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BACon BLOGBACon BLOG - Your Lobbyist is the Least Effective Lobbyist Around

Every association with a substantial interest in the area of government affairs, whether federal, state or local, needs to have lobbyists on their payroll. This can be either someone on your association staff or an external lobbying firm, or a combination of the two.

Your lobbying team will have knowledge about the legislative and regulatory process, they will know the key legislators, committees and regulators of importance to your association, and will know the issue environment in Washington, state capitols and other jurisdictions that are critical to your members. Your lobbyists will also be called upon to attend meetings with these legislators and regulators to advance the positions of your association on these critical issues.

But the reality is that your lobbyists are the least effective lobbyists you’ve got. You are a much more effective lobbyist than any lobbyists on your staff or from a lobbying firm.

Legislators are more interested in hearing from the people they represent (that would be you) than in any paid lobbyists. One reason why is that they want to be reelected and meeting and getting to know the people that will be voting for them is important to them. Another reason is that they want to hear about issues that are important to their constituents (that would be you again) and getting it straight from someone back home allows them to do this. That is what representative government is all about… they represent you and want to hear from you so they can do a better job.

Regulators want to hear directly from the members of the profession or industry that they are responsible for regulating. This helps them do their job better and, ideally, produces better regulations. As frustrating as it may be at times dealing with the myriad of regulations from Washington and the states, it is more often the case that regulators are trying to do the best job they can and talking to you helps them do that.

Now don’t misunderstand… you need your lobbying team to help your association achieve the legislative and regulatory goals of importance to your members. And their number one job should be to position you and your members so that you can be as effective as possible when you meet with legislators and regulators.

John Barnes is President of Barnes Association Consultants. Barnes Association Consultants helps association Boards and CEOs address the wide range of challenges and opportunities facing today’s association leaders. Barnes Association Consultants helps association leaders make their associations better. 

John can be reached at or 703.321.6866. For more information about Barnes Association Consultants, go to