The Washington Post recently published an article about the changing landscape of lobbying. The article highlighted lobbying firms in the DC area who are shaking up their approach to Capitol Hill. One group models their operation after tech companies including open workspaces and compensation structure. Another ended the practice of billable hours. One firm uses social media to highlight important issues. For lobbying firms with traditional corporate structures, hierarchies and big corner offices, these examples are somewhat radical. However, they speak to a new reality: Lobbying is changing. What can the association government relations community learn from these examples?
Don’t be afraid to try new things
Holland and Knight is a law firm with over 1,000 lawyers and lobbyists working across the US and around the world. Like many law firms with a lobbying practice, lobbyists must keep track of billable hours. In 2012, Holland and Knight eliminated that practice in their public policy shop. This gave their lobbyists the freedom to work with their clients without fretting over time sheets and other administrative matters. While associations don’t have to worry about billable hours, there are others structures in place that limit your lobbyists’ work including a culture of department silos.
Stop pretending that social media doesn’t matter
Chamber Hill Strategies is a Small Business Administration-certified women-owned (!) lobbying firm. During a recent advocacy campaign, one of the co-founders approached congressional staff with a simple ask: bring attention to a specific issue using Twitter. Days later, a Member of Congress tweeted a message to his 2400+ followers. While this tactic may not work for everyone and every issue, it once again demonstrates the value of social media for advocacy.