WASHINGTON, DC: PR firm Strat@comm has forged a strategic alliance with several Capitol Hill lobbyists.
According to Strat@comm principal Steve Hellem, one motivating factor in the formation of the alliance, dubbed Lobbying Coalition Group (LCG), is the presence of 535 independent operators on Capitol Hill. This dictates the forging of coalitions that cut across ideological and party boundaries.
'It's a matter of 'how do you get the magic in the middle?'' he said.
The firm's initial target areas include aviation, alcohol and environmental issues. Lobbyists recruited to be part of the LCG team include Jack Flynn (Flynn & Associates), Ken Thompson (Thompson and Naughton) and Joan LaRock (LaRock Associates).
A former congressional lobbyist and political director for the International Union of Operating Engineers, Flynn also served as the deputy industrial commissioner for New York State. His lobbying firm represents the Communications Workers of America and the Climate Change Coalition.
Thompson had previously handled government affairs for the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America and for Primark Corporation. His company specializes in handling regulatory and legislative issues for corporations and trade associations.
LaRock previously worked at the Environmental Protection Agency and as a congressional fellow for Sen. John Breaux. She formed her own company in 1993 and lists the American Plastics Council and Kraft Foods among her current clients.
Strat@comm senior counselor John Flatley will also work with the LCG.
Once a legislative aide to the now-departed Rep. Steve Gunderson, specializing on environmental and tax issues, Flatley later served as assistant director of federal government relations for the Distilled Spirits Council. At Strat@comm, he has overseen legislative affairs for the American Ceramics Society.
Hellem emphasized that the LCG will offer a coordinated package that effectively blends lobbying and public relations. He explained many coalitions are loose-knit, which can inhibit effective coordination of the strategy and message delivery.
'There is a real challenge between how a lobbying firm does its work and how a PR firm does its work,' Hellem said. 'If those elements are not working together, it makes it very difficult to win.'