The pharmaceutical trade group PhRMA is the most effective trade association in Washington, DC, when it comes to lobbying and membership mobilization, while the US Chamber of Commerce is the best at coalition building, and the US Travel Association leads the way when it comes to bipartisanship and building its industry’s reputation.

Those findings come from TradeMarks, a study evaluating the effectiveness of trade and professional associations conducted by the APCO Insight unit of APCO Worldwide. The study surveyed 456 policy leaders in Washington, DC, and analyzed the perceptions of what makes an association an effective public policy advocate in the eyes of its key audiences.

The two sectors that performed exceptionally well—healthcare and telecommunications—are sectors that also face particularly high-profile dialogues and legislation recently in the nation’s capital.

From the survey, 15 characteristics emerged as consistent for evaluating the effectiveness of associations. Each association included in the survey was scored along each of these characteristics, resulting in a cumulative score to show overall effectiveness.

The top ranked association in Washington, D.C., on each of these 15 characteristics is below:

Lobbying: PhRMA
Multilateral Impact: PhRMA
Local Impact: PhRMA
Membership Mobilization: PhRMA
Coalition Building: US Chamber of Commerce
Bipartisanship: US Travel Association
Industry Reputation Steward: US Travel Association
Events: US Chamber of Commerce
Media Relations: US Travel Association
Grassroots: America’s Health Insurance Plans
Social Media: Consumer Electronics Association
Unified Voice: National Beer Wholesalers Association
Member Representation: National Mining Association
Self-Regulation: Credit Union National Association
Information Resource: Business Roundtable

“While lobbying remains a critical function, our research shows that effective trade associations need to serve many other functions, especially in engaging with a broader range of stakeholders, in order to be seen as effective public policy advocates,” says Bill Dalbec, senior director at APCO Insight who led the study. “Indeed, lobbying only represents about 11 percent of what it means for a Washington, DC, trade association to be deemed effective.

“The ability to effectively work with stakeholders across legislative, executive branch and regulatory bodies and to have an impact beyond Washington, D.C., and make a difference at the state and local levels are absolutely critical for trade associations to be seen as effective in the minds of policy-makers.”