With Name Change a Success, Government Relations Group Looks Beyond Hill

Whether or not you’re convinced that the Association of Government Relations Professionals changed its name in late 2013 to get away from the term “lobbyist,” it’s hard to argue with the results: The group has hundreds of new members on board.

In late 2013, the chatter around the Association of Government Relations Professionals (AGRP) went something like this:

The association discussed changing its name from the American League of Lobbyists, something that critics assumed was an attempt to hide lobbying from its history.

In November 2013, the association officially made the change after much soul-searching, emphasizing that the approach was meant to expand the definition of what its association could do—something that made sense, considering most of its members don’t consider themselves lobbyists.

It’s now been a little more than a year since the change took effect, and the results speak for themselves: The association has nearly 300 more members than it did at the start of 2014—a significant surge for a group with roughly 1,150 members. And the increased scope has made way for a wider array of member services.

The association’s new executive director, Robert Hay Jr., CAE, who took over at the association after serving as the associate director of large staff and government relations at ASAE, told The Hill that the group’s new approach has created new opportunities to serve its membership.

“It’s more than just changing the name and changing the logo, it’s about becoming a one-stop shop, and we’re going to see that in the next few years,” Hay said.

The next step for the association, said current AGRP President Jim Hickey, is to expand its base beyond the K Street realm, where many of the association’s members currently roost. The group, which says that around 17 percent of its members live and work outside of the Washington Beltway, hopes to create a database of government relations professionals both nationally and internationally.

“I would like us to be able to go to other capitals around the world,” Hickey told the publication. “That needs to be created, and I want to be the association that does that.”

And while questions linger about whether the name change really was about getting away from the name, Hickey (who initiated the change prior to becoming the group’s president) remains steadfast.

“I know that there’s a perception outside the organization, ‘Oh that must be the driving force.’ It really wasn’t,” he emphasized. “We’ll never completely convince everybody of that, but there really were rational reasons why we went the way we did.”


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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