Why Associations and Businesses Have Representation in Washington

Many organizations and businesses try to keep themselves separate from what is often seen as the tumult of Congress. While this might work for a brief period of time, eventually Congress notices most industries, whether they wish to be noticed or not. This is particularly true if a business or organization earns a lot of money. It is a lesson that both Microsoft and Google learned the hard way. The simple fact is that the sooner you become involved, the sooner you will be able to protect as well as advocate your own interests.

Istanbulls v Milano Thunder
Creative Commons License photo credit: World Series Boxing

How much representation do you need? The answer really depends upon your size. If you run a small organization, a trade association may be enough to adequately represent your interests. It is not an ideal solution, but it is certainly better than having no representation at all. As an organization grows, it usually hires an outside lobbyist or establishes an office in Washington. Some choose both. If you are involved in an industry that is heavily regulated, it is even more likely your industry has representation in Washington.

Persuading Congress, by Joseph GibsonHow much influence do lobbyists and interest groups really have on Congress? It can be considerable, but primarily for the educational role. Take business issues as an example. It is impossible for any single member of Congress to know about every aspect of an industry. Members of Congress rely on lobbyists and trade associations to explain the way in which an industry operates before they form an opinion on issues impacting that industry. In many instances, such businesses may be the constituents of a Congressional member, which means that members of Congress are hearing about the interests of the people they represent. The entire process benefits from good advocacy when all sides of an issue are considered and represented.

There are all sizes and shapes of lobbyists. Most large businesses employ in-house lobbyists in their Washington offices. They may also belong to several trade associations and informal coalitions. Lobbyists may work full-time or part-time, permanently or temporarily. In any case, smart organizations and businesses rely on lobbyists and interest groups to protect and promote their interests.

Are you interested in learning more about persuading Congress? Sign up for TheCapitol.Net’s 1-day course Strategies for Working with Congress: Effective Communication and Advocacy on Capitol Hill and the 3-day Capitol Hill Workshop.

Reference: Persuading Congress, by Joseph Gibson, Ch. 12 Interest Groups and Lobbyists

Courses

Publications



Legislative Drafter’s Deskbook: A Practical Guide


Citizen’s Handbook to Influencing Elected Officials: Citizen Advocacy in State Legislatures and Congress: A Guide for Citizen Lobbyists and Grassroots Advocates


Testifying Before Congress


The Federal Budget Process: A description of the federal and congressional budget processes, including timelines

CongressionalGlossary.com, from TheCapitol.Net






For more than 35 years, TheCapitol.Net and its predecessor, Congressional Quarterly Executive Conferences, have been teaching professionals from government, military, business, and NGOs about the dynamics and operations of the legislative and executive branches and how to work with them.

Our on-site training, publications, and audio courses include congressional operations, legislative and budget process, communication and advocacy, media and public relations, testifying before Congress, research skills, legislative drafting, critical thinking and writing, and more.

TheCapitol.Net is on the GSA Schedule, 874-4, for custom on-site training. GSA Contract GS02F0192X

TheCapitol.Net is a non-partisan small business.

Teaching how Washington and Congress work ™

Select publications from TheCapitol.Net

Comments are closed.