Archive for the ‘From the Eyes of the Editors’ Category
Friday, July 1st, 2011 by Vbhotla
The annual Association TRENDS Compensation Report results have been tallied, and the findings confirm that GR professionals in the nonprofit world are still paid more in the DC area than they are across the country. Within the capital region, the average salary for GR Directors is $163,642 in the District, $156,263 in Maryland, and $151,056 in Virginia. For all other government relations positions in the area, the trends are similar: professionals earn the most in DC, followed by Maryland, with Virginia closing out the list. However, it is worth noting that there were more director-level GR positions in companies based in Virginia than in Maryland organizations.
For more information on the TRENDS compensation report, visit here for the DC report or here for the National version.
Friday, May 13th, 2011 by Vbhotla
A lot of groups rely heavily on email campaigns as their primary online grassroots strategy. According to congressional research reports and staff accounts, email is an effective means of communicating with congressional offices — assuming you can bust past the Spam filters and your message actually gets read.
Below are some tips for effective email advocacy:
- Omit needless words (Eliminate Repetitive Verbiage)
- Messaging over imaging: Rely on text more than images. Messages with excessive images will often be blocked or marked as a concern.
- Include an unsubscribe link. Messages without one are more likely to be blocked by spam filters.
- To comply with CAN-SPAM standards, include a physical address for your organization
- Identify yourself clearly in the message to prevent recipients from marking you as spam
- Keep your subject line to less than 50 characters or FIVE words. Either way, the message is clear. Keep it short.
- DO NOT USE ALL CAPITAL LETTERS
- Avoid excessive punctuation !!!
- Avoid excessive use of symbols (@#$%^&!)
- Avoid words often found in spam mail such as “free” and “guarantee”
- Ask recipients to add you to their address book
- Be consistent by using the same address
Wednesday, January 26th, 2011 by Vbhotla
In last night’s State of the Union address, anti-lobbying rhetoric was relatively low. Sure, there was the jab that “a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code,” and the statement that constituents “deserve to know when [their] elected officials are meeting with lobbyists,”but all in all, no real lobbying talk. And really, it’s not a bad thing for citizens to know that lobbyists are working on their behalf to make concerns known in Congress.
One thing that many in the profession could have anticipated, but were probably still less than thrilled to hear was President Obama’s decree that “If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it.” This idea is not unique to the president; there has been talk of a ban on earmarks all through the most recent campaign cycle. And while there is currently no ban on earmarks in either the House or the Senate rules, it is worth noting that the Republican Conference rules do ban them.
This was a great departure from the emphasis on special interest groups the president put on last year’s address, and lobbyists should be cautiously optimistic about what this means for opportunities for them to effectively do their jobs. If there’s one thing that lobbyists can learn from President Obama, it’s his ability to organize and effectively carry out a grassroots campaign. Prior to the primaries leading up to the 2008 election, many people did not even know who he was. It was his ability to organize and rally people behind him that launched him into the public spotlight and then the White House.
What does this mean for you? In this no-earmarks climate, one of the most effective lobbying tactics will be grassroots and grasstops efforts. In a session Monday before over 60 attendees, Dom Ruscio, of Cavarocchi, Ruscio, Dennis & Associates, LLC, and the Podesta Group’s John Scofield emphasized this point as being one of the best ways to lobby the budget and appropriations process, and indeed it is universally true.
A new study by the Partnership for a More Perfect Union and the Congressional Management Foundation indicated that the number one way to sway a Congressperson’s mind on an issue if (s)he has not already taken a firm position is in-person constituent visits. Take the opportunity to organize lobby days with key constituents set to appear. (Be careful to limit the visits to five people per visit, in consideration of space limitations within Congressional offices.) Go often and make the message clear. Because despite the talk, lobbying is not dead in this Administration nor in this Congress. It may just simply need to embrace one of the key themes in Obama’s speech last night: reinvention.
Thursday, September 30th, 2010 by Vbhotla
Everyone knows that one of the keys to being a successful lobbyist is name recognition. While this requires a lot of hard work and networking for most, some lobbyists have it a bit easier. After having reviewed the names of thousands upon thousands of government relations professionals, here is a small sampling of some of the names that caught my eye immediately.
The other Harry Henderson.
Harry Henderson Jr. is no monster/hit-and-run victim from the Pacific Northwest. As President of Anchor Consulting he lobbies for the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley.
I hold this Dave Thomas responsible for my teenage obesity.
What do you do if you share your name with the founder of fast food chain Wendy’s? David Thomas, Principal at Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti Inc. did his part by representing the American College of Cardiologists. These days, Thomas has found himself another obvious client, the National Restaurant Association.
Be sure to consult The Lobbying Compliance Handbook before buying that round of martinis.
Brian Griffin is one of the top dogs at The Duberstein Group. His scholastic cartoon counterpart would be pleased to know that Brian lobbies for the National Math & Science Initiative.
Deciding on which Kate Moss picture to include was the high point of my day today.
Having the same name as a supermodel wasn’t enough for Kate Moss, the president of the aptly named Kate Moss Company.
This picture might get my mom to start reading Lobby Blog.
It’s not unusual that Tom Jones, president of Federal Business Navigators, recently accompanied a client to a business meeting with the Department of Defense.
Cue loud screaming.
A lot of children can say “I feel good” due to the hard work of Christine James-Brown, the president and CEO of the Child Welfare League of America.
The only thing better than sharing a name with one tv character is sharing a name with two.
You can see Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler, the alter egos of the Episcopal Church’s GR professional David Benson-Staebler, Wednesday nights at 9 on NBC.
Wednesday, May 26th, 2010 by Vbhotla
In April, the Government Accountability Office released its report to Congress on lobbyists’ compliance with federal disclosure requirements. Much to my chagrin, the GAO failed to highlight some of the common filing mistakes that continue to haunt me day in and day out. So, here are a few of the common mistakes I often encounter while reading lobbying reports.
- The “Covered Official Position” box is where you enter any previous federal positions you may have held, NOT your current job title. Federal positions that meet the requirements of a covered official position must be reported for 20 years. Do not enter “Director of Government Affairs at XYZ Lobbying Firm” on line 18. That is clearly not a federal position. While you may be proud of your recent promotion to Lobbying Head Honcho, the Clerk of the House doesn’t care (for purposes of Line 18). But if you were recently the Under-Under-Under-Under Assistant Secretary for Peanut Butter Consumption at the Department of Defense, that may need to be disclosed.*
- Each firm-client relationship should receive its own report form. And don’t post a vague client name. That goes for you too, Firm-That-Will-Not-Be-Named who registered to lobby for the client “Various Japanese Companies, Governmental Entities, Trade Associations & …” That is really not an acceptable disclosure. Unless of course, the actual, legal name of your client is “Various Japanese Companies, Governmental Entities, Trade Associations & …” but somehow I doubt that is the case.
- In the section marked “Specific Lobbying Issues,” lobbying issues must be specific. Entering “Provisions relating to the passage of HR 2454 Climate Change/Clean Air Act” is specific. Entering “Environmental Issues” is not. Entering “HR2847, S1406: Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Act for Fiscal 2010 – provisions related to NASA” is specific. (Good job, Filer-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named!). Entering “HR 2847 Approps Act” is not.
These issues may seem minor when compared to the reporting of financial contributions. But when you’re filing, you need to make every effort to be compliant and accurate. And since filing errors must be corrected through amendments, being aware of common mistakes found on lobbying reports prior to filing could be a real time-saver.
* I really hope there isn’t a Under-Under-Under-Under Assistant Secretary for Peanut Butter Consumption at the Department of Defense. Also, if you have questions about what is and is not a “covered official position,” check out our Compliance Center.
Wednesday, May 12th, 2010 by Drew
My favorite part of the new documentary film about lobbying, “Casino Jack and the United States of Money” occurs in the first half hour of the film. It is a brief clip of archival footage used to show how Jack Abramoff—the former lobbyist whose greed and hubris led to his conviction for fraud and corruption in 2006—grew out of the same “radical” Republican student movement of the 70s and 80s that spawned Grover Norquist and Karl Rove. The clip is of Rove, looking about 14 years old, talking to a reporter about the ascendant College Republicans. It’s fascinating not so much because of what Rove is saying, but because in the clip Rove has hair, a lot of it, shaped in what today would be described as an emo-style haircut. It is glorious, and well worth the price of admission.
Whether the rest of the film is worth watching is up for debate. The film’s director, Alex Gibney (whose “Taxi to the Dark Side” won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2008) portrays Abramoff as a thick-necked charmer who, as chairman of the College Republican National Committee, developed a paranoid anti-communist worldview that eventually led to his staging of a meeting of rebel leaders in Angola. After leaving politics for a stint in Hollywood (where he produced an anti-communist action film starring Dolph Lundgren called “Red Scorpion”, clips of which rival the one of Rove for awesomeness) Abramoff wound up in Washington working as a lobbyist. The rest is history.
Gibney chronicles Abramoff’s criminal activities in detail, and they’re familiar enough that I don’t need to summarize them here. Through archival footage and compelling interviews with Tom DeLay, Neil Volz and Bob Ney, Gibney deftly explains what Abramoff’s crimes were and how he went about committing them. But though this movie is ostensibly about Abramoff and his shenanigans, it’s actually an attempt to portray the entire lobbying system as hopelessly corrupt. As anti-lobbying propaganda, it pretty much works. The problem is, as those in and around K Street know, lobbying isn’t the innately evil industry Gibney tries to make it out to be. Yes, it has problems; so does every other industry. But as we’ve shown before on the Lobby Blog, there are “good” lobbyists too. Unfortunately, most viewers ofCasino Jack and the United States of Money probably won’t ever hear their side of the story.
Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TQXjV3g-Lc.
Casino Jack and the United States of Money is playing at the E Street Cinema and Bethesda Row Cinema.