Increased demand for government relations support: How the lobbying industry is changing

March 14, 2017 Bloomberg Government

Lobbying is big business in Washington. Until a few years ago, however, there was no way to assess or compare the performances of D.C.’s many lobbying firms. Bloomberg Government set out to change that in 2014 by adapting and applying traditional business metrics, such as customer satisfaction and revenue growth. See the list and download the full report→

Cypress Advocacy LLC was one of the firms on the list of top-performing lobbying firms. We spoke with Bridget Hagan, a partner at the firm. She shared ways in which the lobbying industry is changing, big ticket items that are likely to get done on Capitol Hill this year, and keys to the firm’s success.

What does Donald Trump’s victory mean for your firm and the lobbying industry generally? 

President Trump’s victory has driven home the point that it’s more important than ever to not only maintain strong relationships across government, but also to have a deep working knowledge of the mechanics of government and the opportunities and constraints it provides for business.

We are seeing an increased demand for government relations support in general across all industries given the changes in Washington and the opportunity for tangible action by the new Congress and Administration. We are also fortunate to be seeing many of our former colleagues and friends, as well as Cypress team members and alumni, considered for top posts within the Trump Administration.

In terms of specific issues, Cypress’ financial services and tax expertise will continue to serve us well in this new climate, and we continue to build our energy practice and expertise in other issue areas  that will even better serve our existing clients and help to develop new business relationships that enhance our value add on both ends of the government relations’ spectrum.

What big ticket items do you think are likely to get done in Congress this year?

All in all it looks to be a very busy year. We see a real commitment from Congress and the Administration to the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, as well as tax reform. The House Financial Services and Senate Banking Committees are also gearing up to pass flood insurance reauthorization right out of the gate, and expect at least House action on Chair Hensarling’s Financial CHOICE Act. Both chambers will generally be active in financial deregulatory efforts, which may result in the passage of some standalone efforts as well. We also expect those two Committees to begin efforts related to comprehensive housing finance reform later this year, and possibly incremental reforms, though we expect substantive legislative action there is more likely to wait until 2018.

What factors led to your success in 2016?

Cypress capitalized on the momentum from several recent legislative wins, including legislation aimed at refining the Collins amendment, which was the first major bipartisan reform to Dodd-Frank, and in leading a creditor coalition that helped successfully pass PROMESA –  the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act – by wide bipartisan margins in both chambers.

Being able to point to these achievements, in a time when Congress remained deadlocked on most issues, was significant for us. We attribute this success to our dedication to working in a bipartisan way with Congress and the regulatory agencies. We also attribute our success to our clients, who are some of the most respected companies and organizations in the world.  Additionally, our keen understanding of the broader stakeholder landscape in Washington allows us to effectively build coalitions among our clients and influential third parties to achieve their policy objectives.

In addition to our commitment to building strong coalitions, our clients point to our substantive issue knowledge as key to their success. Our advocacy relies on our very strong network of relationships in the legislative and executive branches built over decades of policy work. However, in addition to shoe-leather lobbying, Cypress invests heavily in research and applies our deep expertise on client issues to our advocacy work. Our perspectives are informed by our advisory business, which helps us understand the capital markets impacts of policy changes, and by our corporate strategy work, which keeps us focused on the tangible impact of government relations on corporate business objectives.

Any advice for other firms looking to grow their business?

We are strong believers that the satisfaction of our existing clients, most of whom have been with us for five years or longer, will naturally open doors to new client recommendations and is the central tenet of our business development strategy. We also see a growing demand among our clients to provide more rigor in how they are managing their government relations, and to help successfully deploy government relations in support of broader corporate strategic goals.

What challenges did your organization face in growing your business?

Our biggest recent challenge has been matching our internal capacity with our external growth and increasing client demand on a variety of issues. Over the past year, we made several additions to our staff to accommodate our growing business, including the addition of Langston Emerson as managing director.

Cypress continues to invest in firm leadership to accommodate this growing demand and expand our staff expertise on a number of new and existing issues for our clients that have surfaced following President Trump’s election, such as healthcare, immigration, energy and environmental policy.

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