Pre-budget lobby groups make wrong pitch, says PR expert

FOUR out of five lobby groups trying to influence Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy ahead of the Budget make the wrong pitch, according to a study.

Research undertaken by public relations consultant Pat Montague shows that 80% of groups fail to influence those in power.

“Approximately 200 pre-budget submissions are received by the Department of Finance each year. However, the vast majority of submissions are predictable, self-interested, and fail to impact with policymakers,” said Mr Montague.

Former ministers and advisers told Mr Montague that many groups have unrealistic demands, and are often more concerned with keeping their own members happy than achieving results.

Most campaigns begin too late, and fail to take account of the fact that several key decisions on funding are made during the summer months, said Mr Montague.

“A former minister described the process of pre-budget meetings and photo-calls with the minister, as ‘a carnival’ that misses the bigger picture,” he said. The secret to a successful campaign is to avoid scare-mongering, and instead make realistic and coherent arguments which will win support, the study found.

“Quite often this approach is backed up by a campaign in the media aimed at generating interest and winning public support for the proposal,” said Mr Montague.

“Successful campaigns don’t sink all their resources into researching a pre-budget submission, resources are dedicated towards lobbying and campaigning to ensure their voice is heard.”

The lobby group must show their demand is good for society, and will not just benefit their own organisation, the public relations consultant believes.

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