There are a few books your lobbyist will have read. If they have not, my advice, turn around around and walk out the door.
Robert Cialdini, author of Influence and Pre-Suasion should be well thumbed on your lobbyist’s bookshelf.
Modelling the best
Lobbyists jobs amounts to helping their clients influence policy and law makers. I have seen clients and lobbyists inadvertently persuade policy and law makers to act against their interests. Cialdini offers up some tips and techniques so they act in your favour.
Maybe a NLP master modeler will get around to modelling the best lobbyists, campaigners and communicators. I guess there must be books on lawyers. Whoever does it, will have a bestseller.
In Pre-Suasion Cialdini identifies what savvy communicators do before delivering a message to get it accepted.
In his first book, Influence, Cialdini identified 6 ways to have your message accepted. He called them “weapons of influences”, namely:
- Commitment and Consistency
From this book, you learn the best way for someone to take up your case, involves getting a third party, a peer, who they respect, to put forward your case, or at least your mentioning as supporting your position.
Another, is the importance of commitment and consistency. Establishing and maintaining your credentials takes a lot of time and effort. Any deviation, or returning to negatively perceived type, has you returning to the start.
In Pre-Suasion, Cialdini mind bombs the reader again with powerful tips and techniques. The book is about how “communicators can elevate their success by knowing what to say or do just before an appeal.”
He observes that “highest achievers spend more time crafting what they did and said before making a request. Set about their mission as skilled gardeners who should know that even the finest seeds will not take root in stony soil or bare fullest fruit in poorly prepared ground.” This is where most effort should go, preparing the ground. Few people do.
Caldinin observes that “every profession thinks persuasion works differently in their field.” He disagrees and notes the “process of persuasion is governed by psychological laws, which means that similar procedures can produce similar results over a wide range of situations.”
Use the Media
Pre-focusing attention on the issue makes people more receptive to it. Raising the issue in the press before you raise the issue make people more receptive to it. I remember raising an issue with politicians and officials on an issue of public health and animal conservation. Their interest and appetite to act was zero. A steady stream of press attention, cumlulimiating in a Sunday Times story, had my phone on Monday morning ringing off the hook, and offers of help and action. Pre-focusing helps over-estimate the importance of the issue for observers. It is a vital instrument for any campaign.
Pre-suasion is not conversion
There is a challenge in using these techniques. The act of pre-suasion is about focusing on who you are trying to influence, it is not about you. You are looking to devise a scenario where that someone will support you. What makes them support you may not be the reasons why you want them to. I have worked to bring attention to an issue to a very small and targeted group of politicians through the press and personal meetings that face the appearance that one issue was of singular importance to that small group of politicians. When a politician reads his name in their morning newspaper of choice, has his wife and friends raise the issue with him over dinner and at the weekend, they start to think this issue is of genuine importance. They start to become more receptive to your case.
Persuasion, at least in securing votes, is not about converting someone to your position, it is just getting them to support your position for that one vote.
A lot of people have a hard time with this. Making someone receptive to your position is about bringing them on board by pre-suading them with ideas that work for them, and not necessarily that work for you. All too often, campaigns, lobbyists and clients only want to win on their terms. Those who do that all too often just loose. I’ve never been in the business of conversion and will take the votes whenever I get them.
Publicity – using it
Skilled campaigners understand that a “communicator who can get an audience to focus on the key element of a key message preloaded with importance”. They work to set the agenda. The media help in this as they bring to peoples’ attention what to think about.
Caldinin points out how Hollywood celebrities crave publicity, even if it is not good publicity. He writes “publicity of any sort spares them worst of all fates because it brings them attention; raw attention anoints them with presumed importance.”
Don’t use this if you have a crap case
There are some health warnings to using these idea. Using these subtle tactics have limits.
First, “any practice that pulls attention to an idea will be successful only when the idea has merit.”
Second, “if the arguments and evidence supporting it are seen as meritless by an audience, the directed attention to the bad idea won’t make it any more persuasive.”
Third, “if anything, the tactic might well backfire”.