Top 10 Tips for Influence – “People who make things happen”
Sarah Learmonth, CRASAC
Be clear about who you are and what you contribute. At each meeting decide what you want to achieve and why your argument is compelling, use relevant national, local and your own figures to illustrate your points and summarise these in a presentation you can re-use and keep updated.
Understand who makes the decisions and how to influence them – who are the key people responsible for decision making , and who else influences those people and that process?
Find your ‘champions’. Relationship building is key – meet with people one to one to understand their perspective and which angle they are coming from, and show them what your organisation does, so that you establish common ground with your issues.
Always act with integrity and credibility, and deliver on your promises.
Prove your usefulness – spend time outside of your office, get involved with initiatives and organisations relevant to your cause locally, spend time understanding how issues, initiatives and people interconnect.
Demonstrate that you can think strategically, i.e. what is best for the city as a whole, not just your organisation’s interests or agenda (and how your organisation’s interests and agenda contributes).
Choose your moments to campaign – be engaged with your ‘champions’ before a key decision is going to be made and understand when too much campaigning can begin to become counter-productive.
Know your key statistics, present your issue positively, and use real stories of people’s actual experience of issues and services.
Understand the channels of communication – private meetings and conversations generally work better than speeches in large meetings. Remember other channels such as local newspapers and radio, and social media such as Twitter – councillors tweet too.
Engage professionally with key people in ways that might sway their interest in your organisation, and involve them in events to build their awareness and interest in what your organisation does. They could be your future champions.
Top 5 Most Effective Lobbying Meetings
Your councillors meet regularly in ‘Group’ meetings and have a couple of 10 minute presentations from local groups. Find out who runs the Labour, Conservative, LibDem etc groups and ask them to put you on the agenda.
Your local councillors – find out who they are and get them round the centre. Make sure you know your own key statistics for the area you cover and if possible for their ward area e.g. how many of your clients come from their constituency.
For every elected councillor there is a paid officer of the council, if you are lobbying a Cabinet Member of the council then find out who is their officer and contact them, even if just out of courtesy.
Officers are the civil servants of the council and can get irritated when work they’ve done is de-railed by an elected member that you have lobbied without their knowledge so keep them informed.
Your local MPs – get them to come round to the centre and as for local councillors, make sure you know your key statistics and if possible the statistics for their constituency. MPs have no access to funds but do have huge amounts of influence locally, they can also raise issues at Parliament through Parliamentary Questions, either written or verbal.
Your local newspaper and radio stations can be key allies. Radio is a great method of getting our message across and avoiding some of the more obvious anonymity issues of TV and print. Meet with the paper and the radio, educate them and keep engaged.
This might mean writing to the paper if you see articles on rape, abuse or gender issues or writing a press release regularly to keep them interested in what you’re doing. Build a media list and use it.