25 Jul The Lobbyist as Quarterback in Washington DC
When you are passionate about a cause, or responsible for an important remit, it is essential that your voice be heard and that you listen for informed opinion. Often, like-minds and those with similar goals will join together and seek to influence an outcome – much as fans pleading for their team to score a last minute touchdown, or a committee of concerned parents vying for higher standards at their district school.
Whatever the cause, whatever the issue, those with the loudest voice spoken in the most appropriate setting will always have the broadest impact.
Yet having a voice and being heard is only as good as the response you get back. Screaming at a coach to play a substitute has no effect if the coach won’t listen, even if other fans around you are shouting just as loud. You need access to the coach, an appropriate setting, and the opportunity to engage in dialogue, for the information to flow both ways. Or you need to be the Quaterback. Now, in sport that’s a luxury most of us will never have, yet in politics a Quarterback is also necessary – an engaged Democracy requires citizens to group together to be heard, as much as those with power are compelled to listen.
That’s where the professional Washington DC lobbyist comes in. To listen, to understand, to place that understanding into the context of government, and then to ensure that a voice is heard where it should be. Our role is to facilitiate conversation, dialogue between parties who are usually too busy doing something else to know the correct protocols, or the appropriate cultural tone, or the finer details of each and every position. We are there to make something of that dialogue, to set and reach goals, to co-ordinate the team.
As an industry, different groups and individuals approach the game in different ways. Our approach has always been to engage ethically, in the spirt of fair play, to work our advantages, play to strengths, and blend well-tested tactics with innovative new touches; and most importantly, to forge relationships that last longer than one quarter.
We are all lobbyists at some point, just for some of us it’s a career and a vocation that makes us the perfect Quarterback.