I find it difficult to recall the number of times a PAC director has confided in me that their real career goal is to become a lobbyist for their organization.
Many see the job of managing the political affairs of their company or association as a stepping stone to their dream job – persuading Members of Congress and their staff on a key issue of importance to their employer.
While there is nothing wrong with this ambition, many do not realize that the position they hold is one of the hardest lobbying jobs that exist.
No, their job is not necessarily to meet with lawmakers and staff on the issues– although many do. The lobbyist portfolio that they hold is directed toward their eligible employees or members. And how well they do this job can be directly reflected in both PAC participation rates and dollars raised.
Many PAC directors assume that their eligible employees/members will automatically see the issues they face in the same light as their organization.
Many years of experience have taught me that is simply not the case.
I have come across pharmaceutical researchers who are developing new drug therapies and believe their company should not profit from their successful research– that everyone ought to be provided with the newly discovered medication to help them get better. Highly esteemed organizations such as the American Medical Association have discovered that if meeting many of their long time legislative objectives is called “Obamacare”, it will cost the association and its PAC both members and dollars.
This is the world that PAC directors now face, and it means that they must become the consummate lobbyist when explaining the issues and convincing their OWN people that their organization’s viewpoint is the correct position to take.
Messaging on the issues is more important today than ever. Many people tend to see everything through the lenses of their own ideology or the bombastic rhetoric of a politician or political commentator. Like any good lobbyist, the PAC director’s job is to acknowledge there is nothing wrong with these viewpoints but also convince them to look at the issue in an entirely different light.
And that, my friends, is a serious lobbying job!