Lobbying Beyond “Lobbyists”: Government Relations Group Changes Name

By / Nov 19, 2013 (iStock/Thinkstock)

With strong backing for the move from its member base, the American League of Lobbyists announced this week that it would change its name. The reasons for doing so start with the group’s membership, the association says.

Is the term “lobbyist” too limiting?

That’s a question the American League of Lobbyists (ALL), which represents the interests of those involved in government outreach, has been pondering. The answer appears to be yes: The group announced its formal name change this week to the Association of Government Relations Professionals (AGRP).

ALL has always been a big-tent organization, and I am excited that our new name will better reflect that reality.

When it came to making the move, members came first. Here’s how:

Why this move right now? The group didn’t make its change lightly. It decided to rebrand after doing an in-depth analysis of its programs, its membership, and its growth potential. What the group found was that most of its members did not consider themselves to be strictly lobbyists anymore—a trend that was clear in previous surveys but appeared to be accelerating. The group saw this as an opportunity to expand its name and mission. “We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t change the name and didn’t make the tent bigger for other people to be included,” association board member Mike Fulton told The Hill. While the association says that the perceived image problem with the word “lobbyist” was a factor in the name switch, organizational issues played a bigger role.

Putting it up for a vote: The group’s leadership didn’t just ponder the decision internally; members were asked to vote on the proposal. Among the 35 percent of the association’s members who participated in the balloting, the consensus was clear: 83 percent favored the name change. Its president, Monte Ward, says the vote validates the organization’s thought process and overall approach. “ALL has always been a big-tent organization, and I am excited that our new name will better reflect that reality,” he said in a statement. “AGRP will be the voice of an interrelated professional community that is united in working toward open and transparent debates in the formulation of public policy and ensuring the highest ethical standards are practiced by all in the broader government relations profession.”

Next steps: In a statement regarding the change, the group says that it plans to expand its member offerings to match the new name, moves which should be coming in the months ahead. The group is currently hard at work on a new website and logo to match its new identity, which it plans to launch at its annual meeting, which takes place on Thursday.

It has yet to be seen whether the rebranding will draw new members, but the association would appear to have plenty of room to grow. There are more than 12,000 registered lobbyists in the United States, according to the Center of Public Integrity, and only a fraction are currently members of the group.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »


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