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Hey, Big Companies: People Like You! (And Don't Mind Your Lobbying) Hey, Big Companies: People Like You! (And Don't Mind Your Lobbying)

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Influence

Hey, Big Companies: People Like You! (And Don't Mind Your Lobbying)

AP111014159870- Resize.jpgBig business isn't typically thought of as the darlings of the public eye, but the majority of Americans actually have a favorable opinion of major companies, according to results from a new Public Affairs Council survey.

This year, 67 percent of Americans had a favorable opinion of major companies, up from 61 percent in 2011.

"Unlike those of us who live inside of the Beltway, every time most people think of a company, they don't think of politics. They think of buying their iPhone or the car they bought," said PAC president Doug Pinkham.

Tech companies got particularly high marks, but not so much for industries such as health care. But, don't get too excited, corporate America; when drilled down on specific issues such as outsourcing or whether regulation of business is needed, people become much more critical of major companies.

"The public has complex views on this. The swing is between, generally speaking, 'I like big companies, but I am concerned about too much power and influence,'" Pinkham said. "For companies, you've got something to build on."

Another big take-away is how the public views lobbying. While 54 percent of Americans say they would think unfavorably of a company that lobbies, a majority actually finds it acceptable for companies to lobby for specific reasons, such as protecting jobs, expanding markets and reducing costs.

But most surprising for Pinkham is that a solid majority -- 52 percent -- see companies lobbying for government funding or grants as acceptable.

"Lobbying has become a pejorative term. [People] hear the word and say they don't like it. But when you use lobbying a verb and it becomes how you represents yourself or your group, it starts to sound an awful lot like the First Amendment," Pinkham said.

Hear that, lobbyists? The public may not like you in theory, but if you're specific about the issues you work on, you aren't viewed as such bad guys after all.

Photo: AP Mario Vedder/dapd


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