There are various strategies you can use when advocating for an issue if you choose to engage government relations. Depending on your issue, you may decide to employ a single strategy or a combination of strategies to have your issue addressed. Regardless of which strategies you decide to use, the key to successful advocacy is persistence and patience. These strategies include, but are not limited to:
- Lobbying and letter writing
A petition can be a helpful tool to demonstrate support for a particular issue to influence decision-makers. Petitions are a collection of signatures from people who support change for a given issue. Petitions are particularly useful for straightforward issues - for example seeking to implement a new policy or program. A typical petition includes a brief explanation of the issue, a clear statement of what you are asking for, and a list of signatures supporting the petition.
It is important to note that provincial and federal governments often have very specific instructions for petition submission, so follow these rules to ensure that your petition will be accepted.
If you use other strategies and avenues to advocate for your issue, you can ask others to sign your petition as a call-to-action.
Demonstrations are public events that can help bring widespread exposure to an issue. There are many different types of demonstrations, including marches and rallies. A march involves the advocating group moving from one location to another. The movement of the march can often attract attention from the community, resulting in greater public awareness of the issue. A rally typically takes place in one set location, often of political or symbolic significance. Regardless of the type of demonstration, the intention is the same - to invoke public interest and media attention to your cause.
Social media can be extremely useful in planning, promoting and documenting a demonstration, as well as for disseminating information to fellow advocates, the media and the general public. If you use other strategies and avenues to advocate for your issue, you can ask others to join your demonstration as a call-to-action.
Lobbying and Letter Writing
Lobbying involves engaging key decision-makers about your concerns. It can be done through writing letters, emails and meeting with elected and appointed representatives. It can be done at the local, municipal, provincial, or federal levels and you can lobby on your own or as part of a larger group. When lobbying a decision-maker, it is critical to keep your messaging brief and concise. You should be able to summarize your issue in a few short statements, propose 1-2 potential solutions to the issue and have a specific ask for the decision-maker. Sharing a relevant personal anecdote can help convey the impact of the issue and forge a connection with the decision-maker.
If you use other strategies and avenues to advocate for your issue, you can ask others to join a lobbying group as a call-to-action.
You can use these sample letters to government officials, CADTH and PMPRB as examples of what engaging government relations via letter writing looks like.