Interest Groups & Advocacy

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 143–160 | Cite as

Inside out: interest groups’ ‘outside’ media work as a means to manage ‘inside’ lobbying efforts and relationships with politicians

  • N. Leila Trapp
  • Bo Laursen
Original Article


Recognizing the important role that media work can play for interest groups in securing their members’ interests, the purpose of this study is to more precisely explore the reasons why ‘insider’ interest groups that participate in valuable face-to-face lobbying with policy makers might supplement their lobbying efforts with media work despite the inherent risk of doing so. Through interviews with press contact staff at 52 Danish insider interest groups, we find that media work is conducted in order to (1) motivate policy makers to address particular issues in ways that are favorable to the organization, (2) manage the ongoing face-to-face lobbying process and (3) strengthen relationships to policy makers. While the first reason neatly reflects the well-known agenda-setting strategy in which raising public awareness on political issues is central, the remaining more surprising and underexplored reasons indicate a need to revise our assumptions about media work in politically motivated organizations. Our proposal is threefold: Because interest groups view political actors as key consumers of news stories, media work should no longer be conceptualized as an exclusively outside strategy; we should sharpen our appreciation of the importance of political finesse, in addition to media savvy, amongst press staff in politically driven organizations; and finally, as part of the ever-growing mediatization of politics, we should recognize that political processes that traditionally have taken place in face-to-face lobbying, such as relationship building, are now also taking place in the news media.


Mediatization Lobbying Media work News media Insider interest groups 


  1. Andrews, K.T., and N. Caren. 2010. Making the news: Movement organizations, media attention and the public agenda. American Sociological Review 7(6): 841–866.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baumgartner, F.R., et al. 1997. Media attention and congressional agendas. In Do the media govern? Politicians, voters and reporters in America, ed. S. Iyengar, and R. Reeves, 349–363. Thousands Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  3. Berry, J.M. 1999. The new liberalism: The rising power of citizen groups. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
  4. Beyers, J. 2004. Voice and access: Political practices of European interest associations. European Union Politics 5(2): 211–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Binderkrantz, A.S. 2005. Interest group strategies: Navigating between privileged access and strategies of pressure. Political Studies 53: 694–715.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Binderkrantz, A.S., and P.M. Christiansen. 2013. Making it to the news: Interest groups in the Danish media. In Politische Interessenvermittlung und Medien. Funktionen, Formen und Folgen medialer Kommunikation von Parteien, Verbänden und soczialen Bewegungen, ed. F. Oehmer. Baden-Baden: Nomos Publisher.Google Scholar
  7. Binderkrantz, A.S., and S. Krøyer. 2012. Customizing strategy: Policy goals and interest group strategies. Interest Groups & Advocacy 1(1): 115–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Castells, M. 2013. Communication power. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Coffey, A., and P. Atkinson. 1996. Making sense of qualitative data: Complimentary research strategies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  10. Cook, T.E. 1998. Governing with the news: The news media as a political institution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  11. Davis, A. 2000a. Public relations, news production and changing patterns of source access in the British national media. Media Culture Society 22(1): 39–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Davis, A. 2000b. Public relations campaigning and news production: The case of new unionism in Britain. In Media organizations in society, ed. J. Curran, 173–192. London: Arnold.Google Scholar
  13. Davis, A. 2007. Investigating journalist influences on political issue agendas at Westminster. Political Communication 24(2): 181–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. De Bruycker, I. 2014. Why interest groups say what they say. ECPR Salamanca.Google Scholar
  15. De Bruycker, I. 2016. Pressure and expertise: Explaining the information supply of interest groups in EU legislative lobbying. Journal of Common Market Studies 54(3): 599–616.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. De Bruycker, I., and J. Beyers. 2015. Balanced or bias? Interest groups and legislative lobbying in the European news media. Political Communication 32(3): 453–474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Duignan, B. 2013. Political parties, interest groups and elections. New York: Britannica Educational Publishing.Google Scholar
  18. Dür, A., and G. Mateo. 2013. Gaining access or going public? Interest group strategies in five European countries. European Journal of Political Research 52: 660–686.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Grant, W. 2000. Pressure groups and British politics. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  20. Grant, W. 2001. Pressure politics: From insider politics to direct action? Parliamentary Affairs 54: 337–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Grant, W. 2004. Pressure politics: The changing world of pressure groups. Parliamentary Affairs 57(2): 408–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Guest, G., et al. 2006. How many interviews are enough? An experiment with data saturation and variability. Field Methods 18(1): 59–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hjarvard, S. 2013. The mediatization of culture and society. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  24. Jacobs, R.N., and D.J. Glass. 2002. Media publicity and the voluntary sector: The case of nonprofit organizations in New York City. International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations 13(3): 235–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jordan, A.G., and J.J. Richardson. 1987. Government and pressure groups in Britain. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  26. Kollman, K. 1998. Outside lobbying: Public opinion and interest group strategies. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Kriesi, H., et al. 2007. Going public in the European Union: Action repertoires of Western European collective political actors. Comparative Political Studies 40(1): 48–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kumar, M.J. 2007. Managing the President’s message: The White House communications operation. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Larsen, O. 2006. En eksklusiv politisk dagsorden. In Politisk journalistik og kommunikation: forandringer i samspillet mellem politik og medier, ed. P.F. Bro, R. Jønsson, and O.F. Larsen. Frederiksberg: Samfundslitteratur.Google Scholar
  30. Mahoney, C. 2007. Lobbying success in the United States and the European Union. Journal of Public Policy 27(1): 35–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Manning, P. 2001. News and news sources: A critical introduction. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  32. McCombs, M. 2004. Setting the agenda: The mass media and public opinion. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  33. McCombs, M. 2005. A look at agenda-setting: Past, present and future. Journalism Studies 6(4): 543–557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Miller, D., and K. Williams. 1998. Sourcing AIDS news. In The circuit of communication, ed. D. Miller, J. Kitzinger, K. Williams, and P. Beharrell. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  35. Negrine, R., and D.G. Lilleker. 2002. The professionalization of political communication: Continuities and change in media practices. European Journal of Communication 17(3): 305–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Page, E.C. 1999. The insider/outsider distinction: An empirical investigation. British Journal of Politics and International Relations 1(2): 205–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rosenbaum, D. E. 2003. House GOP tax cuts outdo Bush tax plan in favoring wealthy. New York Times, A13.Google Scholar
  38. Soroka, S.N. 2002. Issue attributes and agenda-setting by media, the public, and policymakers in Canada. International Journal of Public Opinion Research 14: 264–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Strauss, A., and J. Corbin. 1998. Basics of qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  40. Strömbäck, J. 2008. Four phases of mediatization: An analysis of the mediatization of politics. The International Journal of Press/Politics 13: 228–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Strömbäck, J., and F. Esser. 2014. Introduction. Making sense of the mediatization of politics. Journalism Practice 8(3): 245–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Strömbäck, J., and P. Van Aelst. 2013. Why political parties adapt to the media: Exploring the fourth dimension of mediatization. International Communication Gazette 75(4): 341–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Trevor Thrall, A. 2006. The myth of the outside strategy: Mass media news coverage of interest groups. Political Communication 23(4): 407–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Walgrave, S., and K. De Swert. 2004. The making of the (issues of the) Vlaams Blok. The media and the success of the Belgian extreme-right party. Political Communication 21: 479–500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Walgrave, S., and P. Van Aelst. 2006. The contingency of the mass media’s political agenda setting power: Toward a preliminary theory. Journal of Communication 56: 88–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Communication and CultureAarhus UniversityAarhus CDenmark
  2. 2.Department of ManagementAarhus UniversityAarhus CDenmark

Personalised recommendations