Government Relations & Lobbying
Careers in Government Relations & Lobbying
Government relations, also known as lobbying, consists of individuals and organizations engaged in promoting the interests of their employers or clients. Their activities involve monitoring legislative and executive activities to influence policy, legislation, regulations, or negotiations, on behalf of governments, industries, specific companies, interest groups or constituencies. In Washington, DC, lobbying is regulated by law, calling for disclosure by lobbyists of organizations or clients they represent, LDA (Lobbying Disclosure Act) or FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act.)
Most of those seeking careers in lobbying begin with volunteer work on political campaigns for elected public officials, or as legislative staff on Capitol Hill, in State Houses or in governmental agencies. With such experience, graduates can often move to the mid-level of organizations; without such experience, graduates will typically enter in the research area or in roles that support more senior staff.
Moving in and out of government, sometimes known as the “revolving door,” usually increases a person’s marketability in both the public sector and private sector. There are few straight line careers in lobbying as these positions are influenced by the ebb and flow of politics, or opportunities in the government. From a position as a research assistant, a person may become an analyst or manager within a lobbying organization or move to a position on the staff of an elected official or government agency.
Typical entry-level job titles include: issues analyst, research analyst, research assistant or associate. Salaries vary based on experience and professional contacts.
Government experience is a highly regarded qualification. Strong communications skills, both written and oral, are essential. A comprehensive understanding of organizational structure and legislative procedures is important. Excellent people skills, high energy, flexibility and willingness to work long hours are also important, as is the ability to compromise.
Lobbying requires establishing your goals and agenda before meeting with the legislator, actively listening, knowing your subject but being able to admit when you do not know an answer, building a relationship, and following up unanswered questions or with further information.
Students interested in lobbying careers should consider volunteering on political campaigns or interning with a government agency. The contacts developed through volunteer work and experience in analyzing issues and understanding government processes, can be invaluable. A graduate degree in law or in public affairs/public policy is often helpful for advancement in the field.
Employers consist of public relations consultants, law firms, corporate lobbying agents, public interest organizations, trade and professional associations, political action committees and political parties. A sample listing follows:
Public Relations Consultants:
- Burson Marsteller, www.bm.com/pages/home
- Edelman, www.edelman.com/
- Weber Shandwick Worldwide, www.webershandwick.com/
- Arnold & Porter, http://www.arnoldporter.com/
- Patton, Boggs & Blow LLP, http://www.pattonboggs.com/about/Overview/
- Cassidy & Associates, http://www.cassidy.com/
- Morgan Casner Associates (no website found)
- Piper Rudnick, http://www.piperrudnick.com/
Public Interest Organizations:
- Children’s Defense Fund, http://www.childrensdefense.org/
- Common Cause, http://www.commoncause.org/
- Handgun Control, Inc., http://www.handguncontrol.org
- Public Citizen, http://www.citizen.org
- Public Interest Research Groups (search by state)
- Indiana Public Interest Research Group (INPIRG), http://www.inpirg.org/
- National Federation of Independent Business Inc., www.nfib.com/
- American League of Lobbyists (ALL), www.alldc.org
- Advocacy Institute - http://www.advocacy.org
- Campaign Finance Guides http://ocf.dc.gov/cfg/cfg.shtm
- Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest - http://www.clpi.org/
- Political Advocacy Groups http://www.csuchico.edu/~kcfount/index.html - A directory of United States Lobbyists
- Tom Manatos Jobs List
- Yahoo Directory of Government Lobbying Firms - http://dir.yahoo.com/Business_and_Economy/Business_to_Business/Government/Lobbying/