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How the ESA's preemptive lobbying strategy works

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Lobbying should start before there's a problem, and the Entertainment Software Association, the video game industry's public affairs organization, is adept at this strategy, National Music Publishers' Association SVP of government affairs Christopher Cylke told GamesIndustry International.

Lobbying, the attempt by organizations or individuals to influence political issues, can be both reactive and proactive, and Cylke said that the ESA excels at the latter.

"Good, effective lobbying in my view starts way before you have a problem, and I tip my hat to the folks at the ESA," Cylke said. "I've worked very closely with them on a lot of different issues, and they have a tough job ahead of them. But those in the movie industry and other industries come under fire, either rightly or wrongly, when situations crop up. If you've done your homework, if you've gone in and introduced yourself to relevant members of congress who will be making decisions and looking at your industry, and you've explained to them exactly why your industry is important to the US, to the economy, to them specifically, and answered some of the questions you think may come up preemptively, you have a much better chance of success."

Based on information available at OopenSecrets.org, which tracks political donations, the ESA contributed $509,690 to various candidates, Political Action Committees and other committees and spent $4.8 million on lobbying in 2012. By contrast, the National Rifle Association spent $1.5 million on political contributions and $2.9 on lobbying during the same period, though the NRA outpaces the ESA in outside spending.

During a "fireside hangout" in late January in the wake of the shootings in Newtown, Conn., and shortly after President Barack Obama called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct research on the relationship between media images and violence, Vice President Joe Biden criticized segments of the "interest group population" who might oppose the research for being "afraid of facts."