ARALE conference

The ARALE Conference took place in Brussels on 2nd and 3rd of October 2013.

You need a story

“When you enter the office of a politician, you must have a good story to tell – if not, he or she will soon stop listening.” Amelie von Zweigberk is a real expert on advocacy – knowing matters from both sides of the table as a politician and former state secretary in Sweden and at present a member of the EAEA board.

“When a representative of some organization has been in my office for two minutes, I usually start thinking: What do these people really need from me? And so do all other politicians. So you got to have one story, one point, one problem – that is easy to explain.”

Close to brutality – combined with a lot of humor - Amelie von Zweigberk painted a vivid picture of hopeless citizens and lobbyists meeting with bored politicians.

She did not leave the audience without hope, though, but rather provided them with an arsenal of good advices.

Prepare, prepare, prepare!

“You must know your politician,” Amelie von Zweigberk stressed.

“Do you homework. What is the formal and real capacity of this politician? Can she solve your problem? If not, do not make an appointment, but find the right one to talk to. Of course, even before that you have to make up your mind about what problem you want the politician to do something about.”

Again Amelie von Zweigberk underlined the point by describing how not to do it:

“Hello, my name is blah-blah. I am working for blah-blah. We are doing a lot of good work. Blah-blah-blah.”

Amelie von Zweigberk also argued for good timing. If you go for money, you have to know the “budget circle”. Is this the exact time when a politician in his position can do something?

Solve her problems!

Another quiet thought that passes through the head of a politician during such a meeting - according to Amelie von Zweigberk - is “What is in it for me?”

“Find out what kind of problems this politician is fighting with. Does she need more press coverage? Is she having an in-fight with another minister for position? Is she just plain lazy and want you to relieve her of obligations?

Do not pose as a victim or a beggar. You are here to help the politician.”

Role playing

Abrupted by bursts of laughter from the audience Amelie von Zweigberk kept on for half an hour of parodies of politicians and advocators and hands-on remedies for advocacy.

Not surprisingly more than half the participants opted for her workshop later that day – only to get involved in role playing advocacy moments, of course with Amelie von Zweigberk as the sceptical, slightly bored politician.