Association Weighs Letting Go of “Lobbyists”

The American League of Lobbyists is debating a new name. Find out what one association professional has to say about major rebranding efforts.

Board members of the American League of Lobbyists (ALL) are considering dropping the word “lobbyist” from the organization’s name, according to The Hill.

You’ve got to be careful when you change a name because it’s not easy, and it takes a long time.

The group, which has represented the lobbying industry since 1980, confirmed to the paper that it is “discussing a rebranding” and taking small steps toward that end. In an email to The Hill, former ALL president and current board member Howard Marlowe wrote that he was the lone dissenter in the decision to change names and those in favor argue that the term “lobbyist” no longer reflects the work of the industry.

According to a document obtained by The Hill, some alternatives for a new name include the Association of Government Relations Professionals, the National Association of Government Relations Professionals, and the Government Relations Professionals Association.

For any association considering a name change or rebranding effort, tread carefully and do your market research, said Steve Drake, president of SCD Group, Inc.

“You’ve got to be careful when you change a name because it’s not easy, and it takes a long time,” he said. “In corporate America they throw lots and lots of money behind a name change to make you forget the old name. Most associations don’t have that kind of budget for the marketing.”

Drake said rebranding makes sense if an organization has broadened its vision and scope to the point where its name no longer fits its mission and who it represents.

Before embarking on a name change, however, associations should determine the potential effects on key stakeholders, Drake said. “I had one group that changed its name thinking it would give them a broader base of members, and what it did was cost them their core membership because they didn’t know they were members anymore,” he said.

The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance included its members in the discussion of a possible name change and took into consideration both positive and negative feedback.

Another thing to consider when changing names? Despite how small or short they may seem, don’t neglect your acronyms. Pick one that you want as opposed to letting people pick one for you, Drake said.

For example, “No one’s going to say the National Association of Government Relations Professionals every time; they’re going to come up with some acronym,” he added. “That’s how most of us in the association world live.”

Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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