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Strategic Advice

Julie Scott Allen, Senior Vice President

Strategic Advice

Developing an effective government relations program requires careful thought and planning. Understanding the federal legislative and regulatory landscape and considering how both affect an organization’s finances, operations, and business /advocacy goals is essential to figuring out the right kind of government relations strategy. As such, the District Policy Group works with a broad range of clients—from large public or private corporations to small non-profits—helping them get beyond a blank sheet of paper or empty screen to developing a successful government relations program. We seek to understand you, your business, your goals, and your concerns. We want to know how or if you have used government relations activities previously and will work with you to craft and implement a creative, strategic plan to advance your goals. We will work directly with you to develop policy recommendations and positions; identify strategic coalition partners and build coalitions that can deliver your message; effectively utilize media to grow public opinion and gain awareness and support; and organize your employees, members, leadership, and others to engage policymakers.

Our process involves identifying the goals and objectives that align with your business and/or policy interests and establishing a blueprint that can serve as the foundation for building or adding onto your government relations program in a way that best fits your needs. At the District Policy Group, when we think about building a government relations program, we seek to answer four key questions as time and resources allow: Where are the opportunities? How can we blunt the threats? What keeps you up at night? What is a home run? To get the answers, we undertake a four-step effort that involves the following components, customized to your particular organization’s previous experience and current goals:

  1. 1. Undertake a Political/Policy Audit: We assess your organization’s political assets with respect to relationships with policymakers, thought-leaders, and other stakeholders in a position to facilitate or thwart efforts that can support your organization’s goals. We assess your advocacy efforts to date, including written and oral communications, use of social media or traditional media, coalition participation, and direct lobbying efforts and how those have helped meet goals.
  2. 2. Conduct an Environmental Scan: We will conduct an internal needs assessment, soliciting information from your organization’s leadership and other relevant stakeholders on perceived priorities, needs, and threats. We will likewise conduct an external needs assessment, determining how Congress and the Administration have previously considered or plan to consider issues that are directly tied to your organization’s interests.
  3. 3. Create a Prioritized Strategic Plan: We will work with your organization to develop a written set of goals and objectives for a proposed government relations program for a defined period of time. This plan will draw upon the information obtained in the audit and environmental scan and will outline policy recommendations and activities for consideration that also reflect on the current budgetary and political environments. Our plan will include advice as to whether you need to build strategic partnerships or coalitions to support your efforts, and it will also discuss how to involve an effective public affairs strategy that considers pairing public relations and media to support your objectives.
  4. 4. Developing a Government Relations Agenda: We will draft a targeted government relations agenda, identifying legislative and regulatory priorities, a timeline, tasks and action steps, staffing options to support work, and metrics for evaluation. We believe that government relations should be results oriented, and understand that your Board, leadership team, investors, employees, and/or membership will want to know how your investment in government relations ultimately supported and advanced your organization’s goals.