A lobbyist is a public relations specialist with strong communication skills who persuades legislators to vote on public policy in favor of their clients' interests. Generally, a lobbyist is employed by a public relations firm, trade organization, union or public interest group.
The successful lobbyist candidate should have previous public relations experience and a network of contacts with policymakers and other members of public office. Job responsibilities include being able to have a deep understanding of the clients' interests in active legislation, strong communication skills to reinforce clients' position on the issues at hand, possess a working knowledge of other interest groups holding a similar position as the clients', prepare press releases, informational literature and at times represent the client at news conferences and in other forms of media. Other responsibilities include scheduling and facilitating meetings with legislators on behalf of the client, responding to regulatory inquiries and testifying at public hearings. Generally, a lobbyist is required to register his lobbying activities with government agencies and report his expenditures to stay within compliance guidelines.
Lobbyist opportunities lie primarily in the largest U.S. cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C., although some smaller market businesses and other organizations have been known to seek public relations specialists. Service providing industries that seek lobbyists to help move their agendas forward are primarily in the advertising, health care, social services, education and government areas. Most employment is gained through financial institutions, communications firms and government agencies.
A lobbyist should possess strong communication and analytical skills, be aware of current news events and legislative activities and maintain a highly organized work environment. The ability to be persuasive and at times aggressive is essential as is the ability to build and maintain strong relationships. The successful candidate should also be able to manage high levels of stress and meet critical deadlines. Creativity, having good judgment and taking initiative are also important.
There are no educational requirements, however many lobbyists have a college education and a bachelor's degree in political science or communications.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average lobbyist working in the United States earns an annual base salary of $47,350. The industry is expected to see an increase in its work force by 18 percent by 2016.