Welcome to the new world of government relations.
Government relations have changed. Even a few years ago, most organization hired old-fashioned lobbyists to talk to governments on their behalf. The lobbyists usually claimed they could use their influence with decision-makers to get special treatment for their clients – at a price.
That’s not the way we think government relations should work in today’s world. The most successful organizations today focus on developing the knowledge and relationships they need to talk to governments effectively, and to set and reach their own objectives. That’s what Leonard Domino & Associates helps our clients to achieve.
We describe the process as “talking to government” – but the kind of talking you’ll be doing with government is not just conversation: it will always be one form or another of negotiating.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines negotiation as “hold[ing] communication or conference (with another) for the purpose of arranging some matter by mutual agreement”. You’ll want the people you’re talking to in government to agree to do the things that will benefit your organization or – at least – to refrain from doing things that will harm your interests.
To do that, you will have to express your goals and objectives in a way that is aligned with the government’s goals and the values that motivate the people you’re negotiating with.
That’s what we call the “new world of government relations, and if it makes sense to you, we’d like a chance to talk to you about working with Leonard Domino & Associates.
help you define your goals and assess your risks.
help you identify the “players” and understand their interests, concerns and
help you learn the things you’ll need to know to talk successfully to
arrange the meetings – making sure you’re talking to the right people, in
the right order, at the right time.
help you keep your relationships strong, positive and effective.
- We can provide specialized training and briefing for others in your organization to strengthen their understanding of your government relations work.
We’ll use our knowledge and experience to save you time and help you reach your goals by working through the Leonard Domino “road map” to the new world of government relations.
The Leonard Domino and Associates “road map” to the new world of government relations.
Our “road map” is an overview of the way we believe organizations can be most successful in the new world of government relations. In it’s simplest form, it’s a list of four questions that we help our clients to answer.
This approach reflects more than 30 years of learning about the relationships between government and other organizations.
You make the decisions, but by following the road map we’re able to make sure you have all the information you need to make the right decisions and build successful relationships with governments.
Question One: “What are our goals, what risks are out there?”
Sadly, most of the clients who call us asking for advice, only after an unanticipated threat has arisen – be it cuts in funding, changes in regulation, adverse purchasing decisions, or whatever: most government relations by most organizations are reactive.
This road map question provides the basis for a proactive approach – helping your organization to anticipate and begin to take effective charge of your government and political environment.
Leonard Domino & Associates can help you, too. And we can also help you in a critical but often over-looked part of the process: making sure that all the people in your organization who should be informed and involved in your government relations work– from Senior operational management to the Board of Directors to the people who answer the ‘phones all understand what’s at stake.
That can help you build internal support for your government relations activities –and that’s critical to your longer term success.
Question Two: “Who are the ‘players’ – the people who will make the decisions – and the people who will influence those decisions – that will affect your goals and risks?”
It’s easy to identify the high-profile decision-makers – Mayors, Cabinet Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Heads of Crown Corporations and the like. But organizations who talk to government more effectively identify the whole range of people involved in government decisions. The high profile decision-makers are important, but the decision-making universe also includes the people who provide advice from the public service, from the political side, and from other community and related groups. It includes real or self-appointed “public interest” groups who concern themselves with your issues.
Who are all these people? Which are “for you”? Which against? And what are they saying as they talk to government?
We can help you answer this important question – quickly and accurately. Chances are, we already know most of the players – the people who will influence the political processes you’re concerned about: we’ve been helping clients talk to governments for years. We have a deep understanding of the internal processes of government – the way decisions actually get made
Question Three: “Now – who do we talk to first… who do we talk to second… and how do we arrange it all”
If we’ve worked our way to this point of the government relations “road map”, we’re ready to answer this complex question.
Arranging the “conversations” – and managing the process so that, as we talk to government, we build both our own understanding of the way the government sees things and their understanding of and trust in us – is the key to success here. And that’s one of the things Leonard Domino & Associates does best.
We’ll arrange the meetings for you. We are proud to have a reputation as being “no surprises” consultants, so when we call people inside the government, they’re usually not only prepared to meet with our clients, but they also approach the meetings in a positive frame a mind. That’s very important in the new world of Government Relations. And we’ll go to the meetings with you – and provide you with clear summaries of “our take” on what was achieved.
If we’ve worked together through our road map, you’ll be the people doing most of the talking at the meetings: you’ll be taking charge of your own government relations, and we’ll help make sure that– at the end of the day – you’re building the kind of trust and clear communications you need to talk to government successfully.
Question Four: “How are our relationships going?”
Talking to government successfully is just a matter of having one or two nice meetings. It’s not even primarily about not about “winning” particular issues. It is all about building relationships based on trust, shared knowledge and realistic expectations – on both sides.
So – once you’ve made the initial contact and started the conversation, it’s important to keep the relationships alive. Because we are constantly interacting with government on behalf of multiple clients, we make this almost effortless for our clients. We can remind your government partners of your concerns and your desire to work effectively with them.
It might be a “watching brief” – alerting you to anything that might affect your interests. It might be a simple as reminding you to send a clipping that might interest them. We’ll also suggest questions might like to ask (you learn more if you ask instead of just telling all the time).
We’ve also found that – because people inside the government know that we strive to work cooperatively with them and advise our clients to do the same – sometimes people on the government side will say things informally to us that they might not want to raise in meetings or put in writing, but that can help you manage and strengthen your relationships.
Keeping the relationships healthy is the key to success in talking to governments – and that’s our real specialty.
If the “road map” makes sense to you, call us and let’s talk to you about how we can help.
We can talk about an ongoing relationship – where we become part of your government relations team going forward. We can talk about specific agreements to address specific issues or areas of concern.
We can also talk about one of our specialties at Leonard Domino & Associates – developing and delivering seminars and other learning opportunities to help organizations develop their own capacities to manage their important relationships with government.