Most businesses put a huge emphasis on sales but often what is really needed is to influence people – and that’s where public relations scores over advertising every time.
Almost every business needs to be lobbying in some way. That might be trying to influence local, national and international Governments or at least to let them see the world from your point of view.
Laws are often passed in a knee-jerk way following an incident with little regard to the way it will affect a particular industry. A minor change in a law or in attitudes of those in power can finish off a business – or on the other hand open up new opportunities.
At Empica we have worked alongside charities, special interest groups and businesses to support their lobbying and influencing. Sometimes it is on a particular project in a local area, such as a planning application or development idea.
Finding the people within a community who appreciate what you are doing and encouraging them to support a project may be the first step. Seeking out those who may initially be sceptical or against a plan and showing them that you are willing to listen, change some aspects, and appreciate their views may be another.
Sometimes it is national or international influence that is needed. The key nationally is often to find an MP who will champion the cause. They all register their interests and simple internet searches these days will often find someone who is at least willing to listen.
An MP can open the doors to the House of Commons for a discussion and support profile-raising through the mainstream and online media. Of course Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc are all good tools for finding supporters to any cause.
So, what should businesses do? Firstly, work out who you need to influence and why. Then use both direct and indirect approaches to start getting your message across.
Consistent stories in the media about a subject – shortage of a certain type of employee, need for certain facilities in an area etc, are the indirect approach. Holding an event and inviting influential people may be the first step to some lobbying.