During a recent House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, the Internet Association’s chief executive officer Michael Beckerman said, “Congress does need to be a little careful not to put too heavy of a hand on [new technology] and regulate it too much.”
I couldn’t agree more. According to a recent Interbrand Best Global Brand report, 11 of the Top 25 brands are technology-focused — Apple, Google, Microsoft, IBM, Amazon and Facebook, to name a few.
This unprecedented growth in the technology sector has spawned a new generation of companies following in the footsteps of America’s most trusted brands and transforming the way we do business, communicate, and provide goods and services. Consumers are intimately familiar with this new generation. Their products and offerings have become ingrained in our daily lives. Even still, unfettered innovation in the marketplace is producing an even newer generation of companies that are transforming the marketplace at an unparalleled pace.
Newcomers such as Munchery, Shyp and Thumbtack are connecting chefs directly to our kitchens, changing how we ship packages around the world, and giving consumers competitive pricing options to get personal projects done easily.
If these companies are to reinvent decades-old industries, grow the economy, and create new jobs, while providing consumers access to new markets, products, and an unprecedented amount of information, we owe them an organic marketplace that is free from the regulatory pressure and legislative scrutiny that too often comes with a technology boom.
The first round of established tech companies have been able to successfully utilize the popularity of their brands and products to inspire their customers to mobilize against unfavorable legislation or regulation offered at the local and state levels. Now newer and lesser-known companies need to join the fight with a proactive strategy that pushes back against attempts in Washington to disrupt their business model.
Look no further than the 2016 presidential election for a launching pad. With access to their millions of users and customers, these companies have a tremendous opportunity to impact the outcome of the election. Several presidential candidates, including Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, have made visits to Silicon Valley in an effort to learn more about the biggest issues facing the tech industry. By leveraging their popularity, tech companies should demand the presidential candidates outline their technology agendas and how they plan to protect and cultivate an environment that promotes innovation, creativity, and big ideas.
Second, technology companies must build and sustain relationships with relevant stakeholders, influencers and local leaders who can help evangelize the impact these companies have on improving our lives. They have the ability to help educate lawmakers on the impact these companies have on the economy and society as a whole.
Finally, tech leaders need to communicate their positive contributions to local and regional media markets. Much of the national media covers this industry religiously, but the reality is that local and regional media outlets have limited resources to cover the positive contributions of these companies. Local and regional media play a significant role in framing the thought process to lawmakers.
By incorporating this proactive approach, established brands will be better protected, and newer ones will have more opportunities to advance. But most importantly, tech companies will continue to provide consumers with services and new markets while helping to create jobs.
The future of America’s tech industry depends on what companies operating in this space do today. By launching and sustaining a preemptive and strategic approach to keeping Washington’s regulators and lawmakers at bay, we can foster an environment where technology and innovation can thrive for decades to come.
Leveraging nearly 10 years of past presidential and congressional campaign and public affairs experience. Joshua Baca is senior vice president of DDC Public Affairs, and chairman of DDC’s technology industry practice. In 2012, he served as the National Coalitions Director for former Gov. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Baca joined DDC in 2008 after working for several congressional campaigns and on Capitol Hill. Reach him @BeltwayBaca.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.