WASHINGTON, D.C.—The American Teleservices Association, which represents telemarketers, has hired The MWW Group to provide public relations and lobbying support as it mounts a campaign against the National Do Not Call Registry. The registry allows consumers to add their telephone numbers to a national list that is off limits to telemarketers.
The Direct Marketing Association, which represents mail and e-mail marketers as well as some in the telemarketing sector, has taken a conciliatory approach toward the registry—which has overwhelming public support—but the ATS has suggested that the registry interferes with its First Amendment rights, and has filed a lawsuit against the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission over the legislation.
Tim Searcy, executive director of the group, which represents about 650 companies, says MWW is “helping us meet with key leaders in Washington,” says Searcy. The assignment marks the first time the ATA has employed a lobbying firm.
MWW’s public affairs practice leader Bob Sommer says the firm will focus on making an economic argument on the industry’s behalf.
“The industry recognizes that it has not successfully portrayed itself either to Congress or the public,” says Sommer. “We want to help redefine the industry. Our client is taking the long view. The association understands that perceptions will not be changed in a matter of months.
We’ll be focusing on the people who work for the teleservices industry and what is going to happen to them as a result of the National Do Not Call Registry. This is industry is one of the largest employers of the disabled, of single mothers who cannot leave their homes, and of other difficult-to-employ groups.”
The initial budget for the program is believed to be in the mid to high six figures.