TODAY MARKS THE end of Congress’s last break until August recess. That means there’s only four weeks left to pass legislation, a fact duly noted and keenly felt by Congressional members and their staff, the President and his staff, and, of course, lobbyists. This last group has the most sweat to wipe from its brow for reasons other than DC’s unrelenting heat. For while Congressional staff will look forward to casual dress and a light August workload, lobbyists can expect diminished receipts. Although this year’s home stretch will be markedly less hectic than last year’s, there’s still a quickness in K St’s pace that betrays a sense of urgency.
Yet it doesn’t have to be that way. August can in fact keep business rolling for lobbyists if they know where to turn. One option is regulatory lobbying. Agencies don’t go on recess, and they have plenty of work to do in the months and years ahead. (See Lobbyists.info’s upcoming crash course on agency lobbying, “Understanding the Regulatory Landscape: Rule-making Basics for Agency Lobbying.”)
Site visits and town halls are another option. The logic here is that if policymakers are leaving town, follow them. (See Stephanie Vance’s .”)
Site visits and town halls are another option. The logic here is that if policymakers are leaving town, follow them. (See Stephanie Vance’s how to develop a district-based advocacy program).
Some have argued that August is not only more important than conventional wisdom allows, but that it’s in fact the most critical month of the year. Capstrat, a communications firm in Raleigh, N.C., is particularly vocal on this point. Account Supervisor Mike Kondratick claims that August recess is a “championship game” that determines “the difference between organizations that win their issues and those that don’t.” When Congress is in session
…every group is using the same set of communications tactics to move member offices on their issues….[T]he August recess not only creates a month-long window for more highly personalized communications, but it shifts that office’s view of every one of your communications from that point forward. That ability to stand out from the rest of the issue-pedaling masses is something that all of the money spent post-Labor Day simply won’t be able to buy.
In this sense, August is a time to develop visibility. In Kondratick’s words, it’s a time to “stand out, not check out.” Perhaps as the doors of Congress close, others will open for lobbyists. Whether they take advantage of this, however, is completely up to them.