Greg Hoffman



The Tarpon Agency Marketing Column

Boating Industry
Wednesday November 13, 2002

The political season may be over but the legislative season is about to begin. In many states, incumbents have been knocked out by newcomers and political parties have taken over like never before.

Look at Georgia, for example. They have the first Republican Governor since Reconstruction. They lost their Senior U.S. Senator to a Republican. The State Senate Majority Leader was ousted and the Speaker of the House lost for the first time in 42 years.

Do you know who your state and federal elected officials are now? Do you know how they stand on issues that will affect your business and the marine industry as a whole?

Since many companies are working on marketing plans for 2003 this month, don’t forget to include time and/or budget for government relations, no matter how small your company is.

Civic duty

It’s a civic duty to vote but it’s also a duty, not only personally but professionally, to monitor your elected officials. It’s a truly easy process and it mostly only takes time and patience as you are not the only one who would like to meet them.

This is the time to get to know your state and federal legislators. For the next few months, civic organizations, such as the Kiwanis or your local chamber of commerce, will host legislative breakfasts, lunches, dinners and forums so members can meet politicians. This is your chance to meet your elected officials and find out where they fit in the political landscape.

If you live in a landlocked state, you still have lakes and rivers where recreational boating is regulated. So, it never hurts to inform the politicians about your existence. If and when that state or federal bill comes to a vote, they might call upon you to educate them on the issue. Sure, they’ll certainly contact the lobbyists of interest but if they know there is a marine manufacturer or service provider in their home district that would be affected by this legislation, you become a hero.

Your publicist will have instant credibility ammunition to inform your business world and customers that you testified before a legislative body as an expert witness.

Industry lobbyists

The National Marine Manufacturers Association has a dedicated Government Relations Department, which provides legislative and regulatory monitoring, analysis and policy review services to members and others in the industry. NMMA works in conjunction with the Marina Operators Association of America and the Personal Watercraft Industry Association.

Based in Washington, D.C., they are the ones that have the pulse of Congress and work at it everyday. Through professional lobbyists in key states and a legislative monitoring service, NMMA’s Government Relations Department also tracks local issues on behalf of the industry.

To find out more about the legislative issues in the marine industry, go to, click on Gov’t Relations, then type in your zip code under MAKING WAVES in the bottom left hand column. From there, you can see who represents you in Congress, follow important issues and legislation, and learn how to “make waves” by becoming active in the process.

It’s time for companies to start using ALL the tools available to help publicize their companies and products. Knowing your elected officials, being aware of the government imposed regulations that affect your business and doing something about it, is a step in the right direction.

Greg Hoffman
The Tarpon Agency


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