McGeorge Adjunct Professor Chris Micheli

Grassroots lobbying is an important component of any successful lobbying campaign because it’s complementary to direct lobbying of elected officials and their staff, in an effort to influence their decisions.

Grassroots lobbying involves members of the general public, as opposed to those who are directly impacted by a particular bill or issue. In essence, those involved in grassroots lobbying are those who attempt to get the general public to contact their elected officials, so that members of the public are lobbying the decision makers directly. Those involved in grassroots lobbying intend to influence decision makers by cajoling the general public to get involved in the legislative or regulatory processes. This type of lobbying requires educating large groups of individuals, and then mobilizing them in a so-called call to action.

Educating the general public can take multiple forms, including direct mailing, social media, paid or free media, press conferences, press releases, and other forms of indirect and direct communications. Outreach efforts are key to successful grassroots lobbying campaigns, and the media often play a critical role in that outreach effort, but it first begins with educational efforts so that the general public understands the issue or the bill or the regulation.

Now, mobilizing the general public is the effort to get the members of the public to act in the desired manner. Whether this results in making phone calls, or writing letters to elected officials, perhaps boycotting a business or demonstrating at the Capitol. There are multiple forms that grassroots lobbying can take. It depends largely on the audience, and what is intended to be accomplished that usually determines the outreach efforts to be conducted.

In addition to the news media, the use of social media has become more prevalent in grassroots lobbying efforts. The potential reach of the Internet and websites is much larger than the traditional forms of media. This is an easy communication tool that enables organizing and interacting with those on social media, and the ability to grow your potential group of supporters is greatly assisted by those who have a social media presence. It can also be a much less costly form of organizing your grassroots campaign.

You can find a full transcript of today’s podcast here.