Election Outcome 2020: Your Legislative Agenda and the Communicator’s Role

There’s just over a month to go until Election Day, and whether you’re counting down the days for an incumbent win, looking forward to a change or just want it to all be over, don’t be caught flat footed on what the outcome could mean for your organization, cause or company.

Ask yourself a few questions to help sift through the potential scenarios and their impact. If there are or are not shifts in power close to home or nationally, how will that mesh with your organization’s short-term and long-term goals? Could you face more stringent regulations or perhaps have more open ears to present your rationale for fewer restrictions? What about legislative goals and others’ legislative agendas and their impact? Do you need a plan, have a story to refine, support and tell, and have messengers trained to effectively do so? Are your communication vehicles targeted and effective to support quick information sharing, advocacy and action? Not knowing the answer to any of those questions likely means your plan could stand to be revisited.

The PR Pro’s Role with Your Legislative Agenda

Likely your organization has an internal or consultancy team that handles any lobbying or government affairs needs at the federal and/or state level. Get those heads together now and as the communications leader for your company or organization, prepare a strategic communications plan to complement those government affairs efforts. Your role in protecting or influencing your organization’s ability to most effectively operate, grow and evolve is crucial as a partner to government affairs, especially during these challenging and evolving times.

Considerations Leading up to This Year’s Election

You might be wondering where to start. The first question to answer is do you know what your organization’s legislative agenda is for 2021? And, how will that shift depending on the local or federal election outcomes this November?

I’ve heard many colleagues and clients in PR and marketing say, “this won’t affect us, we’re going to stay the course doing what we do and let the chips fall where they may.” The desire to hope and wish for the best is one approach. I challenge you to take a more realistic and proactive approach when it comes to addressing legislative issues and how smart, strategic communications plays a role in supporting business and mission in the post-election world.

Remember, legislation can move fast or slow, but once it becomes law it’s hard to get overturned so being proactive is key. Building support for an issue requires smart planning and forward thinking. As communicators, we must help our colleagues or clients see the bigger picture and how it may impact what they do day in and day out. This requires raising potential post-election scenarios at the C-suite table, conducting issues and sentiment monitoring, and doing the strategic planning ahead of, not behind, the curve.

If you’re still not sure if this affects your company or organization, consider these questions:

  • Do you rely on certain environmental regulations and laws to protect your business, operate facilities or serve your customers?
  • Are there financial reporting, tax or loan/employment programs important to your organization?
  • Could healthcare reforms ranging from insurance and pay responsibilities to care policies significantly impact your product, service, employees and/or community?

If you answer yes to any of these, what’s your plan?

Identify your top legislative or government affairs objectives in 2021. Determine the best messages, stories, and advocates and supporters to help support or communicate your position. Put the right infrastructure and communication vehicles in place to reach the right audiences at the right time. Taking these steps will position your organization well for whatever comes your way after the election.
We’re just about a month away and any transitions will come quick.

Kris Naidl, APR, the Executive VP and managing director of PR at Laughlin Constable, is the PRCG affiliate for Chicago/Illinois. She and her Laughlin colleague Brian Knox, PRCG affiliate for Milwaukee/Wisconsin, regularly partner with internal and external governmental affairs teams to envision, create and implement successful communications to support legislative agendas for companies and organizations with interests related to waste disposal, energy and natural resources, pharmaceuticals and health care, agriculture and food supply, manufacturing, retail and more.

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