What is Direct Lobbying?

utah legislative process

Direct Lobbying vs Grassroots Lobbying

Sometimes you will hear people using different terminology for lobbying. Terms like grassroots lobbying or direct lobbying. What is the difference between these two? 

So what is direct lobbying really? The best way to define what direct lobbying is is to define what it is not. The opposite of direct lobbying is grassroots lobbying. Grassroots lobbying is when the lobbying comes from the bottom, the public, hence the focus on “roots.”  Grassroots lobbying starts with a few people who create a message that gains momentum,  it results in petitions and large-scale awareness of issues. You can learn more about grassroots lobbying in the blog.

direct lobbying versus grassroots lobbying
Photo by Katie Moum on Unsplash

Direct Lobbying

Direct lobbying is when you are focused on contact with the actual legislators or government officials. Instead of working on raising public awareness and concern about an issue, you are actually contacting legislators in person, by email, or by calling. The biggest thing about direct lobbying is that you are actively in communication with the lawmakers. 

Direct lobbying is traditional lobbying and what people generally imagine when you say lobbying

Types of Contact for Direct Lobbying

Direct lobbying is actually coming into contact with lobbyists.

  • In-person meetings with legislators and their staff
  • Phone calls with legislators and their staff
  • Email conversations with legislators and their staff

You are presenting your concerns and ideas and asking for feedback from legislators. 

Involved Throughout The Process:

Direct lobbying is more than just a simple letter to a lobbyist or a one-time phone call. Direct lobbying is meeting with a lobbyist early on to express concerns. Then as legislation is being created, there are meetings with the legislators. It is being involved throughout the process of crafting a bill. 

Importance of Hiring an Experienced Lobbyist

For direct lobbying, it is wise to employ an actual lobbyist to help you present your concerns. Lobbying is a long-term process and you need someone that can help you every step of the way so that you can achieve your goals.

Benefits of Hiring a Lobbyist of Direct Lobbying

Knowing the Timing for Lobbying

Lobbyists are familiar with the legislative process and will understand when to reach out. You don’t want to get into contact with a legislator in the middle of the session. By the middle of the session, it is almost too late since people will already be proposing bills.

It is better to reach out earlier to share your concerns with legislators so they can begin researching to see if it would be something they may want to propose. When creating a bill, they will also need to find supporters to help them with drafting the bill. Then they will need to see what the interest is from other members of the legislature. If this groundwork is done prior to the legislative session, it makes it much more likely that the bill will be filed.

Familiarity with Legislators

You also want to find someone who is familiar with who the members of the legislature are. Lobbyists are familiar with the legislature and different people’s personalities and interests. If you want to look at something in education, you will want to find the people who have an interest or experience in education. Lobbyists will also know who the key legislators are who frequently introduce bills. They will have a good idea of who to contact about your concerns.

Strategic Insights

You also need to find a lobbyist who has a strategic mindset. When you are working to create change in government, you can’t just expect to meet with one person and suddenly have a bill drafted with your desired changes. 

You need to know the specific steps you need to take. Before presenting the idea for a bill, you may need to meet with key stakeholders to gauge their support, possibly even getting letters of support. You want to think of all the possible objections to the proposed changes. You need to know who to talk to and when and what to say. That is why it is so important to find a lobbyist who approaches problems and issues with a strategic mindset.

Finding a Lobbyist for Direct Lobbying

So if you’ve determined that direct lobbying is the right solution for your organization, you will want to find a skilled, experienced lobbyist who is familiar with the legislative landscape of your area. 

The Lockhart Group: Direct Lobbying Experts

The Lockhart Group has extensive experience lobbying in the state of Utah. Please feel free to contact us to share your concerns or issues that you need help resolving. We will be happy to consult with you and help you find a strategic plan to lobby for your cause.