Lobbyist vs. Government Relations

Earlier this week, we learned that the American League of Lobbyists (ALL) is considering a name change that would drop the word lobbyist. In a letter to the ALL membership, the Board expressed a need to rebrand the organization to reflect the updated responsibilities of a lobbyist. However, the group maintains that the mission to define and defend the role of lobbyists will not be affected by a possible name change. Some of the names being considered include The Association of Government Relations Professionals and The National Association of Government Relations Professionals.

I must admit that I’m a bit torn by this issue. On the one hand, ALL is one of the few associations that still use the word Lobbyist in its name.  Many organizations tend to use government relations (ex. Women in Government Relations, the Washington Government Relations Group). I’ve maintained that lobbying is not a bad word and shouldn’t be treated as such. On the other hand, I understand the argument that lobbyists do more than just lobby. We also give presentations to our members. We draft articles for our association publications. We organize events.

I’m not a current member of ALL so I don’t have a dog in the fight. However, I wonder if an ALL name change is part of a larger trend which may eventually affect what we call ourselves. I have colleagues who do not call themselves lobbyists.  They’re advocates or consultants who just also happen to lobby.

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