Lobbying is a vital weapon in the arsenal of corporate communications. But it can’t be done in the old way: wining and dining the great and the good.
It needs to have a social movement behind it to work. And that social movement needs social media.
Slash bingo tax
A great case study is the successful lobbying to cut the tax on bingo in bingo clubs. Chancellor George Osborne slashed the tax on bingo in bingo halls to 10% from 20% in the past budget.
He did it because of a successful lobbying campaign orchestrated by PLMR on behalf of the Bingo Association. Tax on normal betting is 15%: bingo halls had to pay 20%. The Association had tried conventional lobbying techniques and had got nowhere. Then it turned to PLMR.
Under the guidance of PLMR’s Deputy Managing Director Elin Twigge a new campaign was forged. It used a range of techniques to get the government’s attention. It argued for a cut to 15%, but the Chancellor slashed it to 10%. Result. Hence the beer and bingo budget.
My top 10 tips for successful lobbying as a result of the success of Boost Bingo are:
- Develop an integrated campaign which involves not only those directly interested in the outcome but also the public, your customers. PLMR devised a petition which was used on the back of bingo cards and gathered over 300,000 signatures. It was presented at 11 Downing Street before the budget.
- Use social media as much as you can.
- Have an economic argument: Ernst and Young modelled the effect of the proposed tax cut and showed that in the short term it would cost the Treasury but in the long term it would boost tax income.
- Have a political argument: PLMR identified the MPs with small majorities and invited them to take part. And many did. Even a few votes can swing an election.
- Use a public event: PLMR had a demonstration of over 200 people outside Parliament and had banners from the different parts of the country they came from. MPs with slim majorities were willing to be seen championing their own areas. This created photo opportunities of a MP in front of the banner of bingo players in their constituency.
- Use this local connection to get into the local media. PLMR created pro-forma press releases which could be used in any location of a bingo hall: just add the location and the MP’s name and the message is the same.
- Make the campaign short and sharp. PLMR focused on a year of campaigning, with a special emphasis on the 6 months before the budget.
- Emphasise the social side of the cause: bingo halls are friendly places which provide a warm and welcoming environment for a cost-effective leisure activity.
- Have a good slogan: Boost Bingo is not great but it has the power of alliteration and is simple.
- Here’s the big one: think of the campaign as a mini social movement seeking change rather than a lobbying process for a vested interest.
The result was a saving of £20 million in taxes for the bingo clubs. And the prospect of lower prices, more bingo players and more jobs in the sector. Then tell the world what you’ve done see the video by clicking here: Boost Bingo
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