Survey finds DC still place to be for GR professionals

July 1st, 2011 by Autumn

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.

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Arizona Cardinals vs. Lobbying Gift Rules

June 28th, 2011 by Autumn

Pro Football Talk reports that the Arizona Cardinals offered free tickets to elected officials to “build a better relationship” with state legislators.  Other Arizona teams have called the practice “a bad idea,” and have steered clear of offering tickets to lawmakers.  While it is definitely a bad idea, it’s a bit less clear whether or not the Cardinals are in violation of state lobbying laws.

If the matter were involving federal officials, the practice would absolutely be in opposition to the HLOGA gift ban.  But in Arizona, the law states that “A principal, designated lobbyist, authorized lobbyist, lobbyist for compensation, public body, designated public lobbyist or authorized public lobbyist or any other person acting on that person’s behalf shall not make an expenditure or single expenditure for entertainment for a state officer or Generic Cialis state employee. A state officer or state employee shall not accept an expenditure or single expenditure for entertainment from a principal, designated lobbyist, authorized lobbyist, lobbyist for compensation, public body, designated public lobbyist or authorized public lobbyist or any other person acting on that person’s behalf.”

Technically, the team is not making “an expenditure” for the tickets, since the team has control over the tickets.  But there is, in theory, lost revenue that could be ascribed to expenditures.  The Cardinals have not gotten in any trouble over the gifts thus far, so perhaps the relationship-building efforts have been successful.  But for the rest of us, we should adopt the beliefs of the region’s other teams: giving event tickets to elected officials is probably a bad idea (and against the rules, according to HLOGA.)

LD-203 Filing Boot Camp with Cleta Mitchell

June 21st, 2011 by Brittany

We promise not to make you run sprints!

LD-203 Filing Boot Camp
An audio training session with compliance expert Cleta Mitchell
July 13, 2011 from 2:00-3:30 EST
ENROLL NOW!

On July 30th all federally registered lobbyists must file, sign and certify their LD-203.

Are you confident you know all you need to know? After all, certifying your ethical conduct means understanding a mountain of differing rules for Buy Levitra House, Senate and the Executive branch. It means knowing for sure that you’ve got all the right supporting records. And it means being able to prove you’ve made substantial efforts to educate employees and ensure compliance.

Register now for The LD-203 Filing Boot Camp. This three-part program ensures that you and your entire staff will come away confident that you understand the rules of ethical conduct for lobbyists and non-lobbying personnel alike.

Grassroots Goes Social

June 13th, 2011 by Brittany

Ignore at Your Own Risk:
How Social Media is Becoming a Driving Force in Grassroots Lobbying
A webinar on June 23 from 2:00-3:30 EST 

Join us for a 90 minute interactive webinar on grassroots lobbying that will teach how all of the newest technological tools can help advance your message.

Our grassroots advocacy experts, Alan Rosenblatt of the Center for American Politics and Amy Showalter from the Showalter Group will set out a step-by-step plan for launching your online grassroots strategy to help you effectively engage your audience and promote a sense of community while effecting real change in Congress.

Discuss best practices for online strategies and employing real-time tactics and answer these three fundamental questions BEFORE you go social!

  1. WHY exactly should you go online
  2. WHAT is your organization trying to accomplish
  3. HOW can you leverage the various platforms for the most benefit 

Register now In addition to learning the myriad of options and how-to’s for social media engagement, you will learn how to maximize your online presence by increasing online trust, and using that trust to move your online advocates offline. The rules of trust in digital discussions aren’t much different than in-person networking, but the tools have changed.

In just 90 minutes you’ll find out:

  • How to promote a truly interactive online community  
  • How to leverage a Congress member’s online presence as a virtual office when getting through to the official offices
  • What is meant by the statement “Message control is dead.”
  • Three elements of face-to-face credibility and how to engage audiences online
  • Two actions that will hurt your online credibility
  • Five mistakes that can undermine your web site’s integrity (and how to avoid them)
  • How to gauge which online advocates have offline potential
  • The psychological tools that motivate volunteers to offline interaction
  • The ideal offline structure for maximum volunteer engagement and ownership   

Webinar Details
June 23, 2011: 2:00-3:30 EST
Have multiple staff members listen in on the same line!
Register now

K.I.T!: Communication Techniques with Advocates

June 8th, 2011 by Brittany

Just like in high school when we encouraged our friends to “K.I.T.” (“keep in touch”) with us during the summer months when signing yearbooks, organizations should be engaged in keeping in touch with their advocates on a year-round basis. However, there is a strategic element to the types of messages that are sent out to particular advocates…

Advocate leaders will need to communicate with a variety of audiences within the advocate network, including:

  • Existing or potential grassroots network members
  • Existing or potential grasstops network members
  • Existing or potential coalition members

Within these broad categories, an understanding of the following details about advocates will be essential to effective communications.

  • State / District of residency or work:  In order to facilitate effective advocate actions based on constituency, advocate leaders must be able to match members of the advocate network with their relevant policymakers. This includes, where possible, both residency connections as well as corporate connections.
  • Connections to legislators:  In addition, the work done in early network development stages to identify “grasstops”-style connections (i.e., that an advocate has a friendship or business relationship with an elected official) will be helpful in better targeting messages to relevant advocates.
  • Expertise / anecdotal connections to issues:  Advocate leaders should also be able to identify quickly and easily those advocates with a compelling story to tell and/or those with a strong expertise in the issues.  This information can be used to identify potential grasstops advocates and/or advocates that can testify in front of committees or help draft responses to regulatory rulemakings.

The effectiveness of the communications can be further improved by segmenting the audience based on the following measures:

  • Level of interest / involvement in the advocacy effort:  Advocates that are more active may be more willing to receive multiple communications.
  • Topics of interest:  If an organization manages a wide range of policy issues, it may be appropriate to ask advocates what topics they are most interested in hearing about.

In short, different audiences may receive different types of communications (for example, potential members of the network will receive recruitment communications whereas existing members will not).  In addition, certain strategies may work with one type of audience, but not another (for example, grasstops members may be far more receptive to a “pull” approach, such as a social network).  Having a strong understanding of the audience will enhance the advocate leader’s success in communicating messages.

For more information or to purchase the Advocacy Handbook click here.

Ethics Tuesday: Beyond Laws and Codes

June 7th, 2011 by Autumn

HLOGA was birthed out of a desire to decrease corruption in politics by increasing the ethical standard to which lobbyists, in their dealings with elected officials, were held.  While some of the reporting requirements are cumbersome, most lobbyists agree with being held to an ethical standard, because most lobbyists are not doing anything questionable.  Anything to “remove the red ‘L’ from our lapels,” as American League of Lobbyists executive director Gina Bancroft put it.  Here are some cues to follow to make sure that even if the current laws don’t cover it, your actions are ethical and you are in good shape to continue lobbying successfully in the long-term:

1) Visceral reaction – What is your gut telling you?  If you’re calling on counsel, because it just doesn’t feel right, it might be because it’s not.  Sometimes your stomach indicates more than indigestion.

2) The Washington Post test – Will this land you in the Washington Post (or other publication)?  If so, in what light could it be portrayed?  A negative story, whether the actions detailed are against the law or not, will affect business.

3) Try to separate lobbying from campaign donations.  Discussing issues at fundraisers or while dropping off an envelope of campaign donations is not unethical, but it is distasteful.  Avoid the appearance of impropriety: talk about family, hunting, the Nats/Caps (the Skins/Wizards might just make people angry), vacations, or anything else that is not relative to either of your jobs.

Lobbying — There’s an App for that.

June 3rd, 2011 by Autumn

Many organizations are exploring mobile apps as a way to enhance lobbying efforts, but they admonish that mobile activity does not replace traditional face-to-face lobbying contacts. Pictured above, the Amnesty International, ONE, and Human Rights Watch Apps for iPhone/iPad

U2 front man Bono, who has oft been cited as one of the better celebrities-turned-lobbyists, announced this week an iPhone app that hopes to make grassroots lobbying more efficient.    His anti-poverty organization, ONE, released an app that provides users a script to aid them in talking to elected officials and allows them to call lawmakers with the touch of a button.

The app, and others like it, makes it increasingly easier for Viagra 100mg citizens to contact their lawmakers and more likely that they will.  I, for one, often run out of things to read across my apps while commuting via Metro to the next destination, and expect that many commuter citizens encounter the same problem.  Mobile advocacy apps will –while solving the trivial problem of commute boredom — put the issues, platform, and means to contact the elected officials literally right at their fingertips, and make it more likely that they will take action.

The American Cancer Society, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International have all launched mobile apps in recent months as well.  The tools often include news and social media interaction in addition to the advocacy tools.

Wedding/Graduation/Baby Gifts

June 1st, 2011 by Brittany

June seems to be the month where everyone is holding bridal showers and baby showers, which high school and college graduations are also in full force. Lobbyists should take heed and be cautious on whether to give a particular gift.

In addition to food, drinks, travel, and lodging, there are occasions when people want to give tangible gifts to Members and staffers – and sometimes those who want to give gifts are lobbyists and the organizations and associations that employ or retain them.  The $50/$100 allowance in place before the enactment before HLOGA still applies to non-lobbyists and in certain instances, the organization or company that employs or retains the lobbyists. However, HLOGA included a gift ban that applies to every individual lobbyist and every lobbying firm.

General rule on gifts:  Lobbyists and entities that employ or retain lobbyists (and registered foreign agents) may not pay for or give any gift to a Member Buy Viagra of Congress or a congressional staffer.  For purposes of the gift rule, an entity that employs or retains lobbyists to represent only the organization’s interests will not be considered a lobbyist.

Type of Gift Factors Allowing Gift
Special occasions:  Weddings, Anniversaries, Babies, Graduations 
  • General Waiver: Advance written request from Member/staffer for general waiver for gifts for wedding or birth of a baby (not public)
  • If no advance waiver, must obtain specific waiver for specific gifts (public)
  • If valued at more than $335, must be disclosed on personal financial disclosure report
  • Waiver may be requested on case-by-case basis for significant anniversaries and graduations

 

Gifts to Spouses or relatives of Members/staffers
  • Gifts to spouses or relatives of Members and staff may not be accepted if given to circumvent the prohibitions on gifts to Members and staffers

 

 

For more information or to purchase the Lobbying Compliance Handbook click here.

Middle East Lobbying

May 25th, 2011 by Autumn

With every battle — be it over healthcare, transportation, Medicare, or democracy — comes lots of money to be spent (and made) to get voices heard. The conflicts in the Middle East are no different.

Pakistan – As lawmakers grapple with whether or not to rescind foreign aid to the embattled country and whether or not to allow duty-free “reconstruction opportunity zones” in Pakistan, the Pakistani Embassy is revving up its lobbying efforts.  The nation which housed Osama bin Laden (knowingly or unknowingly) for the past 10 year paid Locke Lord Strategies $150,000 in the first quarter of this year to work on budget/appropriations/acquisitions, defense and predictably, foreign policy and affairs issues in Congress.  According to records filed with the DOJ, the firm gets a Generic Cialis $75,000 monthly retainer from Pakistan.

Lobbying is not restricted to nations with present conflict in which the U.S. is directly involved.  Jordan is paying more weekly than Pakistan is signed up to pay Locke Lord Strategies monthly.  With a huge interest in seeing its embassy upgraded “strategically as a key node in a network of relationship involving state and non-state actors,” the nation shells out $77,000 each week to the Racepoint Group to help raise Jordan’s profile and support among Congressmen.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee spent $716,615 in the first quarter of 2011 to petition for continued aid to Israel, West Bank, and Gaza, and for the Iron Dome and anti-rocket system in addition to continued sanctions on Iran.

Weekly Lobbying News Round-up

May 20th, 2011 by Autumn

There were lots of K Street moves and changes this week.

Perhaps the biggest of these was the formation of a new Democratic firm: Democracy Partners.  The firm will handle political messaging, campaign planning and management, field programs, television and radio advertising, earned media, direct mail, website development, new media, research, nonprofit organizations, philanthropies, issue campaigns, voter registration drives, labor union campaigns, fundraising, grass-tops advocacy, staff recruitment and development, organizer training, phone operations, community organizing and voter contact programs, according to Politico.

Additionally, Edelman acquired Lombardo Consulting Group, and Steve Lombardo will serve as Global CEO of StrategyOne (the Edelman company he founded in 1999).

Tommy Thompson, former Secretary of Health and Human Services and potential Senate candidate, was elected chairman of the board of Stayhealthy, Inc., which offers personalized health measurement and assessment tools.

PHRMA, in an effort to reorganize, has let go four staff members: Ed Belkin, Kevin Barbour, Diedtra Henderson and Cindy Loose.

ALERT: Executive Order Could Increase Disclosure Requirements

May 19th, 2011 by Autumn

There has been sharp concern voiced over provisions a new executive order which proposes all government contractors should disclose their political contributions.  If enacted, the order would require officers and directors and subsidiaries and affiliates of a company bidding for government contracts to submit a report detailing any contributions made directly to candidates or third party independent expenditure groups using the funds for electioneering activities.

These new provisions have been likened to “pay-to-play” laws on the state level, though the Executive Order, unlike state laws, would not limit the number of contributions.  Included would be a two year look-back, with donations for two years prior to the bid also subject to disclosure, which would be required if $5,000 or more was spent on political activities.

Critics say that the order would foster partisanship in contracting practices, damper First Amendment rights to participate in the political process, and add a tremendous burden on contractors.

It is important to note that the Executive Order would not require disclosure of contributions made by the spouses or children of the directors or officers whose own contributions would trigger reporting, nor would it include senior executives or other staff to report giving

Off the Hill: NFL Fight Wages on….in Congress

May 18th, 2011 by Autumn

As NFL negotiations drag on, it is safe to say football fans and players alike — and even President Obama — are tiring of the on-going battle between the NFLPA and the League over contracts.  Top receiver and Twitter celebrity Chad Ochocinco told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s D. Orlando Ledbetter, when prompted about whether or not he’d like to play for the Falcons, “It’s a lockout, man.  I’m riding bulls.  I don’t want to talk about football.”

On the Hill, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and such former NFL players as Reps. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., and Jon Runyan, R-N.J. have all met with players to discuss the impact of a lockout on the economy and the overall jobs crisis.

The league spent a whooping $675,000 lobbying Congress in the first Online Blackjack quarter of 2011, including $60,000 paid to Elmendorf Ryan, which is registered to lobby solely on labor issues. The NFLPA also dished out $60,000 to Executive Director DeMaurice Smith’s former firm, Patton Boggs LLP, to petition Congress on antitrust and labor concerns.  For the league, this number is up from the $545,000 spent in the first quarter of last year, though the issues petitioned remain unchanged.  However, the addition of Elmendorf Ryan seems to have been solely in anticipation of a labor fight, as the firm was not registered to lobby on behalf of the league this time last year.  The Players’ Association, on the other hand, spent significantly less in Q1 2011 than reported in the same quarter last year, when Patton Boggs was paid $110,000 to fight for the players’ interests.

Best Practices for Effective Email Advocacy

May 13th, 2011 by Autumn

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

Spring Forward into Lobby Days

May 11th, 2011 by Brittany

Lobby days are a good way to connect with elected officials and their staff at their offices in Washington, D.C., or at the state capital. Although advocates are ultimately responsible for making those connections, a lot of planning and effort must be undertaken by the organization hosting the lobby day – as well as the advocates!

What are they?

For purposes of this manual, the term “lobby day” is used to refer to any effort to connect advocates with policymakers through meetings, either physically or virtually, on a given day or week.  Some organizations might refer to these events as “advocacy days,” “fly-ins” or “Capitol Hill days.” Members of the legislative branch are usually the target audience for these events, although some organizations arrange meetings with regulators and other members of the executive branch, such as staff of the governor’s office.

Why is it useful?

Recent reports suggest that in-person meetings from constituents are one of the most effective ways to influence elected officials.

When should it be used?

Any organization with a core of committed advocates can benefit from coordinating a lobby day event, either individually or in concert with a coalition partner.  Lobbying events are most successful, however, when the organization has a specific policy agenda and core ask. 

Asking advocates to get involved

Asking advocates to participate in a lobby day effort Viagra generally involves more than simply sending out an action alert and hoping people respond, particularly for those situations where advocates will be investing their own time and money.  Options for marketing the event include:

  • Conference marketing materials, including brochures, mailers and web site information.  Marketing materials should include links to online and hard copy registration materials
  • Press releases about the event to industry publications
  • Outreach through coalitions
  • Articles / columns in the organization’s own publications
  • Web 2.0 outreach techniques, such as setting up a Facebook or MySpace page for the event

Key points to consider in developing the materials:

  • Outline the value of direct constituent communications in influencing the policymaking process.  Advocates need to understand why their direct participation is critical to policy success.
  • Be sure that advocates know what they are agreeing to do when registering for the event.  Unless advocate leaders are very specific about what the event entails, some advocates may not understand that they will be meeting individually or in small groups with their policymakers.
  • Ensure that the registration form captures all relevant information, including the address to be used for matching advocates with policymakers and cell phone numbers.
  • Establish an early bird deadline that allows those scheduling the meetings enough time to initiate meeting requests and coordinate schedules.

For more information or to purchase the Advocacy Handbook click here.

NEW TRAINING SESSION: Lobbying and Government Contracting

May 5th, 2011 by Brittany

Lobbying and Government Contracts:
What You Need to Know About Domestic Preferences in Federal Contracts and Grants
May 31, 2011 2:00-3:30 pm EST
Register now

It’s time to take a new look at government contract proposals.

That’s because recent laws like the Buy American Act, Trade Agreements Act, ARRA and rules on specialty metals change the playing field. Unless contractors change their proposals and how they execute contracts, access to money from local, state and federal agencies is simply out of reach.

Why risk it? Here’s how to align contracting strategy with today’s new “domestic preference” requirements.

Register now for Lobbying and Government Contracts: What You Need to Know About Domestic Preferences in Federal Contracts and Grants. Government contracts provide relatively Viagra Online certain income in an uncertain economy. Now, this audioconference shows you how to use a sharp and current understanding of “buy American” requirements to avoid having bids and proposals disqualified — and losing access to tens of thousands of dollars in government awards.

Govcon experts will map out exactly how proposal writing needs to change to comply with the domestic preference requirements in the Buy American Act, Trade Agreements Act, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), specialty metals law and other recent pieces of legislation. Plus, the Q&A session at the end gives you the chance to ask about specific challenges you’re facing. 

Reserve your space now to use “buy American” know-how to sharpen your procurement toolkit and your competitive edge.