Who’s That Guy in the Lobby?

This is one of our occasional articles intended to educate our readers about the many aspects of AFMC’s activities.

If you were to ask us what sort of entity the Arizona Film & Media Coalition is, we’d say that the AFMC is a lobbying organization focused on job creation and the revitalization of the entertainment industry in Arizona. However, our actual lobbying efforts are quite limited and, in fact, we rely heavily on others to lobby for us. Here’s why:

What exactly is lobbying?

Lobbying is the act of exerting influence over legislators. In theory, anyone can be a lobbyist. Last time I checked, any person can walk up to any legislator and express their opinion about…well…anything. Ideally, it would be something that both individuals are willing to discuss. Present a compelling argument and you might successfully influence this legislator. Congratulations on your lobbying effort!

Is AFMC a lobbyist?

Yes, to the extent that we are able to discuss with, debate with and influence State legislators, with respect to the film and digital media industry; and to the extent that we participate in the drafting and revising of legislative bills that concern that same industry. However, our main function is to formulate group consensus among the members of our board who are, in turn, members of industry organizations. (See diagram here.) Having achieved consensus, we then present our unified view to a professional lobbyist.

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Why does AFMC need a professional lobbyist?

AFMC has launched a GoFundMe campaign (– see webpage here –) to raise the funds needed to engage the services of a professional lobbyist. The reason is that professional lobbyists are afforded much better access to legislators than individual businesses, or industries, or even the general public. The reason for this is that professional lobbyists typically represent large sectors of businesses or of the legislators’ constituencies. Therefore, much more can get accomplished at the State Legislature if a lobbyist pools the needs of multiple entities and presents them to the legislators as a cohesive package.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of hiring a professional lobbyist?

Some advantages include these:

Professional lobbyists are more familiar with practices, protocols and schedules of the Legislature; they are versed in how laws are created and, therefore, how and when to approach legislators about creating and supporting new bills; they can pool the interests of multiple entities to present stronger and more unified arguments; and they can work at the effort full-time, as that is what they do for a living.

As to disadvantage, when interests are pooled, it usually requires compromise among participants, with the more vested partners more likely to get what they want. This gives large corporations the distinct advantage, both at the State level and at the Federal level, sometimes to the detriment of others. But by aligning with strong partners under highly competent professional lobbyists, even the most minor participants have a better chance of being heard and of exerting influence, than if they were to attempt to go it alone.

In 2019, the Arizona Film & Media Coalition will engage with a professional lobbyist to develop and support State legislation that will help to create jobs and restore the vitality of the Arizona film and digital media industry. Some of our members have been in place since the inception of AFMC, over a decade ago. We remain an all-volunteer 501(c)(6)* organization. Our current fundraising efforts will enable us to invest in the professional resources we need to level the playing field at the Arizona Legislature. We look forward to delivering news of positive changes for our industry. Thanks to all who have been able to help us!

*Note: A 501(c)(6) differs from a 501(c)(3) in that the former can be an organization that engages in political and/or lobbying activities. Donations to a 501(c)(6) are not tax-deductible.