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‘Influencers’ poll gives grades to lobby groups

The healthcare industry might be the most powerful lobbying force in all of Washington, according to a new survey of Washington “influencers” released Wednesday. 

The consulting firm APCO Worldwide interviewed 301 people from the public and private sectors, including lobbyists and top aides on Capitol Hill, to find out which trade groups are the most effective at the pressure game. 

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Of the 50 associations evaluated by participants, PhRMA came out on top of seven of the 15 categories — including lobbying, coalition building, social media, having a unified voice and a “multilateral impact,” and possessing the ability to work within the legislative, executive and regulatory arenas. 

It’s the second “influencers” study the firm has done, and also the second time that PhRMA has dominated the poll. 

Bill Dalbec, the deputy managing director of APCO Insight, said the criteria for evaluating trade group have changed since 2013, which was the last time the firm completed the TradeMarks study. 

“Having a unified voice as an industry and having a positive perception in the media are now considered more important to a trade association’s effectiveness than lobbying or member mobilization,” he said in a statement. “It’s an interesting shift that’s reflective of how people are perceiving brands differently today than in the past.”

Overall, the financial services industry ranked No. 1 out of the eight sectors listed as part of the survey, a large increase for the industry from 2013.

The Business Roundtable, a group that represents corporate chief executives, received the highest marks for gaining a positive media attention for its issues and members. The Credit Union National Association earned points for being able to work well with both Republicans and Democrats.

The American Hospital Association scored well in representing its members, being an information source and sponsoring events and conferences to educate its members.

On a local level, the National Association of Realtors was seen as among the most powerful. Meanwhile, the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) was judged as among the best at mobilizing a grassroots forces to influence policy.

Participants in the survey included senior aides on Capitol Hill — including chiefs of staff and committee staff directors — and officials in the Executive Branch. Half of the people surveyed held top roles at lobbying and public affairs firms, corporate government relations offices and think tanks. 

Individuals chose five industry groups to rate, and in order to do so, they had to be familiar with its work. Overall, eight industries were ranked: financial services, healthcare, retail and general business, food and beverages, technology, energy and extraction, travel and tourism, and manufacturing.

The manufacturing and energy sectors each garnered some of the worst scores on certain categories, including the ability to have a multilateral impact, bipartisanship, having a unified voice and protecting the reputation of the industry.