Center for the Science in the Public Interest

Creating Echo Chambers for Issues

Advocacy campaigns have become battlefields for issues such as restricting use of the chemical BPA in plastic containers.Terms such as "lobbying," "advocacy" and "public affairs" are used commonly – and not always flatteringly – when discussing influencing Congress. NPR's Morning Edition ran a piece this week that gave a glimpse of what those terms mean on the ground.

"The art of public affairs," says Anne Womack-Kolton, a vice president of communications for the American Chemistry Council, "is telling your story as many ways as you can to create that echo chamber around whatever target you are trying to reach."

The NPR story centered on the congressional debate over restricting use of bisphenol A (BPA) in manufacturing hard-plastic drinking bottles, including baby bottles. Chemical companies insist BPA is safe, while consumer activists say it interferes with reproductive development in animals and has been linked to heart disease and diabetes in humans.