I'm in Edmonton right now co-leading a workshop on the essentials of lobbying. It is a small group with a varied background in the profit and not-for-profit sectors in Alberta and B.C. Most of them probably signed up for the course after the Alberta election results were in and with no idea what was about to happen at the Federal level. And here we are with the Liberals on top federally and Alberta showing off an NDP government - not something anyone at last October's workshop would have predicted.
This has left many in-house government relations staff scrambling trying to get the attention of the new kinds on the block and even veteran government relations experts are having to hone their skills. A consistent message for the workshop so far has been that it isn't all about who you know. Content advocacy is the best way to approach your government relations strategy.
However knowing who to call and when to call them is an easy fall back in many situations and shifting political sands has driven home the weaknesses of contact advocacy and the strengths of content driven advocacy. It means you need to know how to tell your story, where to tell it, and when the time is ripe to mount a campaign. Individuals and organizations have to spend more time analyzing the political and bureaucratic agenda, and learning about the political process that makes things happen. Content advocacy will generally steer you away from confrontational situations, builds relationships, and make it much easier to enlist allies to your cause of campaign. If you make that your long term approach, changes in government, cabinet shuffles, and changes in the bureaucracy won't put you into catch-up mode.
I promised the workshop participant I would re-post an interview I did back in June at the annual BIO conference which was held in Philadelphia this year. The interview was part of our BIORadio podcast series and featured a top Washington DC lobbyist.
Jeffrey Taylor is the Managing Partner at U.S. Government Relations Intl
. in Washington, DC and also my first interview at BIO 2015 in Philadelphia. It was a hot and humid day there, and Jeffrey was glad to be inside where there was air conditioning even though the size of the Pennsylvania Convention Center meant there was still lots of miles to walk just to get where you needed to be. I initially tracked him down through social media which, as you'll hear in our conversation
, has become a valuable tool for influencing politicians.