Unorthodox Lobbying: Changing the narrative for Guns

Movie: Miss Sloane

Genre: Political satire

Year of Release: 2016

Director: John Madden

Timing:132 minutes

Reviewer: Olutayo Irantiola

“Lobbying is about foresight, about anticipating your opponent’s moves and devising countermeasures. The winner plots one step ahead of the opposition, and plays her trump card just after they play theirs”- Miss Sloane.

In every society, there are various forces to contend with, it now behooves the people involved to choose what they stand for and decide on the various steps to take in retaining their relevance. The protagonist in the flick, Elizabeth Sloane is described as the conviction lobbyist. For her, “a conviction lobbyist can’t only believe in her ability to win.”

She worked for Cole Kravitz as a Consultant in taxation and federal government interference but the reputation she has garnered for herself made a client look for a way of engaging her. However, she moved to Peterson Wyatt in order to lead the Brady campaign, that she would love to win at all cost, as the Lead Consultant.  Sloane was a renowned Consultant whose work stood her out and she got more deals.

The cabals were interested in winning the challenge about the bipartisan gun bill at all cost. As the work was about to commence, she was given a verbal brief, the richest group on the hill desire to change the narrative from “mothers losing their kids to guns, to mothers protecting their kids with guns, from a battered wife threatened by a bullet, to fending off her violent husband with a .38 gun”. As much as they believe, guns are tools of female empowerment. In their own assessment, “God created human, Samuel Colt made them equal.” Briefs do not necessarily need to be total by correspondence, verbal brief is still a valid brief.

The modus operandi of the group were to form a new organization that has association with the political rights, no link to them, no overt position on guns. They will build it up but Miss Sloane will drive the agenda and pay up the legislatures working on the second amendment. They saw no ethical problem in reframing an issue, however they are largely concerned with getting more numbers of female voters. Be clear about the objectives and how to measure the success of a campaign from the onset of the project.

In the course of the movie, she was being interrogated and she assumed it was a journalist from the Post publication. She was questioned on her reason for rejecting the offer of the “word on the Hill” cabal and her refusal to accept the gun lobby. She faked ignorance. The guy wasn’t from The Post publication but from a boutique Lobbyist company, Peterson Wyatt, a boutique partisan Government Affairs Agency. As a PR Consultant, be careful in divulging classified information for you do not know if the person interrogating you is trying to trap you.

In a brainstorming session, she mentioned three strategies to win more support for their campaign. These included building their own group of supporters to vote against guns, get voters into the booth, engaging influential senators who can deliver colleagues vote and to identify who holds sway in target group such as workers group, those they trust and will not want to piss off, this will definitely bring in some votes as well. A PR Consultant is not expected to throw communication to the wind, he is supposed to be strategic.

There was copious use of testimonials in the movie. These testimonials were done before various audiences. Esme testified of her experience to the media and this led her team to gaining public sympathy. Although this almost led to her assassination. This tactic can never be overused to sway public opinion about a product or a cause.

The media thrives on how topical issues, the cabal decided to trail Miss Sloane and get her career destroyed. They sent a gunman after Esme, she was rescued by a civilian who equally used the gun. Frank McGill became the man of the moment. This depicts that PR needs to be continuous as the society is currently overwhelmed with the volume of news and you are as good as the last time you were showcased via the media.

The desire to win made Miss Sloane to get involved in the unlawful use of various technological monitoring tools for bugging people and their actions, this was to ensure that she put the best foot forward while retaining her lead in the winning game. The tactics of Espionage (unlawful surveillance) is not allowed but it shows that she was thinking out of the regular box to ensure that she delivered and this is the what would set any agency apart.

There was a little mudslinging at the Political class in the movie. As far as Miss Sloane was concerned, “a senator’s priority isn’t representing the people, it’s keeping his ass in office.” Unfortunately, the Senate was now used to fight her. A congressional hearing into her unorthodox lobbying practice. Then, they started digging out her secrets. This secret essentially was her role with a particular client while she worked at the former agency.

A Senator who has been against lobbyist will lead the campaign against her, as he also has negative financial scandals too and it will not be affiliated to guns. They did everything to get her on a Senate hearing. The hearing was about a trip which the agency considered an educational trip to Indonesia while it was being treated like an inducement for Senator Jacob’s trip. The Senate ethic rules forbid lobbyist from arranging overseas travels for members of congress. The implication of this implied that a PR Consultant must be careful of carrying out unethical projects most especially when it is against the laws of the land as it could fight back.

Miss Sloane is another pedagogic piece that can open the mind of a PR Consultant to the possibilities of going the extra mile to delight the client. As it is with every career, Lobbying, Public Relations Consultant, Government Affairs, and other nomenclatures used for different areas of Public Relations Practices.

Enjoy the thriller-

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