Posts tagged ‘lobbyists’

Dunbar Number, Reason Video Awards, George Washington, Rent Seeking, Fascism

The answer isn’t 42. It is 150.


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Working with the anthropologist Russell Hill, [ evolutionary psychologist Robin] Dunbar pieced together the average English household’s network of yuletide cheer. The researchers were able to report, for example, that about a quarter of cards went to relatives, nearly two-thirds to friends, and 8 percent to colleagues. The primary finding of the study, however, was a single number: the total population of the households each set of cards went out to. That number was 153.5, or roughly 150.

This was exactly the number that Dunbar expected. Over the past two decades, he and other like-minded researchers have discovered groupings of 150 nearly everywhere they looked. Anthropologists studying the world’s remaining hunter-gatherer societies have found that clans tend to have 150 members. Throughout Western military history, the size of the company—the smallest autonomous military unit—has hovered around 150. The self-governing communes of the Hutterites, an Anabaptist sect similar to the Amish and the Mennonites, always split when they grow larger than 150. So do the offices of W.L. Gore & Associates, the materials firm famous for innovative products such as Gore-Tex and for its radically nonhierarchical management structure. When a branch exceeds 150 employees, the company breaks it in two and builds a new office.

The Dunbar Number, From the Guru of Social Networks

It is also the answer to “How Many People ‘Should’ You Invite To Your Wedding?

It is impossible for Americans to accept the extent to which the Colonial period—including our most sacred political events—was suffused with alcohol. Protestant churches had wine with communion, the standard beverage at meals was beer or cider, and alcohol was served even at political gatherings. Alcohol was consumed at meetings of the Virginian and other state legislatures and, most of all, at the Constitutional Convention.

Indeed, we still have available the list of beverages served at a 1787 farewell party in Philadelphia for George Washington just days before the framers signed off on the Constitution. According to the bill preserved from the evening, the 55 attendees drank 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, eight of whiskey, 22 of porter, eight of hard cider, 12 of beer, and seven bowls of alcoholic punch.

George Washington: Boozehound. Prodigious alcohol consumption by Washington and his fellow founding fathers has been whitewashed from American history.

More after the jump.

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The Life Cycle of Lobbying

There is a distinctive life cycle in lobbying. The moment a bill is introduced, interest groups that track that issue will begin lobbying the legislation related to it. Often, reporters monitor congressional committee consideration quite closely and will pose questions to members of Congress regarding their position on that legislation. As increased public awareness is directed to the measure as a result of the media and interest groups, constituents learn more about the legislation and will then ask their own members of Congress to identify their position.

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Most members of Congress have decided their position on a piece of legislation by the time a bill moves to the floor. As a result, communications must be made as early as possible within the legislative process. The astute lobbyist begins the communications process before a member formulates their position on a bill.

You will have far more influence shaping member votes when you concentrate your efforts early in the legislative cycle. However, even when you are able to achieve victories early on this is not an indication that you can stop working. Lobbying, press and constituent pressures intensify immediately before a vote and can result in significant changes in position as well as the degree of support offered to legislation.

Lobbying and Advocacy, by Deanna GelakThe first stage of the lobbying life cycle involves planning and strategy. This includes surveys, research and analysis of issues. The second stage involves education and advocacy, including testimony, letters to Capitol Hill, personal visits, advertisements, emails and mobilizing grassroots efforts. During the third stage, you work on issue maintenance. At this stage you track developments in states as well as courts, while keeping an eye on public opinion.

The all important vote will occur during this final stage. During this stage, you focus on determining the next step. This can include whether the measure will move to the other chamber, joint House-Senate Conference Committee, Presidential consideration, implementation, etc.

To learn more about the lobbying and advocacy process, consider TheCapitol.Net’s 1-day course, Strategies for Working with Congress: Effective Communication and Advocacy on Capitol Hill and their 3-day Capitol Hill Workshop.

Reference: Lobbying and Advocacy, by Deanna Gelak, Section 4.36 The Principle of Early Intervention: the Life Cycle of Lobbying

For more information about working with Congress, see these resources from TheCapitol.Net:

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Engaging the Media as an Advocate and Lobbyist

Each year, countless dollars are spent on public relations efforts that are specifically designed to capture the attention of legislators. Whether it is an advertisement in Roll Call or a web site ad meant to persuade busy lawmakers and staff, a creative array of messages are developed to formulate a successful advocacy campaign.

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The media can be a powerful vehicle for disseminating information regarding policy debates. Therefore, it is necessary to have a solid understanding of the best way to work with the media as well as with media distribution resources.

Lobbyists are frequently called upon to organize media events, introduce public officials, prepare congressional testimony, and serve as a spokesperson. The message you want to deliver will be competing with an increasing number of messages. This presents increased challenges for lobbyists in getting their message out.

The rule of knowing your audience is particularly applicable when it comes to influencing public policy–the ultimate goal of legislative media coverage is to influence the outcome of public policy. Your goal is to reach critical constituents with your message. Simply gaining media exposure is not sufficient, you must influence the public opinion that actually drives legislation.

You must also plan and coordinate. An effective public relations strategy depends on anticipating your public affairs activities in advance and then coordinating the legislative and public relations staff of your organization. Lobbying and Advocacy, by Deanna GelakOne of the biggest and most common mistakes many lobbyists make is failing to include media relations staff in the early stages of planning a legislative campaign. Including experienced and qualified media affairs professionals can prove to be invaluable in your efforts to develop new strategies. The key is to make sure you plan in advance.

For more comprehensive information regarding media training for government affairs professionals, consider our Media Relations for Public Affairs Professionals and Advanced Media Relations Workshop. Also consider Strategies for Working with Congress: Effective Communication and Advocacy on Capitol Hill and the 3-day Capitol Hill Workshop.

Reference: Lobbying and Advocacy, by Deanna Gelak, Section 10.2 Media Engagement

For more information about working with Congress, see these resources from TheCapitol.Net:

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Attracting Allies to your Issue

It’s no secret that the key to gaining support for an issue in Washington is to gather as many allies as possible and then translate those allies to critical votes. Congress responds to pressure, so the more people and groups you have as allies, the greater chance you have to achieve your goals.

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When you begin with a new issue, you want to work with others who share your interest on that particular issue. Determining who is directly affected by the issue will give you an understanding of who your allies might be. Although it might seem obvious who your allies might be, this is not always the case –there can be potential allies that are less obvious.

Persuading Congress, by Joseph GibsonOnce you have identified potential allies, the next step is to get in touch with them and work towards enlisting their assistance in your cause. In many instances these potential allies may not be aware of your existence or of your issue. Lobbyists, whose job is to study every move made by Congress, can not stay on top of everything. Do not make the mistake of assuming that potential allies know about you and your issue–it is up to you to get the word out.

You also want to learn whether your prospective allies are willing to contribute resources to supporting you. It is common for people to say they have an interest in an issue but in the end they do not believe it is important enough for them to spend money or time on it. This can be a problem with organizations and companies when they feel an issue is not especially urgent or if they feel that nothing will be done about it in the near future. You can avoid this type of problem by approaching someone directly affected by the issue in the company or organization your want involved.

After you have compiled a list of people who are willing to work on the issue, get them together and develop a plan. Make sure everyone contributes something by assigning tasks and placing someone in charge of assuring those tasks are carried out.

To learn more about persuading Congress, consider our course Strategies for Working with Congress: Effective Communication and Advocacy on Capitol Hill, and Capitol Hill Workshop.

Reference: Persuading Congress, by Joseph Gibson, Ch. 29 Allies

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For more information about working with Congress, see these resources from TheCapitol.Net:

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