Transparency Register makes lobbying public?

At SuomiAreena on June 27th, a discussion on responsible lobbying was held with Tuomo Yli-Huttula from Finance Finland, the Greens MP Fatim Diarra, and Alpo Räinä from Mailand. The event was organized by Marketing Finland communication agencies and ProCom.

The annual political discussion event SuomiAreena focused on lobbying and the Finnish Rransparency Register on June 27. The panel was organized by communication agencies and ProCom association. I participated in a panel titled ” Millaista on vastuullinen lobbaus (What is accountable lobbying)?”

The issue is important, because the Transparency Register Act obliges to announce lobbying and influence activities aimed at the Finnish Parliament and ministries. The obligation applies to corporate public relations bodies and communication agencies, but not for example to public organisations.

The panel was also a kick-off for the cooperation between communication agencies and ProCom, with which we promote the appreciation of communication skills.

Publicity is not the same as transparency

In three panel discussions, communication professionals, researchers and politicians discussed the impact of the Transparency Register, the ways of good lobbying and the relationship of lobbying to decision-making.

The definition of transparency in public debate is worth considering. Many people state that Transparency Register makes lobbying public. The claim is easy to make, but impossible to justify. Yes, publicity will increase, but only partially as long as the law only applies to a small part of the operators.

Accountability and ethics are loaded words

How do you define accountable lobbying? Personally I must analyse it from several points of view. First of all – accountability to whom? To the customer, to the people we lobby, to yourself, or to your country? Self-evidently, to all of these.

I like to make another assessment based on the goal of influence. It is different to talk about ethics if you want to influence, for example, legislation, or achieve state support for e.g. an export project, improve business conditions, promote the use of a product or service in public organisations, stop a harmful preparation of a law or expose public wrong-doing.

Ethics is an even more loaded word and must be used very sensitively. Ethics is a question of values ​​and not just a way of acting. In influencing and lobbying, the goal and methods of operation must be legally and morally correct and in line with the society’s values.

Mailand does projects that are good for Finland

Mailand’s influencing and lobbying projects are done with current customers, as an extension of their PR and communication. They are projects that aim to strengthen employment, improve social conditions or gain visibility for generally important topics. We have been used to determine that the projects we do must be good for Finland.

Influencing and lobbying are legal and normal activities. All kinds of organisations do it, and some of them use a little help from communication agencies or consultants. The Finnish society that values ​​the truth becomes stronger, when politicians, civil servants and the media receive versatile information for their perspectives and decisions.