Posts Tagged ‘Congressional Communications Report’

David Rehr: 7 tips for Embassy Relations with Capitol Hill

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012 by Geoffrey Lyons

David Rehr is author of The Congressional Communications Report and has been listed as one of the nation’s top lobbyists.  He is an adjunct professor at the Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) at The George Washington University.  David can be contacted  at davidrehr@guw.edu. 

LAST WEDNESDAY, I was honored to participate in the Country Promotion Strategies Conference: a gathering of over 200 ambassadors and embassy personnel for a day of presentations on how to best maneuver Washington’s corridors of power.

While there, I shared with the crowd seven tips that foreign diplomats should consider when interacting with Congress.

The research below comes from The Congressional Communications Report (hereafter CCR), a landmark study on communication methods used by lobbyists in their dealings with congressional staff.

1. Provide credible information:

According to CCR, the most successful way to gain influence and access with congressmen and their staff is to provide credible information. At least this is what 46% of survey respondents thought, which is more than double the support given to the next most popular answers:

2. Have an existing relationship with members/staff (28%)
3. Have a reputation of seeking meetings (12%).

Neither brand nor money is at the top of the list. This indicates a playing field far more level than conventional wisdom would have it.

2. Use email:

This is the preferred method of contact with congressional staff. In fact, 67% of staff prefer email, while:

18% prefer the phone,
10% prefer meeting in person,
4% prefer mailed letters, and a paltry
0.1% prefer social media.

3. …and when you do use email, make it short and to the point:

Not just because this is easier for the recipient, but also because it’s easier for the phone. Mobile devices used on Capitol Hill are probably different from those used by your embassies. CCR shows that only 9% of Hill staff use iPhones, 2% use the Android, and a whopping 85% use Blackberry. The implication is that you need to minimize graphics, superfluous information, and anything that impedes the ability to click on your message. If it takes more than a couple of seconds to load, it will be deleted or skipped.

4. Stay in touch with the Congressional Research Service:

CCR shows that the Congressional Research Service (CRS) is the most valuable source of information for congressional staff. This is followed by:

2) Academic/issue experts
3) The Congressional Budget Office (CBO)
4) Other Capitol Hill Staffers

Embassies should therefore consistently review how their country is being portrayed by these sources. They should also consider how and where to make a positive impact.

5. Improve your position on Google:

While staff rated the CRS and issue experts the most valuable sources, their preferred sources were slightly different:

1) Internet Searches
2) CRS
3) Other Capitol Hill Staffers
4) Relevant Federal Agencies

This means embassies should be Googling their country’s name to see what comes up. Whatever is there will be the foundation of many a staffer’s judgments.

6. Understand what actually influences decisions:

CCR measured 16 different lobbying tools. Here are several to keep in mind:

1) Reliable and concise information
2) Constituent support
3) Hiring of former members of Congress

It is important to note that there are substantial differences between Republican and Democratic staff on which tools are most effective.

7. Be cognizant of a Hill staffer’s daily routine:

Everyone knows that Hill staffers are busy, and CCR certainly confirms that. The average staffer receives 134 emails daily, with only 18% reading all of them. Some other stats:

20% of Hill staff visit more than twenty websites daily
25% conduct more than 20 web searches daily
77% meet with two or less lobbyists daily
72% meet with two or less other Hill staffers daily

Click here for a full version of The Congressional Communications Report. 

Lobbying Tools that Influence Congressional Decision-Making: What is More Effective, What is Less Effective

Thursday, July 19th, 2012 by Vbhotla

LobbyBlog is happy to introduce another guest writer: Dr. David Rehr with the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management.

The complexity of influencing or affecting public policy in Washington, DC has never been greater.  According to Lobbyists.Info over $8.1 billion dollars was spent in the last two years by the lobbying community trying to affect the outcome of laws and regulations in the U.S.
Congress.

For many, “lobbying” is a bad word.  It connotes individuals using inside information, their personal connections, or other tools to impact the minds of 100 U.S. Senators, 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the over 12,000 congressional staffers that work in the legislative branch.

The focus of today is to help clarify which advocacy tools work and which do not work when an individual or organization wants to passionately impact the legislative process in Washington.

Newly released research from the Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) at George Washington University (www.gspm.gwu.edu) provides clues never before unearthed.

THE CONGRESSIONAL COMMUNICATIONS REPORT (www.CongressionalCommunicationsReport.com) provides a monumental look at how America communicates with the Congress.  The nearly 3,000 congressional staff and lobbyists who participated in this study provided incredible insights and valuable outcomes measurement.

One question was designed to find out from congressional staff which lobbying tools influence members of Congress’ decision-making (just some of the 16 advocacy tools are listed below).

“In your opinion, how effective are each of the following lobbying activities in influencing or shaping members of congress’ decision-making on legislative issues?”

Lobbying Activities Very
Effective (4 & 5)
Not at all
effective (1 & 2)
Providing consistently
reliable information
87% 2.3%
Presenting a concise
argument
85.2% 3.9%
Holding face-to-face
meetings
58.4% 10.9%
Making a pending vote an
organizational “KEY
VOTE” with
results to be
communicated to
organization’s
membership
29.2% 36.4%
Conducting opinion
surveys,
Polls
17.7% 43.1%
Bringing in former
members
of congress
25% 38.1%
Organizing
email/postcard/call
Campaigns
13.1% 57.7%

The tools are pretty straight forward.  Most interesting is that congressional staff ranked “providing consistently reliable information” and “presenting a concise argument” as their top choices.  This means that every American can influence the process provided they are able to meet these expectations.

Another “takeaway” is that these tools need to be “laddered” in their use and by the resources available.  Less effective advocacy tools include making a vote a “KEY VOTE,” using surveys or polls to affect outcomes, or leveraging former members to affect their former colleagues or staff.

Here’s one insight: Take a look at the advocacy tools you use.  Make an honest assessment of what works and what doesn’t.  Then, measure your assessment against this landmark research to see how it fares.  It will help you be even more effective.

Another question asked how congressional staff learns about policy issues.  This reveals to citizen advocates and professional lobbyists where hey need to go to ‘shape’ the conversation (just a few of the 19 areas asked about are below).

“How valuable are each of the following as ways for you to learn about policy issues?”

Ways to learn Valuable/Very
Valuable
Slightly
Valuable/Not at all Valuable
Congressional Research
Service (CRS)
85.8% 3.3%
Academic or issue
experts
81.5% 4.3%
Blogs 51.3% 16.7%
Constituents 50.3% 19.6%
Internet Searches 50.3% 15.7%
Survey and poll results 26% 37.8%
Interest Group websites 22.9% 27.5%
Social media 12.2% 61.1%

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) and academic and issue experts were selected as two of the most valuable tools. Blogs, Constituents and Internet Searches fall into a second tier; Interest Group websites, and Survey and polls results are in the third tier.

Despite social media’s deep penetration into other parts of our society, it is not considered a valuable resource to inform policy at all by congressional staff.

Here’s one insight: As yourself and your team if you are connected with the CRS and do their researchers seek you out for data, empirical evidence or your unique perspective on an issue they are researching.  Frankly, I don’t think many of us in the advocacy business think much about CRS.  But we should since the data clearly indicates that congressional staffers find it highly valuable.

THE CONGRESSIONAL COMMUNICATIONS REPORT answers many of the questions I have been asking for decades.  It’s a treasure-trove of data for those who want to be at the pinnacle of the advocacy field.

 

David Rehr, PhD, is the lead researcher for THE CONGRESSIONAL COMMUNICATIONS REPORT and an Adjunct Professor at the Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) at George Washington University.  He is former CEO of the National Beer Wholesalers Association and the National Association of Broadcasters.  He has been recognized as one of the most effective advocates in the nation’s capital.  He can be reached at DavidRehr@gwu.edu or 202-510-2148.

 

 

Lobbyists.info set to release report on landmark Congressional Communications Report

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012 by Vbhotla

As the writer of both Lobbyblog and one of the authors of this report, I am extremely excited to announce that it is nearly complete and almost ready for sale. While I have gone out of my way to avoid mentioning all the work that has gone into this report the past few weeks, I want to share with LobbyBlog readers part of the release for the Report so that they can know about this landmark study.

Lobbyists.info, in partnership with the Original U.S. Congress Handbook, George Washington University School of Political Management, and research partner ORI, is set to release the landmark “Congressional Communications Report.”

The report is the result of one of the largest surveys ever completed of Congressional staff and the lobbying community. Of nearly 3,000 responses, more than 700 came directly from Congressional staff.
“We have been overwhelmed by the number of surveys we’ve gotten back. To get this kind of response from the Congressional community and lobbying industry is incredible” remarked Dr. David Rehr, one of the survey’s creators. “I’m unaware of any Hill survey that is even close to the kind of numbers we’ve been seeing.”

Also shocking is the disconnect the numbers reveal between lobbyists and staff. “Lobbyists with 10, 15, even 20 years of experience may no longer know how best to interact with this current group of Congressional staff. A lot of what they are doing and information they are putting out there is just getting lost in the shuffle. People who have been working in the industry for a long time will be play online pokies amazed, and maybe even disturbed, by the difference in lobbyists’ perception of what staff thinks verses reality.” Remarked Joel Poznansky, President of Columbia Books Inc., parent company of Lobbyists.info & The Original U.S. Congress Handbook.

The report covers with detailed charts and analysis:

· The best ways to contact members of Congress and their staffs

· How changes in Hill demographics that have shifted perspective – and what common practices can now be a waste of resources

· What factors determine who gets access to Members or Hill staff

· How staffers prefer to learn about issues

· What lobbying tactics get results

· Which Congressional staffers are engaged in social media – and why

· How to walk the fine line between information and information overload

· Surprising findings about how staffers view bias in today’s information age and how they weigh it

· How staffers interact with each other and with media during their work day

· What types of media staffers prefer to hear, read and see

Lobbyists.info and the report’s sponsors are also holding a June 12th breakfast for the launch of the report. At the event an expert panel of lobbyists, researchers and Congressional staff, will break down the results and reveal groundbreaking news for an audience of industry insiders and lobbyists. Using the hard numbers in the report, strategies for how to best maximize lobbying time and money will be analyzed, discussed and dissected.

The Congressional Communications is currently available for pre-order at www.congressionalcommunicationsreport.com and will be published in June 2012. For more information on the expert panel breakfast in Washington DC on June 12, 2012 please visit www.congressionalcommunicationsreport.com/live