Magazine article Information Today

NAMNET: Lobbying Goes Online

Magazine article Information Today

NAMNET: Lobbying Goes Online

Article excerpt

NAMNET: Lobbying Goes Online

"Knowledge is Power" it is said, but the matter is not quite that simple. The equation needs a conversion factor that puts the right information in the right hands at the right time. Otherwise, knowledge is mere data, resting uselessly between book covers or in magnetic storage devices. But with the right kind of distribution system, the equation can be solved and knowledge can indeed be converted into power--in the case of NAMNET, the power to make or break legislation and even influence the nation's economic direction.

NAMNET is the online information and communications network of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), a trade association representing manufacturers before federal and state government. With over 13,000 members and an eight-figure budget, NAM is one of the nation's most effective lobbying organization. It wields much of its clout in the form of information, first by notifying its members what is going on in Washington, and then making their voices heard on Capitol Hill and wherever a government employee is deliberating a decision that effects manufacturing. NAMNET refines NAM's clout from a blunt object into a precise electronic instrument that transforms knowledge into power and influence.

Turning Data Into Information

One of NAM's primary purposes is to translate Washington's complex flurry of activity into a concise package for busy manufacturing company executives. Its most impressive creation is NAMTRAK, NAMET's legislative information system. NAMTRAK closely monitors several dozen bills that affect manufacturers from inception to final vote. Each bill's status, sponsorship, content, significance, and background is covered in short by clearly written and informative reports. The facts alone, however, are not enough, since NAM's purpose is not just to inform but also to persuade. Each bill report is accompanied by a set of Lobbying Points, which include a NAM position paper and a review of pro and con arguments. The Lobbying Points ably equip NAM members when they are doing a little congressional arm twisting. NAMTRAK is an example of NAMNET's results-oriented knowledge at its best.

NAMNET also succinctly synthesizes ponderous business and economic policy debates in its "Issues Outlook" and "Public Policy Research" departments. Issues Outlook concisely summarizes complex controversies, like campaign finance reform, leveraged buyouts, and plant closing laws, that reverberate through Congress, boardrooms, and the media. Public Policy Research does the same service for that mysterious but seemingly influential type of publication, the think tank report. The principal conclusions of studies issued by oft-quoted policy research organizations like that CATO Institute and the Heritage Foundation are described in NAMNET's typically compact style.

NAMNET covers current news as well as evolving policy debates. A daily news service reports on major political and legislative stories from Capitol Hill and the Executive branch. Recent major legislative developments are wrapped up in the "Weekly Legislative Review." NAMNET's most urgent news, however, occurs in the Legislative Alerts, which are online fire alarms for NAM members. Recognizing that clamor from constituents rivals campaign contributions when it comes to swaying Senators and Representatives, NAMNET highlights upcoming important votes affecting NAM interests in the Alerts. …

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