Lobbying is all about influencing political decisions through contact with decision-makers and building public opinion. The term ‘public affairs’ is sometimes used instead.

Lobbying is an important part of democracy. A wise lobbyist takes responsibility, suggests concrete solutions and seeks to collaborate with political decision-makers. We can help you to act as a solutions supplier rather than a demand-making machine.

Westander applies a self-assumed requirement for openness to counteract lobbying with hidden clients. This means, for example, that we always report our ongoing lobbying assignments on our website.

20 tips on influencing political decisions

We want to spread knowledge about how to lobby. You do not need a large budget and professional lobbyists to influence political decisions. Good arguments and strong commitment go a long way.

Here are Westander’s 20 tips on influencing political decisions.

1. Make your purpose clear

Describe why it is important for you to have an influence on a particular issue. By making your purpose clear, you create internal commitment while also making the public interest in the issue obvious.

2. Set concrete targets

Set a clear and concrete target for the political decision that you want made. There should be no doubt about when this target has been met and celebrations are in order.

3. Investigate the decision-making process

Find out about the decision-making processes for your issue. When will any inquiries be complete? When is the referral period? When will the government and parliament make a decision?

4. Map political positions

Go through motions, statements in the media and the parties’ programmes. Also find out about the positions taken by youth associations, women’s associations, individual members of parliament, authorities and interest groups on the issue. Request any statements of opinion.

5. Identify target groups

Identify the people who make decisions on your issue. Also list their advisors and partners. Identify the opinion-formers who can influence the decision-makers’ perceptions.

6. Formulate your message

Formulate a clear message that answers the following three questions: What is the social problem? What is the solution? What is the concrete proposal? Formulate your answers in a concrete and specific manner.

7. Appoint a spokesperson

Appoint the person within the company or the organisation who is most suitable for putting forward your message as a spokesperson. You should primarily steer the campaign yourself and not delegate contact with politicians and the media to a PR agency.

8. Draw up a campaign plan

Summarise your external analysis and your strategy in a campaign plan. This plan should include a detailed, chronological list of the lobbying activities to be carried out.

9. Write a report

Write a report about the factual issue. This should highlight facts and statistics, as well as all the arguments in favour of your proposal. The report is a basis for opinion articles and contact with politicians.

10. Be open

Always say who you are representing and the aim of the campaign. Failing to be honest is undemocratic, and can even backfire against the campaign. However, you should not normally tell others about your contact with for example individual members of parliament.

11. Act constructively

Always propose constructive solutions when meeting politicians. Do not dwell too long on the description of the problem, and do not make the situation uncomfortable by making tough demands.

12. Seek common ground

Seek shared interests and make suggestions that both you and the politicians can benefit from. Do not try to convert a politician. Instead, make it clear how your proposal can help the party to achieve its goals.

13. Adapt your argument

Different parties can support the same demands based on completely different positions. Your argument should therefore be adapted to the other party’s values.

14. Highlight the public interest

Always highlight arguments that demonstrate the public interest in the issue. The government and parliament do not make decisions based on the interests of individual companies and organisations.

15. Work together with interest groups

Companies with commercial motives should try to form alliances with organisations that support their demands. This makes their message more credible.

16. Build public opinion via the media

Write news-focused opinion articles and letters to the editor in which your message comes across clearly. Compile a list of journalists who monitor the subject area and inform them when there are new developments.

17. Use social media

Use social media as an integrated part of your opinion-forming work, both to persuade others to spread your message and for external monitoring purposes. Follow the politicians and opinion-formers whom you want to reach, and participate in the conversations they take part in.

18. Take part in Almedalen Week

Go to Almedalen Week in Visby in July and network with decision-makers and opinion-formers. A clear message and thorough preparations will be needed in order to succeed.

19. Send surveys to politicians

Send an electronic survey to political decision-makers. The results of the survey can be used in follow-up contact with politicians and as material for news stories.

20. Carry out opinion surveys

Ask the public a question via an opinion survey company. The results can be used as a news hook for the media and to demonstrate the public interest in the issue when contacting decision-makers.

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