Lobbying

Winning key players for your project is an important element in your implementation phase. These are people in the project's environment who are not directly involved in the project but who will promote it in the area of health politics or who can use their influence in some other way. They may be:

  • politicians
  • decision makers in administration
  • financial backers
  • experts.

For lobbying purposes it is essential to cultivate such contacts and all opportunities to talk about the project must be exploited to the full. Key players should be kept informed about the progress of the project at reasonable intervals. Lobbying can also mean convincing potential opponents to re-examine their own positions and to change their minds.

Why you would disregard these aspects

  • The investment for lobbying is too big, especially if you cannot rely on pre-established contacts.
  • You do not want to bother important people with your ideas which are not yet fully developed.
  • You are afraid of rivalries.

What you have to gain

If you succeed in recruiting key players the public will accept your project more easily. Moreover, you will gain invaluable support when trying to induce structural changes needed to assure the sustainability of the project.

What you can actually do

Regard lobbying activities as an important task:

  • Use any public and private occasion to establish useful contacts
  • Invite important contacts for an informal lunch.
  • Make optimal use of train journeys with key players by discussing your project with them.
  • Use e-mails, telephone conversations and other means of communication effectively.
  • Maintain contact with potential opponents and try to associate them with the project (e.g. in an advisory group)
  • Use your colleagues' contacts to key players.
  • Take part in events (meetings, workshops, professional training, press conferences) where you can make and maintain such contacts

Rules for lobbying (according to L. Joossens: Lobbying against tobacco)

  • be well informed
  • respect your enemies and be wary of them
  • be flexible
  • have a plan
  • find allies
  • be aware of 'the right timing'
  • choose and make contact with important people
  • provide well researched documentation
  • be far-sighted
  • start early and keep going
  • be creative
  • use the media
  • do not be easily satisfied
  • be prepared to loose some battles but do not loose sight of the final success
  • lobbying is a never ending process.

Questions for critical reflection

  • Are you undertaking active and effective lobbying activities (public relations, gaining the support of key players, making useful contacts etc)?
  • Are influential key players kept informed on the progress of the project?
  • Is contact maintained with the opponents of the project (or better still, are they associated with the project)?