Today I will be discussing the stages of the lobbying process. These four stages were put together by my colleague, Ray LeBov. A lobbyist needs to be aware of the work to be done in each of the four stages as part of the strategic and tactical work that they do for their clients.
The four stages are diagnosis, analysis, strategy, and tactics.
Not only should a lobbyist understand the issue that they will be lobbying early in the process, but they should also understand where their particular issue fits in the overall picture. In this stage, an aspect of an effective lobbyist’s approach to any effort is to diagnose all the factors and forces at play. At this point, an effective lobbyist should be asking themselves these, and similar, questions:
- Who has a stake in the outcome of the bill?
- Why would they care about this particular issue?
- What can the lobbyist present to them that they’ll respond to, and why will they respond?
- How does the issue interplay with other issues being faced by legislators or regulators?
Analysis starts by building on the diagnosis and analyzing the situation the lobbyist’s issue or bill will be going in to. For example, if a lobbyist sponsoring a bill, they have to find a legislator to be the author of the bill. To determine whom they should ask to carry the bill, an experienced lobbyist will want to consider a wide range of factors, such as:
- A potential author’s subject matter expertise,
- His or her relationship with the four legislative caucuses and the Governor,
- His or her committee and/or leadership roles,
- Which staff member or members are likely to be assigned to your bill, and
- The potential to use working on this bill to build a beneficial future relationship with that elected official
In-depth knowledge of California’s legislative process, procedures, and rules is necessary for being a lobbyist, but knowledge alone is not sufficient for success. When creating the game plan for success, an effective lobbyist will look at the totality of the forces potentially at play in their issue or bill and how those forces may interrelate. Even with the best game plan in place, including planning for foreseeable contingencies, an experienced lobbyist is still likely to encounter twists and turns and needs to have the flexibility and nimbleness to reassess and redraw the game plan as often as warranted.
An old Chinese general once said, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” The last stage is a lobbyist’s ability to implement their game plan. This can involve a wide range of skills to perform the day-to-day activities that are necessary and appropriate for attaining success.
You can find a full transcript of today’s podcast here.