Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Bookmark and Share As we come to the end of 2010 and Christmas approaches, please accept my warmest wishes to you and your family.  The below video is something I hope you will enjoy on behalf of myself and my wife, Carolina.

Merry Christmas and Season’s Greetings,
Mark A. Buzan, APR

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ten Signs You’re Ready for a PR Firm

Recently, I came across this great article I think is rather relevant to the non-profit sector.  Although it addresses the private sector, the article is relevant as many NPO execs face the challenge of knowing when it's best to hire an outside source or not.  take a look at let me know your thoughts: 

Ten Signs You’re Ready for a PR Firm
By Dorothy Crenshaw
It’s been an interesting fall so far for the PR business. At an annual forum hosted by the Council of PR Firms, P&G Chief Marketing Officer Marc Pritchard headlined his keynote by calling PR “the most authentic form of marketing.” He followed up with splashy PR case histories featuring powerhouse P&G brands. A week later, B2B marketing blogger Chris Koch offered a journalist’s perspective. “The era of PR is dead. As in over. Don’t do it anymore,” urges Koch. And he makes some valid points about the shrinking pool of media targets and the inefficiency of the agency model.  
So, how should a marketer size up an investment in PR? When, and how, does a public relations ramp-up with an outside firm fit into the mix?
Here are a few signs that additional PR support may be worthy of consideration.
1.  You have news. You might think that actually having news means you don’t need to invest in PR or media relations, and that’s possible. But it’s more likely you’ll benefit from a professional approach to the opportunity. A new product launch, rebranding, executive change, acquisition or expansion — those are often situations where you have only one chance to shape earned media coverage and tell your story.
2.  There are misperceptions about your brand. What PR does, often with greater depth and credibility than other forms of marketing communications, is inform your customers, employees and others about a complex, sensitive, or emerging issue. It takes time, but earned media is frequently a key channel to help clear up misinformation, get your story out, and educate your constituencies.
3.  Your industry’s in transition. And you’re driving change, or handling it successfully. Sure, category creators like Starbucks and Amazon more easily reap PR benefits by being the disrupters, but a “discovery” brand has real appeal as a reflection of a business trend or category shift.
4.  You’re bucking a trend. Even better than leading a trend, sometimes, is defying it. It’s a good time to shape a compelling story if you can talk about why you successfully zig when others zag.
5.  You have a reputation problem. Maybe there’s news, but it’s not good. If a Google search links your brand or corporate name with words like “complaints,” “rip-off,” or “slumlord,” it’s clearly time to call in the PR cavalry, or to look at a blend of reputation PR and SEO.  
6.  A competitor is framing the conversation in your space. If a rival is shaping perception about your category, or worse, misrepresenting facts, you can probably benefit from a PR-driven education campaign. A common reason clients call on agencies is to help level the communications field when a competitor makes claims that simply aren’t sustainable.
7.  You’re already getting some PR, but it’s sporadic and unplanned. And you haven’t been able to take advantage or build on it. A professional PR team cannot exercise control over a publicity result, but they can influence it, provide consistency, and maximize visibility to key channels.
8.  You have a large advertising investment. P&G’s Pritchard calls PR a “megaphone that amplifies the brand message.” In my experience, a strategic PR investment can work wonders in extending a sports sponsorship or creative ad campaign, for a relatively small investment.
9.  You have no advertising budget. PR can’t do what advertising does, and ideally, the two work together as complementary programs. But where advertising is out of reach, a strategic PR and media relations campaign can help drive brand and product visibility, build allies, and enhance reputation.
10.  You could do it yourself but don’t have time. I’ve caught flack for saying it, but many clients are fully capable of handling their own PR, particularly those who serve a trade or niche audience. And I’ve always felt that companies should own key trade media and analyst relationships. But a CEO makes a poor PR practitioner, and the in-house staff tends to get sucked into internal issues. The beauty of an outside team isn’t just objectivity, but accountability.
Do you have others to add to the list? Please share in the comments – we’d love to hear from you.
Please Don’t miss a post! …Receive new posts like this from MENG marketing executives automatically in your inbox by subscribing right here!
Photo is “I love PR” by DoktorSpinn.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

5 Ways to to Make Your Lobby Meeting Successful

Bookmark and ShareOne of the strategies I employ in getting across an organization's message is coordinating meetings with legislators.  Meeting with a Member of Parliament, a Senator, or even a Cabinet Minister (often considered the "holy grail") is often one of those services most sought.  But organizing a meeting and making certain it produces a positive experience involves more than just asking for an appointment.  When I coordinate a meeting with MPs or Senators, here are some of the methods and recommendations left for clients:

1.    Plan for your meeting to last 20 minutes or so. Bring the following materials to the meeting:
•    Your contact info
•    One-pager info sheet on the issue you advocating
•    One-pager on your asks
•    Copy of the bill or regulation you are seeking to amend, as appropriate
•    Photos of events, letters from constituents, articles from local media, and any other items that demonstrate the popularity or sense of the issue you are pushing

2.    At the meeting, introduce, and show why your issue is important in your community
•    When you introduce yourself, say that you are a constituent.  If you are not a constituent, it might be best to demonstrate how you relate to their region and the impact your issue will have on the legislator’s constituents.  Explain why your issue is important to you.
•    Show that you’re there representing many voters. Describe the group you represent as specifically as possible, including number of members. Include specific evidence that your proposal is important to many constituents. Provide photos from any recent events you’ve held. Give them copies of articles or op-eds about your issue from your local paper

3.    Thank the Member of Parliament or Senator for taking the meeting
•    Be sure to start off by thanking the elected official for any actions s/he has previously taken on your issue. This is important because it lets them know that their constituents are keeping an eye on their record.
•    Make sure you know which committees they sit on or other leadership positions s/he holds.  This will help you frame your asks in a way that appeals to his/her interests
•    …By the way…make sure to acknowledge and thank the efforts of the legislators staff, in particular the scheduling assistant and political staff.  They may not have the votes you need but they have the legislator’s assistants are the one’s that have an MP/ Senator’s ear

4.    What if they have questions or concerns?
•    If they seem hesitant to support what you’re asking for, ask them directly what you can do to make this easier for them – do they need more information? More evidence that this is important to voters? Then, after the meeting, send them that info.
•    They may try to get off topic by taking about other issues and accomplishments. Listen politely, thank them, and then get back on track. You can say something like, “That’s great. I hope that you can further demonstrate your commitment to constituents by voting for this upcoming legislation.”
•    If you’re asked a question that you don’t know the answer to, say, “I don’t have that information now, but I can get it to you.” Then be sure to send it to them after the meeting.
•    Remember to listen. While you always want to steer the conversation back to your asks, listening to their concerns and priorities will help you meet them so they’re more likely to want to work with you.

5.    Follow up, follow up, follow up. The lobby meeting is only the beginning. The most important part is the follow-up that you do afterwards
•    Leave with a clear understanding of what the their position is and what s/he will do. At the end of the meeting, schedule a good date and time when you can call to follow up. This way, you can ensure that they’ve done what you asked.
•    Leave your contact info, and be sure to get their contact info too.
•    Send an email afterwards thanking him/her for the meeting, providing him/her with any materials you promised, and politely reminding him/her of the time for your phone call.
•    If you met with a staffer, call the staffer at the time you scheduled. If s/he has done what you asked, thank him or her. Tell him/her that you will let the grassroots activists you’re in touch with know about his/her actions. If s/he has not done what you asked, ask what you can do to make this happen
•    Keep calling in the future. Provide him/her with information about key legislation, what’s happening, and what constituents are doing about your issues in the constituency. If you’ve established a relationship with this office, and they know they can count on you as a reliable source of information, they’ll be that much more likely to listen to you in the future.

So, what's been your experience?  What works best for you in meeting with legislators?  If you need help building bridges on Parliament Hill, drop me a line.

Mark Buzan is Principal of Action Strategies, a GR Consultancy for non-profits. If you have questions on how you feel your organization could benefit from legislative monitoring services or even undertaking a grassroots advocacy initiative. Subscribe now to his Lobbying tips newsletter at www.actionstrategies.ca

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

We've Moved!

Recently, the need to expand our location has occurred.  For those wishing to reach us, the phone number and email remains the same however, our new address is:

Action Strategies
264-B, rue Champlain
Gatineau, Québec J8X 3S1

Thanks to all those who have supported us in the past and continue to do so!


Mark Buzan, APR
Principal & Chief Magnifying Officer

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Facebook Causes Presents Great Opportunities for Growing Audiences and Raising Funds or Friends

Bookmark and Share If you're a non-profit organization and you are on Facebook and haven't heard of the Causes application, you need your team to get on board with this excellent tool IMMEDIATELY!  Basically, Facebook Causes is one of the many applications available to centre discussion around issues of concern to a multitude of organizations.

Any Facebook user with a little passion and initiative can create a cause, recruit their friends into that cause, keep everybody in the cause up-to-speed on issues and media related to the cause, and, most importantly, raise money directly through the cause for any U.S. nonprofit or Canadian registered charity. Causes processes donations automatically via credit card, tallies the results, and reports the donation activity via a public "scorecard" in the cause. 

What I love about this application is that it is a natural evolution of social networking. Leveraging real world social networks is an important part of activism, fundraising, and political campaigning. This is especially true of grassroots activism, local-chapter style nonprofit organizations, and the walks/runs used by many charities to raise money. Given all this, it's a bit surprising that online social networks haven't been more aggressively leveraged until now.

Apart from my business, I operate a small Cause page for a charity I support: Help the Chronically Unemployed find the Right Job.  With very little effort, I have been able to raise awareness of the work conducted by a small grassroots Ottawa charity - the Success Factory Employment Centre.

I recently received this email from Facebook Causes.  I think this new development bring about important and positive changes for the sector.  What are your thoughts?

Hey Mark,
Exciting improvements to your cause are almost here!
  1. You will be able to post bulletins to your members' News Feeds, the first page they see when they sign into Facebook.
  2. Your cause will be searchable in Facebook. Before, your cause was searchable in the Causes application but not the main Facebook search. Not anymore!
  3. Your cause will be featured in the Likes and Interests section of your members' Facebook profiles.
These improvements also mean you can no longer change the name of your cause. Starting September 1st, your cause's name will be permanent. If you want to change it, go to the "Admin Center" of your cause then "Basic Info." * Get started at http://apps.facebook.com/causes/causes/your?m=680e539d
TIP: Popular cause names are often action oriented - Stop Puppy Mills!, Support Arts in the Public Schools, or The Race to End Cancer. Think about what name would get a new person to join your cause if they saw: "Your friend just joined the cause ____."
We're looking forward to seeing the inspiring things you do with your causes after these improvements. If you need any tips or suggestions on doing more with your cause, go to http://exchange.causes.com/resources/activists?m=680e539d.
Good luck!
The Causes Team
When your members link your cause to their Facebook profile, they link to the cause's name. If you were to change the name of the cause, those connections would be lost. Members would have to re-join to be linked to your cause.
Are you a Nonprofit?
Click here for a more clear explanation of what these changes mean for your nonprofit organization: http://exchange.causes.com/2010/08/causes-open-graph-nonprofits/

What has been your experience with Facebook as an organization?  Are you utilizing Causes?  If your organization is looking to build it's Facebook or other social networking profiles, contact us.

Mark Buzan is Principal and Chief Magnifier in Action Strategies, a full service Strategic Communications, Public Relations and Public Affairs Consultancy for non-profits and associations.   

Make sure to contact Mark for advice on reaching audiences you may or may not have yet considered in your marketing communications and PR campaigns. Drop him a line if you are looking for help in developing a public relations campaign. You can view his website at www.actionstrategies.ca.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Our members and supporters aren't on social media" (and therefore it won't work)

Bookmark and Share Social media has a loyal following.  Many are convinced while others from time to time that I encounter inevitably tell me a number of things:

  • "My members are in the field and don't have access to computers or internet"
  • "My members (usually in the medical field) are too busy to be on social networking sites (they might only be on at night for personal reasons)."
  • "Social media is for another demographic than mine"
Ok, so let me admit this (even as a fan of social media): Social media may not be for you — yet.  The studies on social networking engagement are abound and point clearly to the fact that this phenomena is not going to go away anytime soon.  As with any new technology, there will always be the quick adapters and those for a number of reasons who will lag behind.

Yet, just because your inclining may lead you to think that social media is not a right fit for your audience, I want you to at least open your mind to the possibility that perhaps...just perhaps social networking might make for a good portion in your organization's marketing mix.  As any marketing campaign is only as good as the marketing plan and research behind it, do a survey.  As the lines between personal and professional lives are increasingly blurred, social media is becoming a greater forum than ever for developing niche communities.  My suggestion is to find out how and where your members and supporters prefer to get their information.

For associations whose memberships are made of tradespeople in the field or who are not regularly in front of a computer with internet access, I foresee the growing popularity of mobile and cell text message campaigns bridging the gap.  Stats show that 1/3 of human kind has mobile internet access and that people are twice as likely to use text messaging and respond to this form of communication.  With services such as mGive, organizations can now link their websites to mobile call to actions campaigns.  Many organizations are becoming very effective in mixing traditional campaign calls that lead over to web/ social media presences.  How many have seen or heard an ad referring people over to a website?

Social media does not have to mean only blasting information out through Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Social networking is also a great support mechanism and strategy for getting the word out with other communications mediums.  In doing so, associations bridge the gap between different demographics of their supporters.

It is noteworthy that social media isn’t dominated by the youngest, often most tech-savvy generations, but rather by what has to be referred to as middle-aged people (although at the younger end of that spectrum).  This is a critical element to consider for professional associations whom, for the moment, more likely need to recruit and retain in their ranks.

What do you think?  Is ruling out social media outright a reaction to the unknown or have non-profit executives critical of this new means of communications done their homework in market research to justify the rejection?
Mark A. Buzan, APR
Principal & Chief Magnifying Officer
Action Strategies
#3, 270 rue Champlain
Gatineau, Quebec J8X 3S1
819.770.2899 phone

LinkedIn Group for Public Relations: http://tinyurl.com/nonprofitideas
LinkedIn Group for Government Relations: http://tinyurl.com/nonprofitlobbying

Please take a look at my just released book: Online PR and Social Media for Associations and Not-for-Profits -http://www.onlineprsocialmedia.com/associations

Monday, October 18, 2010

The summer brought in a new Cabinet in Ottawa & Quebec City

Bookmark and ShareIt's been a while since this blog has been updated but what a summer and fall we have had that has lead Canada towards an interesting political environment.  Parliament (in Ottawa) returns today with amongst other developments, three new ministers:

John Baird is now replacing Jay Hill as House Leader
Chuck Strahl has moved from Indian Affairs replacing John Baird as Minister of Transport
John Duncan has moved in Minister for Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Jean-Pierre Blackburn has left Revenue for Veteran's Affairs

Here's my take on how these changes will effect the direction of government:

1. Jay Hill, now seeking to move out of politics, was known and respected as conciliator.  This is not to say that John Baird is not but I expect that with his reputation of taking no prisoners, the government may become bolder in pushing forth its agenda.  For associations and non-profits looking to push forth their agenda, it will be critical for them to look at means of how their issues fit into the overall objectives and political direction of the government. This will be all the more critical as the government will have to contend with reducing the deficit initiatives and political pressure to keep up stimulus spending.

2. I don't expect Chuck Strahl's movement to Transport and John Duncan's movement to Indian Affairs should affect any serious direction in policy changes.  that said, this is an important change for this department and retooling one's connections will be critical to advance policy in this department.  In the case of the latter department, I can state from my own experience on parliament hill that John Duncan will likely add an important voice and perspective on aboriginal issues from a British Columbia perspective.  As an opposition MP, John was very vocal on aboriginal fishing disputes.

3. Jean-Pierre Blackburn's move to Veteran's Affairs means that this department will have its first Quebec minister in a very long time.  He has already identified his desire to build more awareness for veteran's issues in Quebec as a personal priority.  Also, with Canada's mission to Afghanistan coming to an end soon, the issue of proper compensation for veterans means he will likely be a minister to watch.  The departure of his Chief of Staff (and friend of mine), Michel Lalonde, also leads to a change in the style of operating as well in his office.

Quebec City has also been a hot bed of political activity these last couple of months.  Premier Jean Charest has named the yet-to-be elected Jean-Marc Fournier (now elected from a bi-election this fall) as minister of justice during a cabinet shuffle.  Among the newly appointed ministers: Kathleen Weil takes over immigration, Lise Thériault is named minister of labour and Sam Hamad becomes transport minister.

Despite claims to the opposite, the shuffle was a quite deliberate attempt at deflecting attention away from current troubles the Premier is facing in claims the province's judiciary is named under partisan circumstances.  With different polls indicating various levels of support for the PLQ, I foresee the Quebec Liberals undertaking more initiatives in the field of democratic transparency as a priority as they will likely attempt to reclaim popular support.

So...what do you think?  Where do you see government policy going in the coming months both federally an in Quebec?  What impact (if any) will developments in Quebec have on federal policy or on policy in other provinces?

Mark Buzan is Principal of Action Strategies, a GR Consultancy for non-profits. If you have questions on how you feel your organization could benefit from legislative monitoring services or even undertaking a grassroots advocacy initiative. Subscribe now to his Lobbying tips newsletter at www.actionstrategies.ca

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

New Lobbying Regulations in Ottawa

Bookmark and ShareLobbying in Ottawa has changed this fall and non-profit/ association executives would be wise to pay heed.  Anyone who bends the ear of Members of Parliament and senators must now register such activities under expanded new regulations that have taken effect.  Under the new rules, individuals must register when they lobby any member of Parliament, senator or senior staff in the House of Commons and Senate offices of the leader of the opposition.

Previously, lobbyists only needed to register when they communicated with government ministers and ministers of state, as well as senior bureaucrats such as deputy ministers and assistant deputy ministers.  The new regulations were released for public consultation in early August and have now come into force.

Under the Lobbying Act, lobbying is defined as any communication with public office holders by an individual who is paid to communicate with office holders on behalf of a person or organization. The subject matter must fall in one of several areas: the development, including legislative amendments and the awarding of grants or contracts.

So, the question association professionals must ask themselves: Are we on top of the rules?  As the rules for registering can be complicated, are we better off keeping our government relations activities in-house or can contracting out even a portion of it benefit the organization?

Mark Buzan is Principal of Action Strategies, a GR Consultancy for non-profits. If you have questions on how you feel your organization could benefit from legislative monitoring services or even undertaking a grassroots advocacy initiative. Subscribe now to his Lobbying tips newsletter at www.actionstrategies.ca

Monday, August 23, 2010

Specialized Network for Non-Profit Advocacy and Public Relations

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Followers of this blog may be aware of Action Strategies' special social network for those interested in learning best practices in the sector.  As some may be aware, Ning (where this network is hosted) has changed the service agreement for hosting groups such as this.  As a result, the location of this network has now been changed to http://actionstrategies.spruz.com.  I wish to thank everyone for joining us here at this location and sincerely hope you will visit our new location and join up with new and even better features available.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Social Media takes "too much time" and that's why it's "not" worth it!

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Time and again, when you review the blogs and discussion forums, the question of ROI (return on investment) comes up when association executives think about integrating social media into their communications and public relations initiatives. For many association and not-for-profit organization executives and communications professionals, this medium is completely new territory.  Briefly, they're not completely sure what to make of it.

Here's the thing...social media adds one more important component to a successful communications portfolio of strategies a non-profit can call upon.    In fact, I often call it the "great equalizer" because to be effective in this medium, you don't necessarily need a huge budget as you would in a traditional advertizing campaign.  As with any effort, you get out of something that which you put into it.  Beth Kanter's blog put it correctly when she estimated the time commitments required and while at first the prospect of devoting staff time to this initiative may seem daunting, consider the fact that not-for-profit financial resources are not infinite either.

You do however need consistent passion for your cause.  Consider the following at least from the corporate sphere (from Forrester.com) I believe relays back to the not-for-profit sector:
Many marketers can draw a straight line between investments in social media marketing and financial results, but many more cannot.  This doesn’t mean social media marketing is ineffective; it just means that marketers have to recognize benefits beyond dollars and cents.  Facebook fans, retweets, site visits, video views, positive ratings and vibrant communities are not financial assets -- they aren’t reflected on the balance sheet and can’t be counted on an income statement -- but that doesn’t mean they are valueless.  Instead, these are leading indicators that the brand is doing something to create value that can lead to financial results in the future.
Is this not something critical to the reason for why the sector exists, namely making certain we are advancing our cause's recognition factor?  However, if you are still not convinced consider the following:  Those organizations who have a blog, average 55% more web traffic than those who don't.   As for the time commitments, believe me...with effective training and organization, there are plenty of tools available to streamlined your efforts.

I could go on but I love to hear more from you.  Leave your comments!
Mark A. Buzan, APR
Principal &; Chief Magnifying Officer
Action Strategies
#3, 270 rue Champlain
Gatineau, Quebec J8X 3S1
819.770.2899 phone

LinkedIn Group for Public Relations: http://tinyurl.com/nonprofitideas
LinkedIn Group for Government Relations: http://tinyurl.com/nonprofitlobbying

Please take a look at my just released book: Online PR and Social Media for Associations and Not-for-Profits -http://www.onlineprsocialmedia.com/associations

Monday, August 09, 2010

Are you registered as a lobbyist?

Bookmark and ShareFrom time to time, I am asked what Action Strategies does.  When I answer that 50% of our work involves government relations and lobbying on behalf of non-profit organizations and associations, one of the inevitable questions that arises is: "Are you registered as a lobbyist (in order to take on a lobbying mandate)?"

Let me make things clear.  Under the lobbying laws of Canada (and all provinces), one does not register themselves in order to become a professional.  Rather, registration occurs at the point at which an organization decides it wishes to engage a professional to represent its interests to government.
With that said, I can state that when the occasion has arisen, Action Strategies has registered with the appropriate authorities when our clients have come to us with a government relations mandate and upon receiving a mandate, it is one of the first things undertaken.
Mark Buzan is Principal of Action Strategies, a GR Consultancy for non-profits. If you have questions on how you feel your organization could benefit from legislative monitoring services or even undertaking a grassroots advocacy initiative. Subscribe now to his Lobbying tips newsletter at www.actionstrategies.ca

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Where's the Value of Communications Consultants?

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Look, I'll come forward and admit it...at face value, public relations can be a subjective affair.  At times, getting to the point of what it clearly delivers can be a challenge.  So let me make it very clear.  If I were to pick one fundamental value proposition good communication strategy delivers, it is reputation.

The challenge however for organizations is getting to understand that reputation is something that is priceless. In fact it touches every aspect of a good functioning cause. Public Affairs consultants are reputation brokers. We build and protect reputations and by doing that we impact on good functioning of marketing by making certain that evert dollar spent is done so strategically. We keep organizations in tune with their stakeholders, clients, and even internally with staff so as to ensure organizations hold onto valuable employees.

This is what I called Omnifluence in a previous post: the measure of our effectiveness in influencing the entire stakeholder universe. Communications/ Public Relations Consultants are brokers of influence. Those organizations that can capitalize on this knowledge base are the ones that will see mutiple benefits in the end.

Do you have the internal staff and expertise to commit the internal resources to your public relations, marketing, advertising efforts? 

If you have the internal staff, and they understand Guerrilla PR principles, then there may be no reason to hire an outside agency. Paradoxically, the busier you get, the easier it is to parlay, or "set aside" consistent, important PR activities. Don't get caught in that trap! 

You may need PR, and you may even have the people to conduct your public relations, marketing, advertising campaigns but that's not enough. To be truly effective, your PR campaigns must be conducted with PASSIONATE CONSISTENCY.  It is for this reason that why I believe it makes good business sense to hire a public relations firm to market your product or service.

Many people think of consultants as expensive. However, a good consultant can save money. First, because hiring someone in-house with that much expertise could cost much more (think fixed expense vs. variable expense). Second, because they have highly specialized knowledge difficult to find in an employee, consultants can identify areas of vulnerability—such as illegal claims made on your product packaging or gaps in your quality control program—which, if not addressed, could cause a financial nightmare down the road.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Good Marketing = Good Lobbying

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One of the biggest issues non-profit executives identified to me in a recent survey of the challenges faced in government relations is identifying the right contacts in government and then building the right case that fits into the government's agenda.

Many will say that the secret to Lobbying success relies on one’s contacts. In my mind however, lobbying is much like a very focused marketing campaign. Good lobbyists have an understanding of the process and the people in legislative role but most importantly, they are the ones who understand the basics of how to make a convincing case...much like a marketer! Let me explain.

Lobbying falls into five stages. These are:
  1. Identify your target: who are you going to lobby
  2. Research them thoroughly
  3. Set Objectives: what results do you want from your action
  4. Action: get on and do it!
  5. Feedback: share the results with others in the campaign
The first two principles represent the essential elements of market research, aspects at which I have placed a good amount of my career in as a consultant and employee in the non-profit sector. Before you write (or speak) a single word to your target audience in either marketing or in government relations, do some background research. For starters, it is worth understanding a little bit about what MP's actually do and what in their background might build some affinity to your cause. This is essentially what market research is about. Without knowing your market, no amount of contacts or emotion in your appeal will make a difference.
The second two points essentially lay in place the planning section of your campaign. This may seem a fairly obscure point. Surely EVERYONE knows what lobbying is for? Not so. Once you know who you are going to talk to and where they are coming from, it is absolutely essential that you decide what it is you want to achieve as a result of your dialogue with them. Good lobbying is about creating a relationship with your target, which you will then use, in future, to further the campaign objectives. In the final analysis, lobbying is communicating. As a profession, it is an odd marriage of teaching and sales. A good lobbyist has to be an excellent communicator. And in today’s world, that means both the written and the spoken word. It is no longer enough to be a good schmoozer. Have you integrated your marketing, communications and public affairs into a common plan? How will they work together? Without a plan, how will you expect to get to where you need to be? Don’t expect legislators to figure that out for you! Good lobbying practice requires a good marketing plan on how your objectives fit into the broader scheme and WHAT marketing initiatives in particular you intend to take to make things happen.
Finally, as with any marketing campaign, you need to measure, measure and evaluate. Are you hitting the mark? How is your outreach effort to legislators being perceived? One of the most important roles for lobbying is to gather information. That information needs to go back into the campaign. Not for any especially sinister purpose. But so that others can use it.
It helps to know what sort of majorities are shaping up for certain government propositions. This allows us to determine where to attack (and where not to). It also allows us to target any future communications more directly.

What are your thoughts?

Mark A. Buzan, APR
Principal & Chief Magnifying Officer
Action Strategies
#3, 270 rue Champlain
Gatineau, Quebec  J8X 3S1
819.770.2899 phone
http://www.actionstrategies.ca (Action Strategies website)
LinkedIn Group for Public Relations: http://tinyurl.com/nonprofitideas
LinkedIn Group for Government Relations: http://tinyurl.com/nonprofitlobbying
Please take a look at my just released book:  Online PR and Social Media for Associations and Not-for-Profits - http://www.onlineprsocialmedia.com/associations

Mark Buzan is Principal of Action Strategies, a GR Consultancy for non-profits. If you have questions on how you feel your organization could benefit from legislative monitoring services or even undertaking a grassroots advocacy initiative. Subscribe now to his Lobbying tips newsletter at www.actionstrategies.ca