"There are two things you should not watch being made," Washington lobbyist Leonard Simon observed for the benefit of George Washington University alumni last week, "sausage and law."
But Leonard, a lobbyist for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, was actually there to offer a preview of a university program designed to professionalize a Washington business as old as government itself: lobbying.
In spite of Reagan administration budget cutbacks and a recession, lobbying will continue to be a uniquely Washington growth industry in the 1980s, according to observers in the loosely-knit field. And George Washington University is hoping to turn out its first graduates this summer from its Washington Representative Program, designed to train students to enter lobbying as a profession.
With the Washington Representative Program as a non-credit course for potential government representatives, and business seminars on the lobbying trade, G.W.'s continuing education department is seeking to turn the downtown university into a major educational center for the lobbying industry.
"We are finding a great demand for this area," noted Lavona Gray, director of the lobbyist education program. "There is no formal training for one to become a lobbyist," she said.
"There are more and more trade and special interest associations coming to the Washington area," Gray observed. "Everyone of those associations are coming here because of the vicinity, to present their own case."
Estimates of the number of individuals engaged in Washington lobbying activities range from 7,000 persons listed in a lobbyist direc-tory to some lobbyists' estimates of 20,000 persons representing various businesses and causes, said Bill Bonsib, president of the American League of Lobbyists. About 5,500 lobbyists are formerly registered with the clerk of the House of Representatives.
Their economic impact is far greater than their considerable numbers, Bonsib said. "Most lobbyists represent a company, rather than themselves," he said. "It's a very important part of government."
The lobbying association head predicted additional growth in the government persuasion field. "The day will come when every business will be represented one way or another," he said. "They almost have to be."
Richard S. Lykes, a government relations representative for the Machinery and Allied Products Institute, came to hear the lobbying program preview at G.W., his alma mater. Even in an economic downturn, Lykes also believes the lobbying industry will continue to grow in Washington.
"As economics become more important," he said, "lobbying becomes more important." His trade group utilizes the same economic strategies employed by major corporations in planning its assault on the legislative arena.
"We have statistical economists" on the institute payroll, he said. "They make projections and reports on trends." Such enonomic statistics, Lykes said, helped prove a crucial argument for renewing Export-Import Bank loan guarantees.
And Simon used boardroom terms in describing which issues the mayors' lobby chooses to push. The lobbyists "sit around a conference table," he said, "and try to hammer out a bottom line consensus" on the profitability of rallying around a particular cause.
He gave the alumni audience a preview of his spring course, "Who Lobbies and How," one of 10 courses that make up the core of the Washington Representative program.
He also included a strong caveat about coalition-building for lobbyists. "You trust your mother," he commented, "but you always cut the cards."
A political action fund can also be a useful tool, Simon conceded, though lobbies such as the mayor's conference cannot offer contributions. "Campaign contributions must account for some influence in modern politics."
Often elaborate computer marketing techniques are used to arouse support for an issue in the modern lobbying world, Simon said. Yet, he pointed out, the most effective lobbying tactic is one that has been around since the founding of the republic: personal contact.
"For all the sophistication in modern lobbying techniques--the direct mail, the computer systems, and the like," Simon said, "there is no substitute for the legwork of a personal visit."
He also offered a short course in public relations. "The press is not the lobbyist's press agent. Any lobbyist asking for that is asking for trouble," Simon warned.
"The press can be convenient for elevating an issue," he said. In a battle to push public access cable television regulations, Simon said, stories in major newspaper business sections and on covers of Newsweek and Time were an invaluable help. "I always like to be the wounded party," he remarked.
One reason for professional lobbying programs such as the G.W. effort is to help improve the long-suspect image of lobbyists. "When most people think of lobbyists, they see something out of a Herblock cartoon caricature with striped pants on a body shaped like an ABM missile," he said. Simon, a trim 1974 graduate, wore a light blue pinstriped suit, button down shirt, and Paisley tie for his talk on lobbying habits.
Judging by the feedback by the American League of Lobbyists, Simon's course and the rest of the Washington Representative Program will be a popular educational effort. "We've been plagued with requests on how to do it," declared Bonsib of the lobbyists' association.
"There are all kinds of people who want to get into lobbying," he said, citing the need for the G.W. training program.