What Is Lobbying?

To lobby means to influence or persuade public officials to take a desired action, usually to pass (or defeat) legislation. An effective lobbyist is convincing and persuasive at selling an idea. Originally, the word suggested someone who waited in the halls or lobbies to talk with legislators. A lobbyist’s effectiveness today still depends on being at the right place at the right time. Timing and knowledge are both critical to an effective lobbyist.

Most professional lobbyists do not really sell “influence” but rather “access”. Because they know the system, are familiar with the individuals involved in the process, and are located in Washington or state capitols, they can get their issues heard.

However, access to the political system is available to everyone.

Everyone has the right to give federal, state and local representatives their ideas about a public issue. Communicating with your members of Congress and the state legislature – whether by letter, email, phone, or in person – is the most effective way to participate in your government.

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