What is Lobbying?
Lobbying is the act of influencing legislators or other public officials to support or oppose a specific
cause. Sounds simple? It is, but we recommend you take the following steps.
Steps to Lobby Effectively
1. Identify an issue you feel passionate about.
2. Set your goals. Decide in advance of your meeting what you want to accomplish. There are
various purposes for meeting with an elected or public official:
To educate your elected or public official about your issue.
To influence your legislator to vote for or against a bill.
To encourage your elected or public official to persuade another legislator to vote for or
against a bill.
As a health care professional, you can also introduce yourself to your elected or public
officials for the purpose of serving as a medical resource. This way you are establishing
a relationship with this person, which can be mutually beneficial in the future.
3. Identify appropriate targets for lobbying. Research your elected officials and consider the
When will your elected official have the opportunity to address this issue?
For instance, are you discussing a current bill on the floor, or is this an issue you
predict will be introduced in the future?
What motivates your elected or public official and influences his or her position on your
For example, consider your elected or public official’s connections to key
individuals or groups, such as supervisors, constituency groups, spouses, non-
profit or other organizations, companies, etc.
What is your elected official’s voting history, especially on related issues?
4. Identify the Ask for each target.
The Ask is the specific action that you are requesting your elected or public official to
The Ask should vary depending on the elected or public official’s stance on your issue.
5. Schedule your visit.
While it is ideal to meet with your elected official in person, phone conferences are
If your elected official is not available for a meeting, try to set one up with the elected
official’s aide or a key advisor on your issue.
6. Prepare for your visit.
Know your issue inside and out.
Familiarize yourself with the background on your
elected official, both political and personal.
Develop supporting documents. These documents
should not be longer than one page.
Prepare a lobby worksheet to keep yourself
organized. Include the legislator’s name,
background information on the legislator, the
topic you will discuss, background information
on the topic, the Ask, and talking points to guide
7. At your visit, consider these tips for lobbying effectively:
Think of lobbying as teaching your elected official about an issue. As a health
professional, you are the expert. Remember, elected officials don’t know everything.
On the other hand, don’t assume they know nothing.
Incorporate facts. Fact check before your visit to make sure they are accurate.
Incorporate stories. Appeal to the emotional side with anecdotes about a personal
experience or a patient’s experience.
If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t make one up. Simply offer to get the
correct information to the elected official at a later time.
There is power in a small group. Partner with coalition members to lobby together, but
don’t overwhelm your elected official with too many people. Keep your group to less
than 5 individuals.
As a health professional, you are powerful. As a constituent, you are even more
powerful. Keep in mind, elected officials want your support.
Always remember, elected officials are people too!
8. At the end of the visit, be sure to leave two items behind:
Your card – give your elected official your contact information for the future.
A “freebie” item for the elected official to keep as a reminder of your visit – e.g., a pen
supporting your coalition.
9. Write a lobby visit report. This will help you keep track of what happened during the meeting.
10. Always send a thank you note!
Know Your Politics
You don’t need to be an expert, but you do need to be informed. Have a good understanding of the
federal and state governments and the legislative process. Also, familiarize yourself with the
background on your elected official, both political and personal. It is always important to know their
voting record and stance on your issue. Finally, know your issue in depth.
Learn about Pennsylvania State Government.
Read about Pennsylvania Government in this Guide.
Know recent Session Information.
Find your Pennsylvania State Legislators.
Note: You will nee d to know your zip +4 code. Search your zip code here.
Learn about the United States Government.
Review the basics of the United States Government.
Find your U.S. Representative.
Know what’s current on the floor of the United States House of Representatives.
Find your U.S. Senators.
Know what’s current on the floor of the United States Senate.
Clark, Steve. “Writing an Effective Letter to the Editor.” Carolina Communique. Society for Technical
Communication, Carolina Chapter. 2007. Web. October, 2010.
Jarmul, David. “Op-Ed Articles: How to Write and Place Them.” Office of News & Communications. Duke
University. May, 2009. Web. October, 2010.
“Lobbying 101: An Introduction.” The Bonner Network. n.d. Web. October, 2010.
Pennsylvania General Assembly: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/index.cfm
United States House of Representatives: http://www.house.gov/Welcome.shtml
United States Senate: http://www.senate.gov/index.htm