Tuesday, October 6, 2015

DC Insider: Engagement Drives Lobbying Success

Smaller businesses, interest groups and causes often despair that they can't afford the cost of lobbying to win political influence in Washington, or state capitals for that matter. Recently, Alex Vogel, recognized as a leading national lobbyist by the National Journal and The Hill magazines, reassured that there is a road map to political impact for smaller players. In an interview with Direct Marketing News Senior Editor Al Urbanski, Vogel, who now heads the VogelHood Research firm creating data-driven models to predict national policy decisions, declared that the most important factor for lobbying success is visibility and direct engagement on as many fronts as possible, from home events to legislators' offices. If you are a lobbying newcomer who wants to be heard in Washington, D.C., start with an existing trade association or advocacy group to be educated about issues and political players, and to get plugged into an advocacy structure. The next step is to engage appropriate decision-makers--and to not be disheartened by their unavailability. Meeting with staffers, such as a chief of staff or legislative director, has real value because these are the folks who help prioritize, analyze and craft policy positions for busy elected officials, Vogel stresses. Be assured that the biggest barrier to advocacy success is not a lack of money or professional lobbyists but rather a lack of engagement, he insists. To achieve engagement, use a cohesive, organized and continuous effort to blanket decision-makers at all levels. That engagement will be most cost-effective with a strategy of early and often, not waiting until an issue reaches a critical stage. Vogel cites the example of Microsoft, which ignored Washington politics until faced with an antitrust suit--and ended up spending 10 to 20 times more playing political catch-up. For the whole interview, read http://www.dmnews.com/dc-direct/its-never-too-late-to-lobby-says-dc-insider-alex-vogel/article/441293/

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