iHeart Radio boasts that it has millions of listeners, but its target audience for a party it hosted here Friday night was much more tailored: the several hundred influential Republicans, Democrats and journalists who’ve descended on the state for Tuesday’s primary.
The digital radio company isn’t alone. Companies and associations increasingly are putting serious resources behind events aimed at the influence set on the ground in early primary states or flying in for debates. The sell, lobbyists say, is more casual and less transactional than trying to finagle face time in D.C. to sell legislation or press a policy with a campaign.
Having a presence here is “actually the best place to get face time” with influentials, said Kenny Day, senior vice president of iHeart Radio, whose party was also sponsored by Independent Journal Review and the climate change-focused super PAC ClearPath Action.
“There is absolutely no use trying to track down someone from Carly’s team or Bernie’s team on the phone, because they are here,” said Day, referring to Republican candidate Carly Fiorina and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. “The person making the decision is much more likely to be hanging out at the hotel lobby in Detroit or wherever the next debate might be than taking a call from D.C.”
The goal is — usually over cocktails and appetizers — to create opportunities for informal introductions, the exchanging of business cards and the promise of getting together to talk “business” in the future.