How to Build a Modern Government Affairs Strategy

Posted By: FiscalNote
FiscalNote employees and guests at Reinvent Influence 2017
FiscalNote employees and guests at Reinvent Influence 2017

The 2016 election brought about a time of incredible political uncertainty for the United States. Citizens and organizations that had predicted the election to swing one of two ways were, for the most part, shocked at the results on November 8th. However, what has come after the election was probably the biggest surprise for organizations with large government footprints and relationships with the lobbying community inside the Beltway.

Organizations that had relied on strategies built during and based on the previous political administration were hit the hardest in the most recent election. Why? The rules for modern government, and how organizations interact with modern government, had changed. What seemed like a solid strategy on November 7th was certainly changed on November 8th.

Today, with the new administration in place, the government affairs world is dealing with more unpredictability than ever before. New officials, a 24-hour news cycle, regulatory uncertainty, and evolving party priorities have become the new normal. As teams work to put together their strategy for 2018 and beyond, it is critical that they have the resources necessary to make data-driven decisions and collaborate seamlessly for maximum efficiency in this new landscape.

It has become a top-down initiative from the C-Suite to build a modern government affairs team to handle the immense changes that have occurred since the 2016 election. No longer can organizations afford to rely on the same pre-election methods of organizing teams to face legislative and regulatory issues. Below are 3 ways to build a modern government affairs strategy to establish your organization at the forefront of innovation and reinventing influence.

Implement a GRM

What is a GRM?

A Government Relationship Management platform, or GRM, takes the familiar pieces of legislative trackers and other subscription services for government affairs teams and brings them into the era of modern government relations. A GRM helps teams manage the interactions between key stakeholders and the issues that teams are monitoring from a government and policy perspective.

While a bill tracker may provide you the rudimentary and elementary information associated with a bill, a GRM provides you the context, the forecast, and the potential implications for your team regarding pieces of legislation and regulation by synthesizing the information your team inputs as well as best-in-class data and analytics. It’s this combination of open data and internal data unique to your team that makes a GRM so indispensable.

However, the key differentiator between a GRM and say, a legislative tracker, is the concept of Issues Management.

Modern government affairs teams frequently work with a GRM to allow teams to input team-wide notes, actions, and discussions to provide an unprecedented ability to communicate cross-departmentally. As a team’s primary system of record, a GRM allows teams to retroactively look back at previous issues that were followed and provide an opportunity for teams to postmortem as well as calculate ROI. Similarly, implementing a GRM allows for modern government affairs teams to strategize for upcoming legislative and regulatory issues.

All of these elements allow teams with GRMs to manage unpredictably and remain proactive in a turbulent political landscape. As the need for business style reporting, alignment of resources, and a strong system of record increases in the coming years, these teams will remain at the forefront of the industry.

Activate Your Grassroots Network

Does your organization talk directly to members and the public? If so, how frequently?

A modern government affairs team engages members on a regular basis not just to call to action, but to inform them as well. With news cycles running 24/7, and a dramatic increase in the politicization of issues, organizations that are able to engage members year round as opposed to just when pieces of legislation or regulation affect them will find the most success.

Being able to tie grassroots activities such as launching a campaign directly to legislative and regulatory outcomes can prove how effective an organization’s grassroots strategies have been. With the combination of a grassroots advocacy tool and a GRM, organizations are able to be able to follow issues from the grassroots level all the way to a national scale. Campaigns are only as effective as the results they produce, and if the process behind managing a successful campaign can be scalable and repeatable.

Creating a modern government affairs team requires building a grassroots strategy that allows organization’s members to be expeditiously alerted to issues and educated year-round.

Take Control of Your Social Strategy

What are people saying and what are you saying back?

With the rise of populism in the U.S., issues that government affairs teams need to monitor are beginning even before the local level; they’re beginning at the individual citizen level. As issues spring from a tweet or Facebook post, public relations is more critical than ever to protect brand identity and image in order for organizations to remain market leaders.

Modern government affairs teams must consistently monitor issues at a social level and collaborate cross-departmentally with Public Affairs and Public Relations in new ways to stay ahead of how rapidly crises can arise.

“No news is good news” is no longer the strategy to take on building an effective social strategy. In looking to 2018 and years to come, organizations must either make the news, or at minimum set the tone for a story ahead of time. The most effective organizations will be able to combine key internal information (from PR strategies) with the massive trove of external information (including current and pending government policy from around the world) in a single location, and organize all of it around the most pressing issues facing the organization.

Coordinating social media and PR efforts across offices, often times globally, requires a single system of record to keep teams on message and on brand. A modern government affairs strategy does not follow methods of previously used in years past of “knowing the right person.” The “right people” in an effective social media strategy are anyone with a smartphone or access to any of the social media platforms that now serve as their own grassroots advocacy systems.


A modern government affairs strategy for 2018 and beyond will incorporate many characteristics that business units across companies have already undergone post-election. In order to effectively control the flow of institutional knowledge, a single system of record must be implemented in order to effectively prove ROI and align for the future. A GRM is the industry standard for modern government affairs teams to be able to show the impact of both grassroots and social strategies. An effective grassroots strategy educates the consumer, constituent, and member base year round and not just when issues arise. Similarly, an effective social media strategy requires alignment from the government affairs department with the PR and Communications departments around a message before issues and the individual citizen begins to define the narrative.

If you want to find out more how to implement a GRM, activate your grassroots network, or take control of your social media strategy, please contact us here.