By Andrew Mangini
Every business or organization operates in an ecosystem dictated by government policy, stakeholder input, and public opinion. Your public relations strategy most likely works to promote your business or product in a strategic manner to your consumers and creates a positive public image. But how are you communicating to stakeholders? How do you engage with elected officials who determine policy regulating your industry? Are you shaping the public debate? Beyond your established public relations initiatives, a public affairs strategy is a nuanced segment of strategic communication and counsel that moves a larger needle to benefit your business. That’s where our Public Affairs team comes in.
New York State, and state governments throughout the country, counties, and local municipalities pass regulations and laws that touch every corner of every industry. The liquor licenses a bar needs to operate, the hours agricultural laborers are able to work to get milk on our table, and the way light is powered—all of these decisions are made by governments.
Your voice needs to be heard as regulations are being decided that directly impact your day-to-day operations. What are you doing to ensure your voice is echoing in the halls of power? This is often a blind spot to businesses that do not employ a formal public affairs strategy, or one that is not leveraged to the fullest potential, despite having the most consequential outcomes.
And when these regulations are made and decisions handed down to the industry, success often is determined by effective communication to the masses. Stakeholders need to be reassured of continued and successful business operations, and the public needs to hear your voice and message as they digest the information.
Shaping the public debate is a nuanced and subtle practice that leverages traditional public relations tools in a strategic manner, backed by a deep understanding of a legislative or governmental landscape. It is creating an echo chamber around stakeholders, decision makers, and law makers that is undeniable and shaped by your position.
There was no better example of the need for an effective public affairs strategy than the events of the past year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost every industry was slammed with changing state guidelines seemingly overnight. Early on in the pandemic, many tuned in to daily news conferences to understand the next regulation impacting their industry. Businesses armed with a public affairs apparatus deployed their resources early and effectively. Now during recovery, they are leveraging the same counsel and strategy to inform decisions surrounding economic recovery. There is no question that the public debate, informed by public affairs strategy, has worked to support the economic recovery of struggling industries and businesses.
At the intersection of business, government, and media is where a winning public affairs strategy lives. Similar to the realm it hopes to influence, it is sophisticated, intentional, and high-stakes. A successful public affairs strategy can change the course of the industry in favor of a business or position. Don’t be left in the dark without one.
In February of 2021, The Martin Group acquired Albany public affairs firm Gramercy Communications. If you are interested in learning more about our expanded PA expertise, please drop us a line.
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