Posts Tagged ‘recess’

“Top Lobbyists” of 2012 Reveal Changes on K St.

Friday, November 2nd, 2012 by Geoffrey Lyons

THE HILL RECENTLY released its annual list of top lobbyists, which comes at an interesting time considering a pre-election want of congressional activity.  (The Senate is holding daily pro forma sessions; the House doesn’t reconvene until the 12th).  I spoke briefly with the list’s compiler-in-chief, Business and Lobbying Editor Dustin Weaver, to review his findings.

“It’s more of an art than a craft,” said Weaver, describing the criteria used to select the lobbyists. “As an editorial team, we’re simply looking for people who shape the debate – people at the forefront.”

People at the forefront indeed.  The “Hired Guns” section not only contains K St. all-stars – Tony Podesta, for instance, founder and chairman of the prominent Podesta Group – but it also includes household names: Chris Dodd, Trent Lott, Haley Barbour, among others.  “Barbour’s new to the list,” said Weaver, “but that’s only because he just returned to lobbying – otherwise he’s a no-brainer.”

But not everyone who was selected is an established veteran.  Colin Crowell, new to the list this year, is Weaver. “Tech is the fastest growing industry in America, and it’s definitely rubbing off on K St.”

But besides attracting more techies, how else is K St. changing?  Weaver indicated two trends:

For the short term, it’s losing revenue.  The August and September recesses have depleted the coffers even of giants like Patton Boggs, which recently reported a 4% earnings drop from this time last year.  “But recess doesn’t mean lobbyists are twiddling their thumbs,” said Weaver.  “There are a lot of big-ticket issues to prepare for when Congress reconvenes.”

For the long term, it’s fundamentally reshaping itself.  Trends show an increasing preference for small, independent lobby shops over the larger, staid firms.  “A lot of lobbyists don’t feel the need to work for big shops anymore,” said Weaver.  “Many of them have been wildly successful on their own.”

It’s doubtful any of these patterns will bring about radical changes in the lobbying world.  It’s safer to assume the Barbours and Podestas of the industry will remain fixtures for years to come.  The Hill’s annual list will be a reliable test for this assessment.

Recess District Lobby Days, Site Visits, Townhalls

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 by Brittany

It’s recess time for Congress, but while “recess” sounds like fun and games, these times are district work periods for congressional members. Congress will be in recess for the month of August, and advocates can be involved in several types of activities to connect with their elected officials while they are home.

District-Based Lobby Days / Weeks

What is it?

Under this approach, advocate leaders work with advocates to coordinate meetings with policymakers in their own district offices.  An organization might, for example, ask members of the advocate network to set up meetings with relevant members of the U.S. House when those members are in their legislative district during a district work period.

Why is it useful?

District lobby day / week events can be a great way to connect advocate network members with their policymakers, but without extensive travel expenses.  Meeting with policymakers while they are home also further strengthens the message about the impact of state or federal level policy issues on the home district. 

When should it be used?

As with traditional lobby days, any organization with a core of committed advocates can benefit from coordinating a district lobby 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.  Advocate leaders should work to coordinate the timing of the event with key legislative initiatives as well as other advocacy activities.  For example, holding a district lobbying event during the work period directly after a national lobby day can serve to reinforce messages that were delivered in conjunction with the national event.

Site Visits

What is it?

A “site visit” is an in-person visit by a policymaker or member of his or her staff to facilities, groups and individuals in their district or state.  These might include visits to:

  • Manufacturing facilities
  • Business headquarter offices to meet with key personnel
  • Hospitals, school, libraries, recreation centers or other community service providers
  • Local chapter meetings of interest groups
  • Special events held by local groups

In essence, a site visit occurs whenever a policymaker or staff person goes to see something or meet someone in the district.  These are different from district lobby events only in that the policymaker generally goes to see the advocate, as opposed to the other way around.

Why is it useful?

These visits help policymakers connect what sometimes seem like esoteric policy issues to the needs and concerns of individuals in their districts or states.  When conducted properly, site visits help “bring the issue alive” for the policymaker.

When should it be used?

Any organization with a core of committed advocates can benefit from coordinating some type of site visit program.  Those organizations with a network that already has some experience with other advocacy techniques, such as lobby days or written campaigns, may have more success.  This is because arranging a site visit often takes a bit more time and commitment on the part of the advocate.

Townhall Meetings

What is it?

Policymakers often arrange what are called “townhall” or “community” meetings to hear from people in their districts and states.  They generally occur when the legislators are at home, such as during the district work periods of the U.S. Congress, although “telephone townhalls” (see notes below) are gaining in popularity.  The meetings may be scheduled to address specific topics, such as economic issues or a local concern, or they may simply be arranged as general “listening sessions.”

Why is it useful?

Townhall or community meetings are generally pretty sparsely attended.  Those advocates who do attend can often get some one-on-one face time with both the policymaker and key staff people.  This face-to-face connection serves to build a strong relationship with the policymaker and delivers the message that the advocate really cares about the issues.  Attending a townhall meeting is a relatively easy way for an advocate to raise the profile of an issue and make the connections necessary to achieve change.

When should it be used?

Any organization with a core of committed advocates can benefit from coordinating some type of townhall attendance program.  The commitment on the part of the advocate can range from simply attending (either in-person or through a telephone event), to connecting briefly with the policymaker and staff before or after the event, to raising an issue publicly.  It should be noted, however, that a public townhall meeting may not be the best venue to raise new or controversial issues.  Advocate leaders should provide detailed instructions and talking points to ensure that messages are delivered as efficiently and effectively as possible.  In some cases, this may mean talking directly to the staff as opposed to raising the issue with others.

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