Because they are not well understood by the public, DC lobbying firms bear the burden of proving they are an essential part of the American political process. A typical lobbyist is an activist who attempts to sway politicians to enact legislation, which benefits a particular group or cause. Paid or volunteer, lobbyists work hard to petition the government, a First Amendment right that gives them credence and voice.
Lobbying constitutes the representation of segments of the U.S. population. Individuals, non-profit organizations, special interest groups, and professional associations are segments that lobby elected officials. By definition, lobbyists are usually paid by clients, have multiple contacts, and spend 20 percent of their time with each client over a 3-month period. Through a revolving door policy, former elected officials can become lobbyists who put their public service careers on hold.
Lobbyists Perform a Variety of Tasks
You must never underestimate the work of a lobbyist. Knowing what one does every day will help you get a better perspective of lobbying and lobby firms. Some daily tasks include:
- Research of government documents and proposals
- Review of key issues through reporting
- Work with coalitions to exact change
- Education of lawmakers and the public
In addition, members from DC lobbying firms are responsible for attending hearings in Congress to keep clients informed about key issues. Along that line, lobby firms help to strategize new policies that affect their clients’ organizations. It is the major goal of lobbyists and their firms to advocate for clients successfully.
Lobbying requires communication and people skills. These skills support networking and fundraising events for client needs. Working with others, lobbyists are fluent relationship-builders who have flexibility and versatility. In direct lobbying, they meet with congressional leaders to discuss their client’s position on pertinent, legal issues. Trying to persuade congressmen, lobbyists ultimately assist in research and drafting of new legislation that is sympathetic to their client’s cause.
In indirect lobbying, lobbyists host gatherings, like parties, where officials meet and mingle with clients. In these informal events, many connections are made, but lobbyists are not allowed to offer money or gifts to congressmen. Moreover, in grassroots lobbying, lobbyists use less expensive tactics to win over public opinion. Grassroots lobbyists often write editorials in newspapers and sponsor letter writing campaigns to gain local officials’ attention.
Now that you know more about DC lobbying firms and what they do, you can surmise the qualifications and characteristics of effective lobbyists. They are well-connected to key government policy makers and agencies, have reputable character, and deal successfully with congressional committees. Lobbying is a necessary part of U.S. politics as the people’s right to petition the government.