As discussed in earlier posts I’m “at the receiving end” of several Public Affairs campaigns and efforts, and I am often mystified by them. After all it isn’t that complicated and a lot can be achieved by using simple common sense. With 2013 drawing closer here are 5 points for better Public Affairs:
- Put yourself in the receivers shoes
Sounds very simple but it doesn’t seem to be done. But if you ask yourself how you’d like to be contacted and lobbied if you were the lobyee many small mistakes would be avoided.
- Keep in touch with us even if there isn’t an issue
Odd as it sounds, ”just keeping in touch” isn’t such a bad idea. So, if you have other meetings in the Parliament just drop by and say hello. Even if we keep your name and issues on file, there is always something you can speak about and we will remember you easier next time there is an issue. Same thing if you have some information or background you feel would be beneficial for us in our work.
- Do what you say you’ll do
I have noticed an increasing trend of emails and letters in which we are contacted by eager lobbyists saying they will contact us to book a meeting. One group is so eager they have faxed us, sent a letter and mailed – all three with the same message. But they still haven’t booked a meeting. In what book have you read that this is the way forward? Let me tell you, it isn’t. If you want to book a meeting, book a meeting. That simple. And if you want to know about how to navigate in Brussels, go no further than to “Activist Guide to the Brussels Maze”. Activist or not it will provide you with all the information you need. And the advice are valid outside the Brussels bubble. It’s quick, simple and cheerful.
- Plan ahead and check the Parliament calendar
You’d be surprised how many times we get contacted by people who want to book a meeting in Brussels on dates when the Parliament either is in session in Strasbourg or just plain closed. Even more interesting is that they then get annoyed with us when we come back and propose a time when we are present. In particular if you are travelling some distance to meet with the MEPs one would think a simple look in the calendar would be prudent before buying your tickets. To simplify your task for next year – here is a link to the Parliament calendar and the various committees you can find here Committees’ calendar.
- Take some time and develop a good subject line
I don’t want to brag but on a normal day we receive hundreds of emails. If you want your email to be read, which is very likely the case, I propose you start with developing a good subject line. In particular if this is the first time you contact an MEPs office. Or even, maybe, call ahead. But sending emails with subjects like READ NOW, To A Commissioner or Protest will almost certainly mean your mail ends up being thrown away without being read. And that isn’t really how you hope to influence European politics, is it?