Companies that have strong lobbying practices also have strong influence and power.
By Ashley Siana
Always check with an attorney about the rules, regulations and laws governing lobbying.
In a world that faces ever-increasing political changes concerning the environment, market and society, it is fundamental for a green business to be aware of these changes, but also to have an opinion and say on these decisions via lobbying. It is important to keep your company informed of legislation, and how to utilize your business to influence legislation and foster relationships with other companies that may have the similar objectives concerning business and legislation. Some of the most successful companies are also the companies that lobby the most. The top 20 lobbying companies include: Fedex, Pfizer, General Motors, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Walmart, Comcast, General Electric, AT&T, and Verizon.
Companies that have strong lobby practices also have strong influence and power. Why should businesses be active in public policy at the national, state and local levels? Because business professionals need to be the lead voice on what sustainable policies are needed to promote their goal of a well financed, high quality system of businesses. In addition, public policies at the national, state, and local levels have a tremendous impact on the green economy.
So what are the basic steps to get your business ready to lobby?
1) Establish an office lobbyist
Hire one or more personable, persuasive, persistent and articulate
It is best if your lobbyist is well informed in political science, law, or economics (1)
2) Establish your Public Policy Committee:
Schedule regular meetings and communication, either in person or by phone.
Establish and review Public Policy Program – Affiliate’s statement of positions on legislative/policy issues. Affiliates can use the Public Policy Program developed by NAEYC, which is based on our position statements and positions adopted by the national Governing Board.
Committee reviews and proposes changes/addition to the Policy Program for their state.
Affiliate Governing Board discusses and adopts
Establish and review annual policy agenda – the current legislative and policy issues that the Committee will focus on each year.
Create communication systems to keep local affiliates, members, and the public aware of policy issues.
Create communications systems to alert members to contact policy-makers at appropriate times.
3) Demonstrate your company’s commitment to your especial concerns:
Have lobbyist throw informal events, in order to make connections and spark conversation about legislative concerns (cocktail parties, fundraising) (1)
Involve company and local community to participate in calls and letters to legislators (1)
4) Keep your business informed:
The public policy committee should keep the business and staff informed of its meetings and decisions. Liaison with the chapter should be a formalized process.
Inform via presentations, emails, and newsletters to keep everyone informed on policy
5) Begin to take basic, simple steps of action:
Share research that supports effective and appropriate practice for your lobbying
Write to the editor of a newspaper or magazine to respond to an article or letter
Encourage employees to volunteer to join your professional group’s advocacy committee to help plan and grow how the group will speak out on political concerns
Collect data and research and develop with others a position statement on a critical issue.
6) Contact legislatures:
In order to find the best legislator as quickly as possible, your company must create a presentation for the legislator or legislator’s staff. The presentation should entail the detailed reasoning in for legislators to support your Plan
When making initial contact, your company will need to create a one page executive overview with six main points as well as a handout to be presented to the legislator directly.
The Plan may first be presented to the legislator’s staff. In this case the presentation may be longer, such as a complete PowerPoint slideshow. You may also print out a four page summary to present as a handout. The summary pamphlet should be color printed on 11″x17″ paper and folded to make 81⁄2″x11″ handouts or 81⁄2″x33⁄4″ envelope stuffers.
7) Make political contributions:
The policy committee should decide whom to send your company’s political contributions. Some things to keep in mind:
Set contribution limits
Hard Money vs. Soft Money
Others will speak for businesses if they do not use our voices and input in constructive ways. Businesses have the ability to be their own change agents, the alternative being they can be the recipients of changes that they did not influence (Witten, 2014). Decide where your business will stand!
Again, always check with an attorney about the rules, regulations and laws governing lobbying (direct advocacy and grassroots) in your state. THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE. In addition please obtain a copy of Rules of the Game from the Alliance for Justice (www.allianceforjustice.org). Engaging in prohibited political activities has very serious consequences, such as loss of tax-exempt status.
(1) Herrick, Jack et. al “How to become a Lobbyist.”