Our good friends at the Public Affairs Council (PAC) continuously put out great content and best practices for public affairs professionals in the U.S. and around the world. Here at FiscalNote, we learn a great deal from their research and their findings are constant conversation topics at the lunch table. Recently, PAC asked their members what resources and methods they used to monitor corporate and policy issues on a global scale and FiscalNote was honored to be mentioned as a solution used by respondents of the survey.
Respondents identified four major challenges and requests for better global issues management. In this blog post, we wanted to take an opportunity to discuss how we specifically address the main challenges identified by PAC survey respondents, plus share some best practices we have heard from our clients working around the world.
PAC – Establishing priorities: In an age of too much information and too little time, knowing what to pay attention to, filtering and ensuring all business-relevant issues are captured and tracked is a challenge for many respondents.
FN: For many public affairs professionals, the volume and complexity of legislative, regulatory, and reputational issues that their organizations face is immense. For these reasons, FiscalNote has built a comprehensive Government Relationship Management (GRM) platform that notifies you and allows you to access research documents, social media, legislation and regulation at the state, federal, and international level (currently servicing 17 countries and the European Union, with more to come in the following year). In addition to having access to that key data, our software allows organizations to refine notification criteria; assign a priority and a position to key issues; upload files, news, and meeting notes that relate to those issues; and generate visually appealing, customizable reports. This all feeds into a view of risks and opportunities that gives business leaders the ability to look up issues by type, status, and impact in order to allocate resources and establish priorities more effectively.
PAC – Cultural differences: Global issues tracking presents a unique challenge due to research language barriers, as well as a lack of informational transparency, access and data availability in certain markets, especially at the local level.
FN: Access to data has always been a difficult problem to solve. At FiscalNote we source public information and have experienced first hand how the quality varies across countries. Thankfully, many more countries (particularly those in the EU and Latin America) have launched open data initiatives which have improved the availability of data and enabled us to include high-quality international data sets.
To help with the language barrier, FiscalNote’s GRM platform automatically translates key information such as bill titles, dates, authors, timelines, and (soon) entire bill texts.
Besides transparency and language challenges we often hear from our global clients that headquarter teams learn about risks or opportunities too late to take action and without accurate or helpful context on how the issue arose. This is sometimes a cultural issue as some staff do not want to share intel without senior sign off or because they feel the issue is not a big enough threat. Our platform enables risk managers with global responsibilities to access critical information as it develops, via our data feeds or via internal information being shared. All of this communication is then tracked in our platform preserving one system of record.
With our global clients, we’ve found that multiple departments often rely on our platform to stay abreast public issue developments that affect other areas of the company, including PR and Communications, Legal, Compliance, and more. Our GRM platform facilitates collaboration and prioritization, with features allowing you to determine if certain issues and bills are high or low priority, but as a best practice, we recommend our clients create their own definitions of what a priority is. For example, is “high priority” a serious reputational risk or potential loss of market access? Or is it something else? Agreeing on these definitions drives alignment across different markets or regions regardless of local interpretation.
Lastly, we’ve found that identifying the right influencers or stakeholders to build relationships with can be challenging for many teams. FiscalNote’s GRM also provide biographies and contact/social information (when available) for legislators in over 200 countries around the world so colleagues can see which influencers are relevant, or have interest in, your key issues.
PAC – Lack of internal resources: Whether financial, time or staff-related, the lack of necessary resources to track and assess volumes of information makes global issues especially challenging. Many also wish for a more consistent and centralized internal contact process that allows the business to better understand the issues management process.
FN: We hear this concern from many of public affairs professionals we interact with. Before many of our clients had FiscalNote, this knowledge used to sit in disparate systems – or had been lost due to staff departures – and did not reach staff in time in order to collaborate to avoid greater damage or spot patterns that are the beginning of a trend. That’s why FiscalNote has built an innovative GRM platform that serves as a comprehensive system that includes the data, analytics, collaboration, and reporting tools that organizations need to successfully perform issues management. One specific example of how we help clients centralize their process is through Issue pages on our platform. The platform enables live data we gather on government related risks to be organized along with internal team intelligence, be that from external relationships, the media or internal experts. Here, teams can add high level descriptions or talking points of the issues they work on to drive alignment with colleagues in other departments or offices; assign an impact (financial or otherwise); add relevant legislative or regulatory data; link news, files, and research reports that relate to that issue; and keep track of key internal and external stakeholders and the specific actions involved in proactively managing or responding to those issues.
PAC – Lack of external tools: On everyone’s wish list? One comprehensive tool or platform that would allow for the timely and “real time” identification and tracking of emerging issues. Many respondents also wish for a quality service provider who can add political intelligence to the findings they provide.
FN: Well, we hope the explanations above provide justifications as to why FiscalNote’s GRM is the most comprehensive global issues management system, but there’s more. In addition to the technology solutions that we’ve discussed above, FiscalNote also provides world class professional services to our clients with experienced consultants in the areas of policy, economics, law, and public relations. Our consultants provide human insights, research, and customized reports to augment your team’s reach in any issue across any country around the world. These services are highly-customized to fit your needs and can provide qualitative insights to give you a full picture of the issues that matter most to you.
Every day, FiscalNote clients around the world are using their GRM systems to manage issues, align business functions, and drive better outcomes. Want to learn more? Contact us here.