Hiring a Lobbyist
Seven reasons you should hire a lobbyist to work on your behalf
1. Your phone call and letters don’t do much
Calling or writing your members of Congress only goes so far. The person answering the phone or reading the letter is most likely an 18-year-old unpaid intern who was trained to recite answers and plug your letter into an excel spreadsheet.
Maybe the chief of staff or even the elected official will look the total number of letters at the end of the week, but it really doesn’t make an impact. The same goes for the tweets, Facebook posts, online petitions, pre-written emails, or other grassroots advocacy efforts. Typically, the only good is to give the organization your email so they can ask you for money later down the road.
2. Getting a bill signed into law is extremely hard
For a bill to become a law, it has to go through votes in the House and the Senate, go through subcommittees who have jurisdiction, get the approval of powerful committee chairmen and chairwomen who control everything their committee oversees, and get the blessing of party leaders who can stop any bill in its track if they think it won’t advance the partisan goals. To navigate this extremely complex process, there needs to be somebody familiar with how Congress works and playing quarterback to make sure the bill overcomes the unavoidable roadblocks.
3. A Lobbyist Know How To Write Laws
When a congressional staffer needs background about a policy or wants advice on writing a complex bill, they reach out to the people who know the issue best. For a congressional staffer who works on hundreds of policies at once, these "Subject Matter Experts" (SMEs) are extremely valuable resources. These policy experts can wield a lot of influence because congressional staffers call them when they have a question on an issue or a specific piece of legislation. Lobbying firms have started paying SMEs lots of money to work for them and look out for their interests when they are working with staffers on their specific policy. Most lobbyists also have subscription services like Congressional Quarterly, Quorum or Bloomberg Government, which provide valuable information and insight about what is going on in Congress.
4. Lobbyists Know The Committees
Lobbyists have an in-depth understanding of the committee structure and have connections to the committee staffers, some of the most influential people in Congress. Committee staffers focus more on legislative initiatives and do not interact with constituents as much as staffers in the members’ personal offices. They are typically more influential because they work directly on the committee where laws impacting your issue are being formed.
5. Lobbyists Know the System
Lobbyists understand what matters to elected officials, their staff, and their unique constituent body. They know the party system, the different committee structures, and the role of the chairs. They know who the influential members are and how to influence them. Successful advocates know which offices their issue will resonate with and can save large amounts of time by focusing on what works and avoiding what doesn't.
6. Lobbyists Have Spent Years Building Relationships
An effective lobbyist will maintain the relationships they made early in their careers as well as work to build new ones. This is the main thing that separates them from average citizens... their relationships enable them to gain access to lawmakers and their staff at critical stages of the legislative process. Just being able to have a one-on-one meeting with a staffer or member of Congress at the exact right moment is a game-changer
7. Lobbyists Help Members of Congress Achieve Their Goals.
The best way to influence a member of Congress is to be seen as a partner and not an adversary. Lobbyists excel at this. They send timely emails to staffers with news from their district, they help get lawmakers’ legislation passed, and they support members of Congress in getting re-elected. They are seen as valuable partners, so members of Congress and staffers listen when they request a meeting to discuss policy.
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