For the second year in a row, Washington Insiders say that they anticipate more rapid growth in spending on “public affairs”—defined as digital, grassroots/grass tops and public/media relations— than on “government relations”—direct lobbying, advocacy advertising, and political contributions, according to the second annual Washington Insider survey by Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications.

“There is an increased demand for integrated public affairs programs that incorporate traditional government relations along with public relations, grassroots and digital components,” says Larry Rasky, chairman and CEO of Rasky Baerlein.

Among the key findings:

  • Washington insiders anticipate greater growth in spending on digital tools and public/media relations than traditional government relations in 2017. In fact, more than 40% of Washington insiders will divert their public affairs spending away from traditional non digital activities to fund digital advocacy areas.
  • Increased use of social media, digital/technology capabilities, and grassroots efforts are the three most often mentioned trends anticipated over the next five years. 
  • Traditional government relations continues to be seen as the most cost-effective way to impact public policymaking at the federal level, though down by 11%age points (85% to 74%) while advocacy advertising is expected to increase in importance by 8%age points over last year.
  • Forty% of Washington Insiders believe that 2017 will likely see Congressional action on infrastructure legislation, 22% on Merrick Garland’s nomination and only 8% expect action on tax reform.