Engaging with Decision-Makers

Good campaigning will require engaging with people with real or imagined power, such as politicians (local; national), policy makers (political party officials and activists; Caucus research staff; local body and Government department key officials), media (to cover issues, to influence others), and other organisations (public, or voluntary). Here are some tips for getting it right.

Key lessons

Know your base:
Argument within your movement about the solution will give MPs a reason to write you off and could cause the MP to walk away.

Be ready:

  • Have evidence to back up your case.
  • Know your methods - everything you think of will have been done before in some way.
  • Be ready for an opportunity.

Above & sideways:

  • Be able to see your issue in context of broader society.
  • Can you think of unusual arguments and lines - unusual alliances.

What compromises can you make?

What left field ideas do you have?

What x factor can you get that you don’t currently have?

How are other people going to belittle your campaign?

Know your decision-maker

  • Put yourself in the MPs shoes - what are their interests and goals?
  • Don’t ignore the constraints on an MP - eg having to vote in line with party manifesto on an issue.
  • Sometimes have to give people the space to organise themselves (eg. A party starting their own organisation for gay rights)

Can you offer an MP something they can be remembered for?

Meeting your MP

Get creative about getting your idea across to them:

  • Ask if you can give them a presentation.
  • Give them An Experience - take them somewhere.
  • Take them to talk to a visiting expert.
  • Get them to talk to someone with direct experience of the issue.
  • Get your supporters along to their local MP offices to tell their personal stories.

Other Tips

  • Get a political party to take on an issue in their manifesto.
  • Find a group within the political party to be champions of the issue.
  • Be disciplined with the message you put across to MPs - keep it consistent, simple and firm.
  • Keep talking about your solution - normalise the idea.
  • Use friendly MPs to do dry run meetings with.

Click here to download a comprehensive lobbying kit

These tips are courtesy of Tim Barnett via the Australian Progress New Zealand Fellowship Program.

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