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Friday, January 22, 2016

Wendy Riemann: Advantageous Advocacy: An introduction

WASHINGTON, DC -- “We gave the Hill our bill language during our fly-in last year, and the Representative introduced it, so why isn’t it law yet,” the leader of the group asked me in genuine frustration.

The leader did not realize that in the 113th Congress, January 3, 2013 – January 2, 2015, a total of 10,637 bills and resolutions were introduced, and only 296, or a mere 3 percent, were enacted
into law, according to GovTrack. In the 114th Congress, starting January 6, 2015 until January 15, 2016, a total of 7,993 bills and resolutions had been introduced, with 115, or 1 percent, enacted into law. As the Schoolhouse Rock video, “I’m Just a Bill,” reminds us, the vast majority of bills introduced in Congress never even get a committee hearing, let alone actually become law.

It was experiences like this one that compelled me to create this column.

During the past decade of working at various levels of government, I observed countless businesses, groups, and associations advocating a cause and lobbying on legislation. Sometimes it was done well and led to the launch of a governor’s initiative, or resulted in a bill becoming a law, or caused language in a proposed federal rule to be withdrawn. Other times, I privately shook my head in disbelief as a group was not invited back or witnessed an issue fade quickly because of poor advocacy.

Last October, I left Gov. Scott Walker's D.C. office after more than four years as Wisconsin’s director of federal relations. Prior to that, I spent time on Capitol Hill, at a federal agency, and in Florida’s governor’s office. I have been lobbied a lot. I have friends and co-workers who have been lobbied even more than me, and I’ve listened to many of their experiences. In so many cases, better communication and interaction would have led to much better outcomes.

This column's primary goal is to help readers become more successful in communicating and advocating their message to government offices.

Twice each month I will share messages about honesty always being the best policy, the importance of the FUP (What’s a FUP? You’ll need to read!), timeliness, thank you notes, some D.C. nuts and bolts, and more.

Advantageous Advocacy is not a gossip column, so I will never, ever “out” anyone, but I hope we will all grow from various examples.

If you have experiences or comments you would like to share – good or bad – please do.

-- Riemann is president of 1492 Communications, a consulting firm. She can be reached at: wendy@1492communications.com.


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