PhRMA comes out on top in trade group rankings

PhRMA might be the most effective lobby group in Washington, according to a new survey released Wednesday.

Consulting giant APCO Worldwide asked more than 450 policy leaders about 50 major trade associations, trimmed down from a larger list of nominees that was submitted by participants.

Respondents in the survey generally agreed that the Pharmaceutical Research Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) — the lobby group for the drug industry — excels in key areas.

PhRMA garnered the most wins in the most categories, voted the best at lobbying, the most effective at having a local and federal presence and the group whose members most frequently “mobilize to contact policymakers.” Respondents in the survey said those were the most important characteristics for a trade association to possess.

APCO touted the study as the first of its kind, and said it provides a nuanced look at the many areas where lobby groups seek to succeed.

“This is the first study to ever tackle the question of association effectiveness with a formal, systematic and objective approach to pinpoint the specific characteristics that define public policy effectiveness among Washington, D.C., policy leaders,” said Bryan Dumont, president of APCO Insight, in a statement.

Respondents in the study ranked the trade groups in 15 different areas, including bipartisanship, self-regulation, media relations, social media presence and membership representation.

The nation’s largest business lobby, the Chamber of Commerce, ranked No. 1 at “coalition building” and holding events, while the Business Roundtable was named the best place to get information.

America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) was ranked the best at grassroots campaigning, while the U.S. Travel Association was seen as the leader in working with members from both parties, the media and at protecting the reputation of members.

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“While lobbying remains a critical function, our research shows that effective trade associations need to serve many other functions … in order to be seen as effective public policy advocates,” said Bill Dalbec, senior director at APCO Insight and the leader of the Washington study.

The National Mining Association was voted the best at representing both its corporate and state associations, while the Credit Union National Association was viewed at establishing a “high code of conduct” for its industry.

The National Beer Wholesalers Association was singled out for representing the voices and views of its members.

APCO said the study involved congressional chiefs of staff and legislative directors. Participants from the executive branch included directors of public affairs, directors of communications and assistant secretaries.

Senior members of law and lobby firms, nonprofits, think tanks and corporations were also part of the survey.

Political parties were equally represented, according to APCO.