Why a “Lobby Day” at Queen’s Park provides real value

Why a “Lobby Day” at Queen’s Park provides real value

Craig Brockwell | March 2017

Lobby days can mean significant additional work. But they are popular because they add depth and personal relationships to your normal government relations’ strategy.

Legislative changes outlawing MPP fundraisers came into effect on January 1, 2017. That means occasions to establish or cultivate personal relationships with MPPs will be harder to come by.

A lobby day, if done right, can provide a new way to develop relationships with MPPs. And MPPs really enjoy them as well since these events provide them with useful information. What’s more, it allows you to engage with Ontario’s three main political parties and not just with the governing party.

According to my experience, there are definite and necessary tasks that need to be done in order for a lobby day at Queen’s Park to be successful. It may seem like I’m giving away the farm here, but there is much more behind the following short list of tasks:

  • Numerous contacts with Legislative Assembly personnel to request and the confirm the various lobby day activities (including receptions, meetings, etc.);
  • Creation of a meeting request letter, email or both to MPPs;
  • Delivery of this letter, email or both to 107 (and soon to be more) MPPs;
  • Follow-up phone calls to 107 MPP offices;
  • Additional follow-up phone calls to 107 MPP offices;
  • And more follow-up phone calls to 107 MPP offices …;
  • Confirmation of meetings;
  • Organization of a reception;
  • A number of further tasks.

I regularly have at least 500 points of contact (letters, emails and phone calls) when organizing a lobby day, and put in at least three full weeks of eight-hour days making the calls and emails in order to secure meeting times.

It can be a monumental task and not one for the faint of heart!

As I mentioned, there is much more behind the above list that helps to make your lobby day successful. The messaging and materials are important, as are the relations necessary in order to obtain meetings and to keep meeting requests front and centre with MPP schedulers.

Even on the day of the event, changes can and do happen. On one occasion, I sent a five-member team off site as per the instructions of the Cabinet Minister’s office. Five minutes into the assigned time, I got a call from the Minister asking irately when the team was arriving as she had a busy day planned. When I indicated that I had sent the team to the office number given to me by her staff, she further raised her tone, telling me that I was crazy and had gotten the room wrong before abruptly hanging up on me. At this point, I forwarded the email confirmation to the Minister’s private email. Almost immediately, she called back. In a mollified tone, she asked me to phone the group and tell them she would be there in five minutes. She then apologized, again in a remorseful tone. Without someone to steer the events, this situation could have left a bad taste in the mouths of both the participants and the politician.

In this new environment where MPP fundraisers are no longer an option, a lobby day is a valuable activity to pursue. But, it needs a careful approach.

Depending on the number of participants, the associated tasks can be somewhat pared down. Nonetheless, it can be a massive and time-consuming exercise. I would strongly recommend that no organization enter into this type of activity without help from experts.

I would be happy to speak to you about setting up a lobby day and encourage you to think of Solstice Public Affairs as a valuable resource to help you organize a successful event.

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