As a policy professional, you're tasked with a range of responsibilities. It's your job to monitor important policy issues, advocate for policies that benefit your business, industry, or members, and even write and develop policies themselves. Success for your role is often measured by quantifying policy wins and positive legislative outcomes, which has been made more difficult due to gridlock in Washington. This challenge has been compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, which transformed the way you work overnight, and forced policy teams to completely rethink their strategies and priorities.
To better understand these changes and help you navigate this historic moment, we surveyed over 700 policy professionals. Our goal was to better understand the specific ways the coronavirus pandemic has transformed the way you work, to benchmark your resource allocation and time management, and to help you identify new best practices.
While there are many different ways policy professionals demonstrate value, our research identified three key tactics that your peers are focused right now on as they navigate this uncharted territory.
Theme 1: Increasing External Stakeholder Engagement
The only constant in the era of coronavirus is uncertainty. Perhaps, now more than ever, your stakeholders look to you for guidance on how the latest news will impact their business or industry. Many of our survey respondents indicated an increase in stakeholder interest since the Covid-19 outbreak, and have responded by offering new ways to get information and stay engaged.
Many said they have started sending daily updates to their members and stakeholders, launched virtual meeting and event programs, and more. “[Our] firm is producing original research and newsletters about how [Covid-19] is affecting clients' industries,” said one respondent. “Membership dues [have been] raised and retained as a result of increased resources to members,” said another. Policy professionals are reporting on success in a number of ways including member retention metrics, digital event attendance, content engagement metrics like video views, social engagements, and more.
Theme 2: Demonstrating Positive Financial Outcomes of Advocacy and Lobbying Efforts
Policy professionals often measure success by showing positive financial outcomes. This might take the form of industry or business size growth or securing funding in a piece of legislation. With so much at stake and major legislative and regulatory activity happening at the federal and state levels to combat coronavirus, there’s a spotlight on policy teams’ work and many companies and industries are actually investing more in lobbying, government affairs and their policy teams. In fact, at least 3,200 companies, trade groups and other organizations lobbied on the CARES Act.
This moment has also highlighted how essential your work is to the survival of an organization – or even an entire industry. “Successfully lobbying for specific COVID legislative relief measures,” “Seeking amendments to lessen the impact on industry,” and “Lobbying and securing provisions in Congressional relief bills to assist my membership,” were just some of the responses from survey respondents when we asked about how they are continuing to show ROI for their work.
Theme 3: Securing Strategic Earned Media Coverage
Securing strategic media coverage can have a huge impact on your government affairs strategy and policy agenda. The right media coverage can drive awareness of your policy position or issue, garner public support or support from important policy stakeholders, or bring in new business or members. While not a new way to demonstrate value, many organizations are under increased pressure from leaders to garner strategic media coverage for their industry or organization with so much at stake. One respondent notes, “Data points showing positive public image communications and outreach are playing an increasing role in what our Board is wanting to see.” Another is leveraging strategic earned media coverage to garner support from the administration to prioritize relief for their industry, “Garnering extensive media coverage on agriculture's issues. It has been effective in getting the administration's attention on the need for disaster aid funding for growers affected by COVID-19.”
The outbreak of coronavirus has amplified many of the existing challenges policy professionals face and has presented new ones. Policy professionals are struggling to manage information overload amidst growing policy portfolios and staffing constraints, are working longer hours as the lines between life and work are blurred with childcare concerns top of mind and are facing more scrutiny from executives. However, in spite of this, your peers have found concrete and measurable ways to show the value of their work. Across each of the strategies, identify key performance indicators (KPIs) and establish benchmarks, so you can show improvement over time and can continue to show the value of your work to executives and the C-suite.
Read the full 2020 Policy Insider's Report here.
Content produced outside of the POLITICO Pro newsroom.