Building relations and enhancing advocacy

An effective government relations plan can help build relationships and foster advocacy opportunities. In this connection, it can be seen how communications consultancies can set realistic goals for effective government relations.

“Government relations help corporates to moderate the policy and regulatory discourses by addressing the diverse spectrum of stakeholders through strategic messaging. In recent times, India has taken a very consultative and participative approach towards policy making and regulatory framework,” says Dr Samir Kapur, Senior Vice-President and New Delhi Branch Head, Adfactors PR.

The government extensively engages with industry bodies, think-tanks, business groups, civil society organisations and corporates to develop a consensual framework of policy imperatives. These imperatives are intensely debated across all executive and legislative levels before crystallizing into policy decisions, he felt strongly.

Looking at what is advocacy per se, ‘advocacy’ is the activity of an individual or group to influence or support a particular cause or policy. A fitting definition that I found is here – “most practitioners know intuitively that the advocacy function itself (thereby, Public Relations) is neither good nor bad. Rather, it is the way in which the function is carried out that makes the difference.”

“Advocacy plays a crucial role in articulating the viewpoints of corporate to the diverse spectrum of decision makers and influencers,” adds Dr Samir.

Government Communications can be complicated

For many people, matters related to government can be imposing, confusing, or even intimidating and sometimes it can lead to navigate events or implications. For that reason, many people worry about laws and legislation only after they’ve been passed or implemented.

For Public Relations firms, an effective government relations strategy is very important in basically getting it right for their clients. Such strategies can definitely help build relationships between businesses and legislators, it can also secure funding and provide laws and legislation that can positively impact an organisation.

Government Relations involves interactions

As it is very clear, Public Relations involves interactions and communications between various organisations and the public. This includes:

  • anticipating and interpreting public opinion
  • researching programs of action to educate the public
  • setting objectives and plans to convey a particular message

A logical part of communicating with the public also involves communicating with the public about legislative policy decisions; conveying an organisation’s responsibilities as it relates to those policy decisions; and having an opportunity to influence and change public policy. As such, a strong government relations practice is essential to the public relations umbrella of any communications organisation.

Government relations specifically focuses on how an organization interacts with the government and its various branches and officials. This is the area of public relations that helps build relationships and positive interactions between an organization and government officials.

Government relations relies heavily on communicating about regulatory issues, one-on-one conversations with government representatives, and lobbying efforts on behalf of a group or organization.

What is good government relations practice?

Communications organizations have a responsibility to their clients to be well-versed in all areas of communication, including positive interaction with government agencies and officials. For businesses of any size, navigating government circles can be a tedious and confusing process. Communications firms can help circumvent some of those struggles for clients. Even if there is a negative fallout, they can help their clients to handle the situation better and ultimately reach a solution, if possible, and move forward.

A good government relations practice should be able to:

  • Represent a client and their interests from a wide variety of industries
  • Provide knowledge in legislative developments
  • Offer targeted messaging to reach government agencies and officials
  • Conduct direct lobbying on behalf of a customer’s concerns
  • Build relationships with key government officials

Lastly, to be effective in government relations there must be a roadmap set to maximize a plan for success.

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Shree Lahiri
Shree is the Senior Editor at Reputation Today and hopes to move from one focus area to another in the editions that will be released this year. Having worked in Corporate Communications teams, she has experience of advertising, public relations, investor and employee communications, after which she moved to the other side – journalism. She enjoys writing and believes the power of the pen is indeed mighty. Covering the entertainment beat and the media business, she has been involved in a wide range of activities that have thrown open storytelling opportunities.

She can be reached at: @shree_la on twitter

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