5 Steps To Becoming a Professional Lobbyist

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In the lobbying industry it’s hard to distinguish a professional from a ‘wannabe’. From our extensive experience we narrowed it down to five key steps that make a lobbyist a true professional in Croatia.

1. Register as a lobbyist

The first thing a professional lobbyist in Croatia should do is to register either with the Croatian Lobbying Association (link) and/or the EU Transparency Register (link). The Croatian Lobbying Association only incurs an annual fee of €200 on its member organizations, and it’s free to become a member of the EU Transparency Register. Becoming a member of either or both demonstrates a commitment by the lobbyist to operate transparently and also establishes legitimacy in the eyes of the public.

2. Always declare who you work for

Transparency is a must in the lobbying field, and a professional lobbyist should never go into a meeting with a decision-maker without being prepared to give details about the company or individual they represent. According to political scientist Lester Milbrath, the character and trustworthiness of a lobbyist is his/her most important trait: “My personal feeling is that a great deal of the success of any man in lobbying is dependent on the character he has got: his reputation for telling the truth and the facts as he knows them. Once you have developed a reputation, you have gone a long way toward getting unsuspicious consideration from the man you are talking to.”

3. Work under a contract

Professional lobbying should only be conducted on behalf of an accredited institution or out-sourced to a legitimate public affairs firm strictly under contract. Not only does this help to establish legitimacy with the policy-maker the lobbyist wishes to influence, it also ensures that there is a legally-accountable body behind the lobbyist.

4. Always have a plan

Blindly emailing and attempting to cold-call government decision-makers shows a lack of strategy and might backfire on the lobbyist. Researching key decision-makers in the government and creating a clear strategy to approach them is what distinguishes a professionally-conducted lobbying plan from an improvised attempt.

5. Maintain a professional website

In this day and age, creating and constantly updating a user-friendly website with a fresh look is a must for any company. A lobbying firm in particular must ensure that the information provided on its website is up-to-date and accurate. Providing a list of services that the company offers is also recommended.

By: Nikola Zubalj, Account Support & Marketing Specialist at Vlahovic Group, and Gabriella Huddart, Research Intern at Vlahovic Group