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Lobbying Experts Share Challenges, Opportunities, and Advice for 2023

by Lydia Stowe, FiscalNote

Lobbyists share the biggest areas of opportunity, main challenges, and best practices for 2023.

Lobbying opportunities 2023

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On-Demand: The Top Opportunities for Lobbying and Advocacy in 2023

Hear experts discuss the areas where they see the most opportunity this year, as well as their insights on navigating the current climate and moving the needle on your issues.

With looming political and economic uncertainty, plus a gridlocked Congress, it may seem like a grim outlook for lobbying and advocacy professionals. But despite this, there are still opportunities for organizations to make strides in 2023.

FiscalNote hosted a panel conversation with lobbying experts to share the biggest areas of opportunity, main challenges, and best practices for fellow lobbyists and advocacy professionals. Read on for highlights from their conversation, then watch the full discussion.

Opportunities for Lobbying & Advocacy in 2023

Some of the opportunities for lobbying and advocacy experts are most excited about this year include:

  • Technology regulation. Social media, the impact of AI, cryptocurrency, and privacy are big issues many industries will tackle in 2023 and beyond, said Stewart Verdery, founder and CEO of Monument Advocacy.

  • Immigration. Two factors this year that could potentially unlock an immigration deal would be if the Supreme Court were to strike down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the fact that the asylum system is overwhelmed, Verdery said.

  • American Rescue Plan Act funding. Many states are still working to allocate the remainder of their American Rescue Plan Act funding, said Terri Reynolds, executive director of the National Black Professional Lobbyists Association. Local governments and for-profit and nonprofit entities will also be working to make sure they can get funding support before the deadlines.

  • Farm Bill. The infrastructure implementation and oversight of the Farm Bill reauthorization in Congress will be an interesting area to watch with a lot of activity, predicted Missy Edwards, founder and CEO of Missy Edwards Strategies. The bill is reauthorized every five years and impacts natural resources, food prices and supply, social issues, conservation, and more.

  • Energy. There will be areas of bipartisan agreement in the energy space this year, Edwards said. The House is expected to complete their energy bill mid-March and “the Senate is waiting to see what they come up with on the energy permitting and siting reforms, an area where there is bipartisan agreement that something needs to be done there,” she said. “The question is, what will they rally around?”

  • Police reform. Many advocacy organizations are focused on getting police reform efforts across the finish line, said Courtney Snowden, founder and president of Blueprint Strategy Group. “I know it’s going to be a tough thing to get done, but really a critical thing that we’ve got to focus on,” she said.

To hear more about the anticipated biggest industries and issues for lobbyists in 2023, watch the full discussion.

I think you’ll see more efforts at bipartisanship this year, even among the most partisan players.

Stewart Verdery, Founder & CEO
Monument Advocacy

Challenges Facing Lobbyists in 2023

In addition to these exciting areas of opportunity, there will also be challenges advocacy professionals must tackle in the upcoming year. For one, the demographics of legislators are starting to shift; with more women and younger lawmakers elected to state and federal offices, fostering authentic relationships is more essential than ever.

At the state level, building relationships with newly elected officials presents both challenges and opportunities, Reynolds said. “So many of your legislatures are either very red or very blue,” she pointed out. “But particularly for those legislators that are in a new quadrennial or have a new set of membership, that relationship-building process is ever present for lobbyists who want to accomplish the specific objectives of their clients.”

On the Capitol Hill side, stark partisan divides are a challenge for lobbyists, Verdery said, with businesses seen as the enemy by both parties. “You see companies trying to figure out a way to appeal to everybody from far right to far left at the same time, which is pretty hard to do,” he explained.

Clients are also struggling to navigate the world of corporate policy and activism at the state and federal level, Snowden said, especially with red states passing legislation against what she termed “woke companies,” while blue states do the opposite and encourage the use of ESG principles.

Uncertainty Looms

Political and economic uncertainty is a major challenge for lobbyists, more than ever in 2023. “This is the first time in 20 years where I haven’t known exactly what to advise people to do,” Snowden said. Economic uncertainty, “clawing our way out of a pandemic,” and fights about the debt ceiling, budget, and appropriations are taking a toll.

That uncertainty around the federal budget is cascading down to the state and local level, Reynolds added. Local governments and nonprofits usually rely on governmental support to advance their missions, so “we are all sitting tight with our seatbelts fastened and trying to figure out what the Republican House is going to do on these issues,” Snowden said.

The Role of Bipartisanship

Lobbying experts expect that bipartisanship will continue to be a critically important component of their work, with people wanting to prove they’re willing to work across the aisle — at least on some issues. “I think you’ll see more efforts at bipartisanship this year, even among the most partisan players,” Verdery predicted.

Snowden used the example of Senator Raphael Warnock’s (D-Ga.) reelection campaign, which emphasized the bipartisan efforts he helped lead in the Senate. This bipartisanship “became a core component of his messaging on the campaign trail,” Snowden said. “We certainly know very little can get through this House and this Senate without bipartisan effort,” she added.

Be careful about badmouthing people, be very kind to people, and do what you say you’re going to do. It makes a huge difference in this business that relies so much on relationships and integrity.

Courtney Snowden, Founder & president
Blueprint Strategy Group

Lobbying Experts’ Tips & Advice for 2023

The lobbying experts shared “industry secrets” to help others in lobbying and advocacy move the needle on their issues this year. Among the highlights were:

  • Get facetime with lawmakers. “Getting up on the Hill is critical,” Edwards said. “Staff and members of Congress are really eager to hear from industries, and it’s a missed opportunity if you’re not taking advantage of that.” Continue making connections to ensure your industry’s concerns are heard.

  • Get their attention. “The days of boring Word documents are over,” Verdery declared. It’s crucial to make your case with multimedia elements, like video and infographics, to stand out in a fast-paced age of information overload. “It’s got to be relatable, viewable, understandable content,” he said.

  • Become a thought leader. Establishing yourself as a thought leader is a useful strategy to stand out as a lobbyist. “Write for fun, write about policy and politics,” Verdery recommended. “When we interview people [to work at Monument Advocacy], we insist on seeing writing samples of different lengths and types. Write on your own time beyond what your job requires.”

  • Act with integrity. Approaching every relationship with kindness is key, especially in the interconnected world of Washington, D.C. “You literally never know who you are sitting next to and who they know,” Snowden said. “Be careful about badmouthing people, be very kind to people, and do what you say you’re going to do. It makes a huge difference in this business that relies so much on relationships and integrity.”

  • Start at the state level. Lobbying at the state level before working in D.C. can be a valuable way to hone your skills and gain experience, Reynolds said. “I know everyone wants to get to D.C. and that’s the fun place to be,” she acknowledged. “But don’t be afraid to start at the state level of government. You can learn those basic processes and hone that skill of interacting with legislators and efficiently messaging your policy position.”

Accomplish Your Lobbying & Advocacy Goals with FiscalNote

Preparing for and keeping track of anticipated political developments in a wide range of industries can be a challenge for lobbyists and advocacy professionals, unless you have the right tools.

“It’s important to have the right software in place to track the bills, what’s in committee, and track for specific clients,” Reynolds said. “That’s critically important for state lobbyists, just so we can keep up with it all.”

Whether your issues are at a federal, state, or local level, FiscalNote’s suite of solutions gives you an action plan to move the needle on your issues. Track policy, manage every interaction your organization has with stakeholders, and give your team maximum efficiency with collaboration and workflow tools so everyone is aware and on the same page.

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Learn how FiscalNote's Advocacy Solutions can help you promote action to affect bills and regulations, as well as assess your impact and drive results.

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