Saturday, May 17, 2008

Good Research - the Key to Lobbying Success

Writing my most recent edition of Corridors, Action Strategies' monthly government relations newsletter, I began to realize something really important. Namely, the success of a government relations campaign can often be based off of an organization's ability to present their case from the perspective of where it fits in with the public good. More specifically, legislataors want to know how adopting your organization's policies and/ or ideas will gain them favour with their constituencies. With the plethora of ideas pushed forward before Parliament and the provincial legislatures, the cause or organization with the most researched and thought out position wins. Therefore, presenting your case in detailed policy paper is essential.

Government Relations consultants are more than just ice-breaker with government officials. Good ones are also policy wonks. They know how to research and draft position papers. They also draft them with care and detail so as to bring out the essential elements.

The process starts with setting an objective in mind. Ideally, a policy paper is going to be most effective if it will circulated amongst those in the civil service or close advisors to legislators. As such, Action Strategies always sets out the goal of either having our draft placed in their hands or guiding them with our research in the drafts of their briefing papers.

Second, our clients find the value of entrusting the development and research of their policy papers because they can be challenging to put together. They are challenging because your goal must be to keep them short and succinct. Recommendations need to be clearly pronounced and under them lie the explanations. I always advise that they should be prescriptive, not descriptive.

Third, solid fact-based research should be communicated throughout. We gain and communicate our research by releasing polls and relaying academic research. Gathering this information is no small task. Placing this information in a formal and informative tone requires an overall paper that presents the answers of what and why your issue is important.

Our clients recognize the value of seeking out the research that will build their case. They also trust Action Strategies to formulate and draft policy papers that communicate in the professional manner your organization or cause deserves.

Mark Buzan is the owner of Action Strategies, a public affairs & government relations consultancy. He brings a number of years of understanding of working with various government agencies and policy makers. You can subscribe now to his monthly public affairs newsletter by visiting the newsletter section of his website.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Budgeting for Public Relations Campaigns

Regrettably, PR departments are often the first to go when budget cuts are necessary within. But PR is an essential investment that gets results. In fact, some industry analysts observe it delivers as much as 100 times more influence than advertising. Organizations can get the most out of their PR budget by understanding the costs associated, knowing the right techniques and maximizing their ROI.

One of the most important things an organization can do to create a cost-efficient budget is to plan for possible threats and opportunities that may arise. When preparing your budget, set money aside for new projects that might require funding, and for setbacks that could be costly. Circumstances can always change, so planning ahead can save an organization from floundering because of unplanned expenses.

Get the most out of your PR budget by taking advantage of free speaking opportunities appropriate to your organization. Every organization should have a speaker’s bureau with trained individuals who can educate the community, motivate your publics, and announce new projects and events. Look for opportunities to speak for free at events like trade shows, conventions, and community-service groups. This provides a more personal approach to communicating with your audience. A good PR consultant can assist you in setting up the costs of such a campaign and set appropriate priorities.

Some organizations have a difficult time determining which PR agency is the right one to handle their account. Which proposals are priced fairly? Choosing an agency that fits within your budget and satisfies the needs of your organization is important. Begin by creating a benchmark to determine which agencies charge what amount for which tasks.

As you can see, there are many things you can do to get the most out of your PR budget. I have only listed a few, however there are many more. PR is an investment that can provide substantial results when allotted a proper budget. Knowing the right techniques can help you get the PR you need with the budget you can afford.
Mark Buzan is Principal and Chief Magnifier in Action Strategies, a full service Strategic Communications, Public Relations and Public Affairs Consultancy. Make sure to contact him for advice on reaching audiences you may or may not have yet considered in your marketing communications and PR campaigns. Drop him a line if you are looking for help in developing a public relations campaign. You can view his website at www.actionstrategies.ca.