I was talking yesterday with a friend who’s a government relations (GR) expert. He works for a trade association with some heavy hitting corporate members.
Naturally, our conversation turned to the aftermath of Tuesday’s presidential election. He raised a public policy dilemma that I suspect most if not all organizations active in the public policy arena are facing. What do you say to the new administration? This is of particular import given that the election result surprised so many.
My government relations friend said that his GR team had established lines of communication with Hillary Clinton’s transition team in an effort to get their top issues on the transition team’s radar. They did not, however, reach out to Donald Trump’s people on the assumption that the Republican candidate had no chance of winning. Oops.
What does this mean for you? Businesses and associations with issues before the federal government have to figure out messaging for the incoming administration—and they have to do it quick. Specifically, here are the basic steps you would be wise to follow:
- Hold a series of message development sessions at which you craft a magnetic message capable of resonating with Trump officials.
- Test that message rigorously, using external advisors to road test it and tell you if you are on target (what I like to call the “dummy test”).
- Train your top executives and your government relations staff to deliver these messages concisely and powerfully.
- Identify, to the extent possible, any campaign promises that touch upon your public policy positions.
- Draft and circulate updated position papers explaining your issues in terms that stand a chance of persuading the new administration.
All of the above is challenging enough in “normal times” (whatever they are). Under present circumstances, you now need to accomplish this in a few weeks’ time, at most.
This enormously compressed time frame means all hands on deck. Internal and external communications and government relations resources must be tapped to the max. Lose this opportunity to get in on the ground floor and the elevator is leaving without you. And it’s not returning any time soon.