Brussels and Washington, DC Lobbying: Transformed by Social Media

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In Washington and Brussels, Lobbying by Social Media is Increasing

“Many K Street leaders view social media and digital advocacy, not traditional lobbying, as the fastest-growing segments of the influence industry, according to a… survey of Washington lobbyists, lawyers, association executives and think tank leaders”, as Catherine Ho reported in the Washington Post in late 2016.

As she detailed, “the survey was commissioned by the lobby and communications firm Rasky Baerlein…and…confirm[ed] a trend that many lobbyists have known for years…[that] social media and digital advocacy…are increasingly powerful tools to influence public opinion”.

Notably, the results of an MSL Group study conducted around the same time showed “that Europe is ahead of the U.S. in the use of social and digital media for public policy purposes. For most members of the European Parliament, European Commissioners, EU ministers and stakeholders, the role of digital and social media in public affairs is not up for debate”.

Social Media’s global expansion detailed by the World Economic Forum

Nick Routley of Visual Capitalist recently detailed the extent of adoption of social media channels by the world’s population on the World Economic Forum’s blog.  In an article entitled: The social media universe in 2018, Routley explained how: “Billions of people around the world grew up during the age of social media, and mankind is slowly marching toward a future where nearly everyone will be a digital native. For the one-third of humanity that now uses a smartphone, messaging and status updates are often more natural than having a live conversation. In a world where social interactions are peppered with emojis and funneled through a front-facing camera, the platforms we use become more than mere service providers; they are the connective tissue of our society.”

Social Media Now Integral Public Affairs Consulting Business Development

As I detailed in 2016 about the nature of the social media landscape for public affairs advisors:  “Where a genuine competitive danger may exist is between public affairs advisors themselves.   And that battle is the battle for clients.  For example: “The EU’s financial industry spends more than €120 million per year and employs over 1,700 lobbyists to work in the EU institutions” according to a report by the Corporate Europe Observatory, as detailed in EUObserver.  And according to a report in the Washington Post, 11,781 people registered to lobby Congress in 2014.

And according to statistics published by Eurostat – inbound foreign direct investment into the European Union is diversifying beyond traditional sources like the United States to include China, Japan and Korea, among others.  And the United States is also seeing an increase and diversification of inward investment.  One example alone is the rapid acceleration of Chinese investment into US real estate.  [And] these investors will almost always need complex public affairs advisory assistance to navigate local, state and national political and regulatory hurdles.

So public affairs advisors, numerous in number in key capitals like Washington and Brussels, face more competition amongst themselves for a varied and growing potential client base that span the globe.

[Also] mportant for these advisors to note are statistics reflecting an increasing acceptance of digital publishing as a means by which to reach their target audiences. In 2007 for example, 16% of companies used blogs for marketing. By 2012, that figure had jumped to 43%.

Digital publishing aimed at a global client base with diverse needs will help distinguish any public affairs advisory firm amongst a sea of competitors.  And by doing so, you’ll be appealing to clients who have demonstrably already made digital a central element of their business strategy.  But the strategy underpinning those publishing and business development efforts must be well designed before any initiative is undertaken.”

Social Media Resources for Public Affairs Advisors

It’s clear that social media has transformed both the way in which public affairs advisors act for clients as well as generate new client engagements.  To that end, below are links to resources produced by this author which provide more insight into how public affairs advisors can seek to generate more clients via a blend of social media marketing and traditional business development initiatives:

  • Why Brussels Lobbyists Should be Blogging – “As the EU becomes more complex and more lobbying firms enter the market, competition for clients will become fiercer. As studies by US-based Hinge Marketing have outlined, experts who utilize the internet to communicate key messages are more effective at positioning themselves and their firms as experts in their areas of specialism. More Brussels lobbying firms, therefore, are likely to adopt blogging as a means by which to reach key audiences around the world. Will your firm be among them?”
  • EU Public Affairs: Reasons to establish a public procurement blog – “Considering the sizable opportunity the EU public procurement regime represents to foreign companies, Brussels public affairs firms would be wise to consider the possibility of articulating messages about this opportunity to potential foreign clients – via sophisticated digital engagement including blogging.”
  • Public Affairs advisors face a competitive threat if slow to adopt social media – “Digital publishing aimed at a global client base with diverse needs will help distinguish any public affairs advisory firm amongst a sea of competitors.  And by doing so, you’ll be appealing to clients who have demonstrably already made digital a central element of their business strategy.  But the strategy underpinning those publishing and business development efforts must be well designed before any initiative is undertaken.”
  • 10 ways Public Affairs advisors can use Twitter for business development – “In this article I’m going into more depth about Twitter:  Why it’s a good medium for Public Affairs business development – and how Public Affairs advisors can best utilize it for that purpose.”
  • How Public Affairs advisors can leverage social media to reach a global audience – “Public affairs advisors have been adapting to the needs of clientsby utilizing social media on their behalf.  But where there is a genuine potential danger is in not adopting social media as a means by which to attract new clients.  As Holmes notes: ‘Social media is where your customers are; shouldn’t you be there, too?’”

John Grimley provides independent writing, editing, research and strategic digital publishing services to public affairs clients internationally.  For more information please use the contact form below:

 

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