How to package your message for effective lobbying
So, you're ready to communicate some concerns to the powers-that-be. But how to package your message?
Once you've got all the facts and relevant information about your issue together, take some time to distill your concerns down into written talking points. This will help you and your allies think through the process and focus your arguments.
Also, having some written talking points will help you internalize and reinforce your position so that you can effectively articulate it when the time comes.
Here are some general tips on message packaging:
Make it short
If you can’t get your message across quickly, then you haven’t finished refining it. Go back to the drawing board. Find and highlight the most important points. Define consequences of action or inaction and use vivid analogies and examples.
If it takes forever to follow an argument, then you’ve lost it.
Remember, legislative offices are flooded with paper, and they throw most of it away. Letters and fact sheets should be no more than one page in length. If a study or policy brief is more than ten pages, it should contain an executive summary of no more than one page.
Personalize the message
Theoretical and abstract arguments are not as good as explaining how an issue impacts real people’s lives. Do research to find victims as well as success stories. A victim is a “poster child” who dramatically illustrates the problems with the policy you want changed, and a success story would be a “poster child” that illustrates the good things that will happen if your policy position becomes law.
The point is to communicate something that people can easily identify with or relate to.
Know the opposition's arguments
If you understand what your opponents are saying, you will be in a better position to counter their arguments. Listening to those with an opposing view can often give you a perspective on an issue that you may have overlooked. Discuss the issue with a politician or an activist on the other side. Find out what they’re thinking.
While you personally may not agree with their views, your challenge is to gain insight into all aspects of the issue so you can build a winning message.
Remember to always be polite and courteous, yet firm in your beliefs. Then take what you’ve learned into account when finalizing your own message.
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You can find more great tips for effective grassroots activism in my Grassroots Training Series. Check it out!
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