Reem is an Associate Consultant at Grassroots Public Affairs and is based in Ottawa. Reem can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Recently, I had the opportunity to lead the management of a significant lobby day for a client on Parliament Hill. As we navigate back to in-person connectivity from the virtual world, I want to share some important lessons that I feel will help make your next lobby day successful:
Lesson 1: Preparation is Key
In a perfect world, everything goes according to plan. However, those familiar with running lobby days on The Hill know how quickly things can change. Being organized with a concise plan and agenda is fundamental for success. When managing a busy day full of meetings, it is essential to prepare for the unexpected and create room for flexibility in the day’s schedule if necessary.
Running through the agenda multiple times in advance is a helpful way to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Prepare all material, meeting documents, and schedules the day before to avoid unexpected factors on the day of such as a broken printer or internet accessibility issues on-site. Your main focus during the lobby day should be ensuring everything runs as smoothly as possible, so preparing everything in advance will ensure a better outcome.
Lesson 2: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Another key to a successful lobby day is constant communication. Communication with the client, communication with the stakeholders you’re scheduled to meet with, and communication with your team. Make sure all parties are aware of schedules, updates, and any new changes that arise. Before the lobby day, it is important to reach out to the office of officials you plan to meet with – this should include a phone call if your correspondence was previously over email; it is beneficial to establish a personal connection before the meeting. Establishing clear communication is key for handling any situation quickly and efficiently.
The client’s focus should be on delivering their advocacy message, and it is the job of the consultant to make sure all other factors are taken care of. Establishing a “headquarters” and being present on-site with your client is essential to help them navigate the excitement and rush of a lobby day.
Lesson 3: Team Retro and Meeting Follow Up
A retro (meaning: retrospective) is a meeting held at the end of a project, event, or in this case, a lobby day, which is aimed at reflecting upon the successes, improvements, and outcomes of the day. Debriefing the experience afterwards is a fundamental way to measure growth, and to continue to build on what was achieved throughout the process. A retro with the client is beneficial to all parties and will help maintain a positive relationship after the project is complete. The work doesn’t end after the lobby day wraps up, proper follow up is crucial!
Managing a successful lobby day takes a lot of preparation and organization. However, I have learned that if you apply these lessons, you can ensure that your client’s message is heard, and their advocacy objectives are met.