded by letters, they may choose not to read them. But they can’t afford not to take a phone call from the president of the largest employer in their district. Similarly, the number of phone calls coming into a legislator’s office eventually becomes irrelevant. All that registers in their minds is that they got a lot of phone calls. However, several calls from key community leaders will stick out in their minds.
Some examples of potential "grasstops" prospects:
- Large employers
- Other elected officials
- Party leaders
- Major contributors to the elected official
- Civic organization leaders
- Newspaper publishers
- Neighbors, relatives or friends (of the elected officials)
Some of these grasstops prospects may even be classified as “strange bedfellows”. That’s even better.
The rule of thumb is: who do you know who can get directly to the leg¬islator, not the staff? Whose phone calls have to get returned? Identify those people and approach them about joining your efforts.
Keep a running list of the people you identify, what they care about and who they can potentially influence. It will be a good reference for you when the next issue campaign comes up.
- How to target votes in a lobbying campaign
- Keys to lobbying success
- Good groundrules for lobbying groups
You can find more great tips for effective grassroots activism in my Grassroots Training Series. Check it out!
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