SPECIFIC POLITICAL STRATEGIES. Whether acting reactively or proactively, managers can employ four major strategies.1. Campaign financing. Although federal law prohibits U.S. corporations from backing a specific candidate or party with the firm’s name, funds, or free labor, a legal alternative is available. Corporations can form political action committees (PACs) to solicit volunteer contributions from employees biannually for the support of preferredcandidates and parties. Significantly, PACs are registered with the Federal Election Commission and are required to keep detailed and accurate records of receipts and expenditures. Some criticize corporate PACs for having too great an influence over federal politics. But a recent MIT study found no positive correlation between corporate political giving and subsequent profitability. The researchers concluded that companies should spend their money in more productive ways. Meanwhile, legislators are reluctant to tamper with a funding mechanism that tends to favor those already in office.2. Lobbying. Historically, lobbying has been management’s most popular and successful political strategy. Secret and informal meetings between hired representatives and key legislators in smoke-filled rooms have largely been replaced by a more forthright approach. Today, formal presentations by well-prepared company representatives are the preferred approach to lobbying for political support.Despite reform legislation from the U.S. Congress intended to correct abuses, loopholes, and weak penalties for inappropriate gifts, it is pretty much business as usual for corporate lobbyists. For example, phone companies AT&T and Verizon spent $22.4 million and $21.8 million, respectively, lobbying in Washington in 2006.3. Coalition building. In a political environment of countless special-interest groups, managers are finding that coalitions built around common rallying points are required for political impact.4. Indirect lobbying.Having learned a lesson from unions, business managers now appreciate the value of grassroots lobbying. Members of legislative bodies tend to be more responsive to the desires of their constituents than to those of individuals who vote in other districts. Employee and consumer letter-writing, telephone, and e-mail campaigns have proved effective.Advocacy advertising, the controversial practice of promoting a cause or point of view along with a product or service, is another form of indirect lobbying that has grown in popularity in recent years. But it may not be as effective as hoped, judging from a recent survey of 1,066 adults: “Only 14% said they intentionally paid more for aproduct that supports a cause.” The Internet is also becoming an effective indirect lobbying tool.