Consultants are pitching more granular approaches to advocacy as broad, big-ticket legislation moves through Congress.
Since the start of the year, consultants working in the space have been talking about how Washington is now experiencing a boom time for advocacy. It’s partly down to the new Biden administration in the White House and Democratic takeover of Congress, but also because of the scale of the legislation now moving through the Capitol.
“This is the moment that you get the greatest likelihood of legislative action and you have to take advantage of this moment because you just don’t know how quickly things can change,” Mike Spahn, who was recently promoted to be Precision’s first non-founder partner, told C&E.
He encouraged groups to “step up and take their swing.”
“There’s never been a more active moment across a wide range of issues,” added Spahn, who joined the Democratic firm in 2019 from Sen. Patty Murray’s (D-Wash.) office where he served as chief staff.
“What’s changed in my mind is that more and more organizations understand that to be a real player in DC policy and political influence, they have to bring a wider suite of tools to bear. While lobbying is essential and not going away, increasingly the smartest organizations see it as a tool in their tool box.”
With clients more aware of what is necessary to be successful in this advocacy environment, it provides an opening for larger firms to pitch a broader slate of solutions.
“While the big broad campaigns are always going to continue, at a moment of maximum legislative velocity, it’s the targeted campaigns that are most likely to be successful because there’s so much happening at the top line,” said Spahn.
But increasing a campaign’s granularity and variation of tactics comes at a cost. “I think data-driven campaigns take some investment, but it pays off in the long run,” said Deirdre Murphy Ramsey, a veteran comms consultant who was recently promoted to managing director at Precision. “You’re able to track over time how your campaign is doing and adjust and iterate over time, so you’re constantly tweaking your campaign.”
Some shops have opted for tie-ups to help easier package their data-driven services. For instance, comms shop ROKK Solutions earlier this year teamed with long-time dial-tester Engagious on a co-marketing agreement to pitch advocacy clients on a way to navigate the new Washington.
“Strategic communications complimented with hard data regarding consumer attitudes is the trend that we’re heading in as communications consultants,” Ron Bonjean, who co-founded ROKK Solutions, told C&E at the time. “No longer is it viable [just] to provide top-shelf advice, [firms need] to have the data and the market research to back it up.”