The goal of advocacy is to identify decision-makers, determine what it will take to influence them (legally and ethically, of course), and execute a plan to do that.

The tactics will vary from one situation to another and will likely include a number of activities of unequal importance.

Two tactics members may rush to embrace are often the least important - legislative testimony and collection of petition signatures.

Testifying before legislative committees will score public relations points more than it will influence legislators.

And reading a lengthy, detailed statement will just bore legislators - if they are even listening.

The greatest benefit of a petition drive is the opportunity to construct a database. You can amass a list of supporters who can be contacted to participate in advocacy campaigns.

Decision-makers will judge the viability of the activity by the amount of support they believe it represents (and that has to be substantial) and by the perceived ability of the group to generate activity that can harm legislators or help them.

Submitting one thousand signatures to a legislator who represents one hundred thousand voters, for example, is pretty insignificant.

The most important tactic that can be employed is face-to-face contact with decision-makers (in person, not remote).

So, do all the things that comprise a successful advocacy campaign - coalition-building, face-to-face lobbying, public hearings, legislative testimony, submission of petitions, letter-writing and email campaigns, fly-ins, media spots, editorial support, and more.

But always be sure to speak in person to the decision-makers. That is the most important step.