There is a lot of nonsense talked about government relations. Some people will tell you there are “secrets” to getting it right. These are our “secrets”, and we’re happy to share them. It just helps government to work better for us all.
The most important single principle for successful government relations: learn to listen.
We’ve developed our understanding of government relations by being very good listeners. We’ve been listening to politicians – in government and in opposition – and the political staff who work for them for almost 30 years. That helps us understand the motives, needs and priorities that make the political level of government go.
We also listen – very carefully – to the men and women who have chosen careers in the bureaucracy. Their understanding of the public interest and good public policy sets the limits and directions for almost all government decisions. We know how to help our clients align their goals with the public servants’ sense of responsibility.
We can help you develop the capacity to listen effectively and to gain an understanding of what the people inside government want so you can position yourself as part of their solution.
A key to success: be sensitive to government relations environment you’ll be working in.
People make a lot of strange assumptions about government relations. Some are very cynical, and talk as though government relations were a matter of using “pull” and influence and personal connections. That’s certainly not the way it works today, if it ever was. Others view government relations as a power game, and talk (and maybe even think) as though they can use political pressure to push governments around. That almost never works.
So, if it’s not using “pull” or mounting political pressure, how do government relations work? It’s a matter of patient persuasion – and that’s especially important in the 2014 government relations environment.
The 2014 Government Relations Environment: very few secrets, and very little money.
Today’s government relations environment is the result of two very important changes that have occurred in the recent years. The most dramatic is that today the community, the media and governments themselves demand more openness and transparency in government’s dealings with all groups.
Virtually every government has been touched with scandal or the appearance of scandal, and the media (and social media) – not to mention opposition parties –are on constant alert for the slightest signs that “something’s not right here”. As a result, officials at every level – from mid-range bureaucrats to Deputy Ministers to Cabinet members and their political staff – are determined to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
The second critical change in government relations is a direct reflection of governments’ need to get and keep deficits under control. Spending decisions that used to be easy are very difficult today. That means that even “established programs” can’t be taken for granted any longer.
So – today’s successful government relations strategies must be seen as totally honest and above-board and all your proposals must meet very high standards of value for money.
In this environment, government officials want to deal directly with you – not some go-between. Talk to us, We can help you develop the capacity to do that, and we can help you make sure your proposals pass the “seen as honest” and “value for money” tests that are so important in 2014.
The Leonard Domino philosophy is based on our belief that our clients benefit most by developing their own ability to deal effectively with government.
That’s the approach we take with all our clients. For smaller organizations who have limited resources, our training can help them build their own capacities so they can “punch above their weight” when it comes to dealing with governments. With larger organizations, our planning or government relations counsel services will allow you to reach goals in less time because you won’t always have to re-invent the wheel.
In all cases, successful government relations are a strategic concern for the organization. We help address that strategic concern by sharing our unparalleled understanding of the way governments work and of the way they make decisions.
If understanding government relations seems important to you, we should talk.