For lobbyists, “boutique” shops are loosening mega-firms grip on K Street

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The grip of mega-lobbying firms on K-Street may be starting to weaken.

As the larger firms struggle to retain revenue, some of the smaller lobbying shops are stealing clients and showing enormous returns, according to The Hill.

“At a small firm, you get to deeply engage in policy and politics while being an entrepreneur — and that combination is a heck of a lot of fun,” Hunter Bates told reporter Megan Wilson. Bates is a former staffer for Sen. Mitch McConnell and recently founded his own small “boutique” lobbying firm.

A desire for more control has led many lobbyists, Capitol Hill insiders and lawyers to leave the larger companies, effectively shaking up the K-Street hierarchy. Lower overhead and administrative costs also sweeten the deal.

Clients also like the individual, personal attention a smaller firm can provide; they are starting to avoid large firms, which many feel are too far removed from the halls of Congress.

This shift is coming at a time when the whole lobbying industry is in flux, with large firms trying to keep their market share by offering a larger array of services.  Public relations and grassroots campaign management have taken a larger role in the services large firms offer.

For lobbyists, the rewards of running their own businesses outweigh the risks of going out on their own.

“Big shops all struggle to give you a small-shop feel,” one anonymous lobbyist told The Hill. “You never know if the whole firm is committed to your interests. … You might just be another blip on their balance sheets.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.