Traditional lobbying, campaign money, and power in Washington will always exist. However, with rapid advances in technology and the continued growth of social networking tools – YOU really are just as powerful as the connected K street lobbyist.

I recognized the power of the consumer at an early age. One summer I worked as an intern for Frito Lay and we worked very hard to build community through the Frito Lay challenge and other efforts in Baltimore. We learned a great deal and I know Frito Lay took our field reports seriously.

With regard to DC and advocacy, I saw the power of the consumer at AT&T Wireless. In that instance, a lawmaker from California was pushing the CPUC to initiate a wireless only number take back. The reason she was supporting it was due to area code exhaust occurring in California (they had gone from 13 area codes in 1997 to 25 around 2002). If enacted it would have required consumers to give back their current area code (they would keep their seven digit number) and get a wireless specific area code.

AT&T Wireless had a significant number of subscribers in this district and our consumers would have been the most affected by the technology specific overlay (TSO). We filed comments at the FCC and did some traditional advocacy. We were getting nowhere. It was time to directly reach out to our customers.

Collaborating with CTIA, we designed bill stuffers and our customers responded. They flooded the FCC and the California lawmaker with calls opposing this effort. The result – the lawmaker hauled us in and told us she would not continue to press the CPUC to implement the TSO.

The tools for engaging and having conversations with folks are much better now. With permission, we can learn more from our customers and work together to affect change.

If you don’t believe me — ask George Allen.

Related Note & Promotion – Seth Godin discussed the new politics the other day. It is the reason why I founded Tin Can Communications ™.