FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 5, 2021
Communications and Marketing Manager
Public Affairs Council
New Poll: Government Affairs Execs Say Lobbying Via Zoom is Here to Stay
Ninety-six percent believe pandemic will dominate policymaking through 2021
Washington, D.C. – Video conferencing won’t be going away once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, says a new Public Affairs Council poll. In fact, the study finds that 87% of government affairs executives say it will become increasingly common to use video conferencing for lobbying. And a plurality (46%) claim that video calls can sometimes be more effective than face-to-face meetings.
The survey of 157 government affairs executives, conducted in April 2021, provides an update on a similar survey the Council conducted in May 2020 shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic became a serious global health threat.
In-Person Meetings with Federal Policymakers Will Become More Rare
- Sixty percent (60%) believe that, even after the pandemic is over, it will remain difficult to meet with federal policymakers in person. In last year’s survey, 71% were pessimistic of their chances of getting face time soon with policymakers.
- Only 35% of government affairs executives believe it will remain difficult to meet with state elected officials face-to-face, which is down substantially from last May when 54% expected to be communicating on a video platform for the foreseeable future.
- Sixty-five percent (65%) of executives polled say it has been easier to reach elected officials by phone or video conferencing during the pandemic than they expected.
- Government affairs professionals have adapted to remote work. Eighty-three percent (83%) believe their staffs are already proficient with Zoom, Teams and other platforms, and 66% say their staffs can do their entire jobs well while working remotely.
“Advocates of all types adapted quickly to the restrictions put in place because of COVID-19,” said Public Affairs Council President Doug Pinkham, noting that video calls are only one of several key strategies available for engaging elected officials in the absence of in-person meetings. “Since last year’s survey, we’ve seen a rise in the use of digital advocacy tools such as online grassroots campaigns, virtual fly-ins and social media advertising. These are long-term changes that won’t recede when congressional offices open their doors again.”
Digital Advocacy is Rising, but is Traditional Lobbying Waning?
- The percentage of government affairs executives who believe the pandemic will bring about a decline in traditional lobbying and an increase in digital advocacy declined from 61% in 2020 to 54% in 2021.
- However, only 27% say there won’t be a rise in the use of digital advocacy tools and a decline in traditional lobbying methods.
Other Notable Findings
- Government affairs executives give President Biden high marks on handling the pandemic. While 60% agree he was well-prepared to effectively manage the nation’s response to the pandemic, only 15% disagree.
- Nearly all (96%) of government affairs executives surveyed believe the pandemic and its impact will dominate policymaking at both the federal and state levels through 2021.
- Nearly two-thirds (64%) of responding organizations have taken a direct role in supporting public health initiatives.
- The most popular programs include educating the public (46%), distributing PPE (40%), providing COVID-19 testing services/facilities (26%), supporting vaccinations through employee incentives (22%) and providing services and/or facilities for vaccinations (21%).
About the Public Affairs Council
Both nonpartisan and nonpolitical, the Public Affairs Council is the leading association for public affairs professionals worldwide. The Council’s mission is to advance the field of public affairs and to provide its 700 member companies, nonprofits and universities with the executive education and expertise they need to succeed while maintaining the highest ethical standards. Learn more about the Council at pac.org.