The Changing Lobbying Landscape: Advertising and PR

For years those seeking partnerships with governments and nationalized industries have relied on traditional lobbying techniques to convey their ideas and promote their agenda. The cultivation of these types of relationships has been the key strategy for access and influence in the world of public policy. But that’s all beginning to change. The need to access broader audiences and sway the opinion of the public (constituents) has led to the realization that public relations (PR) and marketing professionals can provide a new angle and greatly enhance their clients’ impact. Businesses of all types, including SMEs, understand that a customized and versatile marketing campaigncan be more effective way to get their message heard. 

Don’t get me wrong: the era of the classic lobbyist is not over. It’s changing, though, and the understanding and acknowledgment of the importance of adapting to the way mass communication has grown means that there are fewer lobbyists plying their trade and more PR and marketing professionals leading the charge. In a world dominated by the demand for instant information and ubiquitous social media, the need to expand on conventional lobbying practices has never been more necessary.

The focus of the industry is understandably morphing from one of individuals seeking to influence lawmakers to one where PR firms are looking to educate and influence the court of public opinion in order to advance the cause of their clients.

The American League of Lobbyists defines lobbying as “advocacy of a point of view, either by groups or individuals.” Another common definition of a lobbyist is someone “seeking to influence an elected official on a matter of public policy.” They seek face time with elected officials to work on the passage of legislation at all levels of government. The also commonly work to block legislation deemed contrary to the interest they represent. Lobbyists are often in-house employees of a particular interest group, union, or trade association. They must rely on personal contact to influence individuals and are subject to intense oversight and restricted by law; they are required to disclose their activities under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995. PR specialists have no such restrictions.

The definition of PR, meanwhile, is fairly broad, but it’s basically using communication to achieve goals on behalf of an organization, group, or individual. It is the promotion of a product or service and often the utilization of two-way communication between brands and consumers. PR specialists are experts at shaping public opinion, which has immense influence on the governmental sector.

In order to shape that public opinion, PR agencies must specialize and excel at reaching large populations – audiences other than just lawmakers. While the lobbyist works inside the government or municipal building, the public relations professional operates on the outside. Online advertising, blogs, social media, and overall brand development are key components of campaigns designed to garner support at the grassroots level that then translates to success within the governmental sector. These agencies provide customized solutions that have not been previously available in the traditional lobbying arena. Old-school lobbying houses are scrambling to introduce PR elements into their portfolios because the demand for mass communications experts who can deliver digital advocacy campaigns, crisis communications, and brand enhancement is so pervasive. 

PR pros know how to enable all types of businesses and nonprofit organizations to better advocate and build relationships with elected officials. An adaptable yet focused media campaign can provide an SME with influence previously thought to be unattainable.

AFK Strategies Inc. helps to build, grow, and protect brands in the U.S. through public relations, advertising, digital, and social media marketing. We are experts at brand strategy and event planning and work closely with our clients to define strategy and identify KPIs in order to track results. To learn more about how a designed public relations campaign can work for you, contact AFK Strategies Inc.

AFK Strategies Inc. is a boutique strategic advisory and business development company that is committed to serving our partners as their associates in China, Turkey, and the United States. AFK consulting services help companies identify and solve their business challenges via an extensive global expertise. The company assists the growth of small and medium sized enterprises (SME’s) in the United States at the local level, while at the same time aiding the growth of U.S. companies in China and Turkey. The services encompass three key areas: business development, supply chain management and brand development. Contact AFK Strategies Inc. to learn more.

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