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1. You are dealing with political decision makers who have a wide range of ambitions, motivations, and goals. The key to effective lobbying is aligning your interests and goals to the decision makers.

2. Most government officials want to succeed in their jobs, keep their jobs, or get even better jobs. Any way you can connect with these decision makers and help fulfill everyone's goals will help you to be a winner.

3. The reality of politics is compromise. Almost never does anyone get everything they want in a lobbying exchange. Remember that lobbying success means accomplishing your goals a little bit at a time. Be prepared to compromise and don't have a short-term time horizon. Be aware of the changes that can impact your interests, and be flexible.

4. Know the decision-making process. In any legislature, there are lots of dark spots where legislation can be killed, severely altered, and even advanced to law status. The same is true in the governmental bureaucracy. Many different actors can play a critical role that profoundly affects your interests. Think of the decision-making process like an assembly line with different actions along the line. If one of these stations breaks down, the chances of the final product reaching the end of the line are small.

5. A good lobbying process requires lots of time and effect and planning long before the line starts humming. Start as early as you can on your lobbying campaign in terms of the basic preparations.

6. Lobbying can be hard work. Be prepared. Sometimes it is tedious and even boring. Sometimes you have wait for long as the decision makers deal with one issue after another and meet others before they find time to meet with you and discuss your issue.

7. Be courteous and positive—no matter how you may feel at a given moment. Remember, you are asking for someone to do something for you and your organization. No one wants to interact with a grumpy or bad-tempered individual. It is OK to be committed and maybe even a bit intense in terms of your commitment to your cause, but rudeness or excessive aggressiveness is often a negative in the lobbying process. Remember, mutual respect often works very nicely.


1. Allan J. Cigler and Burdette A. Loomis, Interest Group Politics. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press, 2007, 214-32.

2. Bertram J. Levine, The Art of Lobbying: Building Trust and Selling Policy. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press, 2009.

3. Ronald J. Hrebenar, Interest Group Politics in America. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1997, chapter 4.

4. Levine, op. cit. p. 34.

5. Clive. S. Thomas. Dealing Effectively with Alaska State Government: Lobbying the Legislature, the Governor's Office and State Agencies. University of Alaska: Corporate Programs.

6. AARP, "You Can't Fight City Hall," quoted in Hrebenar, Interest Group Politics in America, op. cit. pp. 112-13.

7. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 08-205 (2010). Other recent federal decisions that have significantly impacted the rights of corporations in federal campaigns; McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, 540 U.S. 93 (2003), which earlier upheld most of the BICRA, and Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc., 551 U.S. 449 (2007), which began the process of freeing corporate money to buy ads in federal election campaigns.

8 . The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution's least-known clause is the one that protects the citizen's right to lobby—the "right to petition government for redress of grievances." Of all the clauses in the First Amendment, this one has been least addressed by the Supreme Court and has the most absolute levels of protection.


deKieffer, Donald E. 1997. The Citizen's Guide to Lobbying Congress. Chicago: Chicago River Press.

Gray, Virginia and Russell L. Hanson. 2008. Politics in the American States: A Comparative Analysis. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press.

Guyer, Robert L. 2003. Guide to State Legislative Lobbying. Gainesville, FL: Engineering THE LAW.

Hrebenar, Ronald J. 1997. Interest Group Politics in America. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe.

Hrebenar, Ronald J. and Bryson B. Morgan. 2009. Lobbying in America. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. The Website of Center for Responsive Politics. This site has a lot of information on Washington, D.C., lobbying, data on major interest groups, and lobbyists.

Rosenthal, Alan. 1993. The Third House: Lobbyists and Lobbying in the States. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press.

Thomas, Clive S. 2011. Dealing Effectively with Alaska State Government: Lobbying the Legislature, the Governor's Office and State Agencies. University of Alaska: Corporate Programs.

Wittenberg, Ernest and Elisabeth Wittenberg. 1994. How to Win in Washington: Very Practical Advice about Lobbying the Grassroots and the Media. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

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