Influencing others, especially those in positions of power and with the strong support of allies, could affect fundamental societal changes. Generally, lobbying and advocacy are two ways to set forth interests or ideas to effect such change. However, it is essential to note that lobbying and advocacy are not necessarily exclusive, even though they might share the same goal and effective practices.
What is Advocacy?
Advocacy is the act of setting forth a cause, idea, or policy, and it is not limited to having a change in legislation. Instead, it aims to affect the general public.
Simply put, advocacy is the broad act of influencing decisions or outlook but is not limited to a specific group. Instead, advocacy can focus on political, social, or economic ideas and groups.
What is Lobbying?
Lobbying is defined by U.S. federal tax law as an attempt to influence specific legislation. Generally, lobbying is focused on communicating with policymakers to influence a particular position in legislation.
Generally, lobbying is conducted in one of two ways:
- Contacting policymakers, along with the help of the public and allies
- Advocating and influencing the creation or rejection of specific legislation
In essence, lobbying is a sect within advocacy that is focused on having an impact on legislation.
Best Practices for Advocacy and Lobbying
Advocacy and lobbying share the exact value of influencing change, even if they are not exactly on their specific audience. Nonetheless, both advocacy and lobbying can implement the following best practices to succeed in their goals:
Having Clear Objectives Supported by Research
The foundation of advocacy and lobbying is to push forth a specific idea or agenda. A clear objective must be developed and supported by sound research to gain the audience’s support and influence. By having a well-researched purpose, an advocate or lobbyist can effectively share the importance of an idea with the listener and answer any concerns an audience may have.
Efficient Face-to-Face or Virtual Events
Face-to-face meetings or virtual events are significant opportunities to connect with the intended audience. During these events, it is best to have an advocate with a presentable demeanor in addressing the audience, have talking points to deliver a solid message, and present materials to support the plan.
Writing Compelling Emails and Letters
Another way to effectively communicate an idea and influence an audience is through emails and letters. Although letters may not be as common as emails nowadays, it is an excellent tool to reach out and communicate with politicians, corporations, agencies, and other organizations. Writing compelling emails and letters to the intended recipient to get them to consider the agenda is a powerful opportunity to influence the audience. An advocate or lobbyist can lay their ideas through these emails and use specific words and tones to influence the reader.
Utilize Social Media
Social media is a robust tool in today’s society, as it connects, socializes, shares ideas, and rallies society. An effective advocate or lobbyist could use this tool to communicate with the public through direct virtual conversations, sharing materials or general thoughts, or a combination of both.