How to Develop a Winning Government Relations Strategy
Legislative and regulatory change has the potential to generate significant value for an organisation or wipe away significant value. Developing successful strategies for engagement with government is key to protecting against risk and realising significant value. There is no one size fits all approach to developing successful strategies, but this article aims to discuss some of the key elements of a successful strategy to help get you started.
Start with Clear Objectives
Clearly articulate and agree on a clear set of objectives for the engagement. At this point it is important to be realistic about what could be achieved with an engagement strategy, fully considering current political realities and appetite for change. For example, after a period of significant reform in an area, the government will be less willing to re-engage on that area. It would be sensible at such a time to consider a strategy of building and maintaining relationships rather than attempting to bring about further change.
Identify Key Stakeholders
Once you have set clear objectives, identify key stakeholders across government. This could include:
- Government ministers
- Shadow ministers
- Committee chairs and members
- Members of the crossbench
- Vocal backbenchers
In identifying key stakeholders, while more emphasis should be placed on those that will have a significant influence in the immediate future, it is also important to maintain good relationships with shadow ministers to ensure that your strategy is sustainable in the long-run. This is particularly important around election time, but attention should be paid to maintaining good bipartisan relationships even outside election periods.
Identify Current Positions
After you have identified key stakeholders, you should begin the process of identifying their positions on issues relevant to your engagement. Broadly you should sort each of your stakeholders into:
- No Position: those who have no clearly articulated position on the issue(s)
- Detractor: those who clearly do not support your position on the issue
- Neutral: those who are neither supportive or unsupportive of your position on the issue(s)
- Supporter: those who are supportive of your position on the issue(s) You should then identify where you want to shift positions and what positions you aim to shift them to.
Develop Key Messages
When communicating with your key stakeholders, you want to make sure that your messages are clearly aligned with their objectives. A successful engagement relies on you being able to communicate to a stakeholder why your issue/position is something that is relevant to their priorities and should take precedence over other issues. In this regard, it is useful to quantify your organisation’s impact and make sure you are aware of how it is relevant to their current priorities and, where possible, their constituency.
Plan Engagement Activities
For each of your stakeholders, plan engagement strategies. This could include a mix of letters, attending events and arranging meetings. For longer-term engagements, it may be useful to find relevant events hosted by industry associations so you have more opportunities to engage with your stakeholders.
Track Mentions of Your Issues
Track mentions of your issues across social media, press releases, parliamentary speeches to keep up to date with changes in your issues and be aware of any updates from important stakeholders.
Review and Refine
Make sure you review your strategy at regular intervals and refine your strategy as your issue evolves.