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The 6 Biggest Challenges Facing Government Affairs Pros in 2021

by Mia Manzella, FiscalNote

No doubt 2020 was hard but, as we settle into new routines and realities, 2021 is coming with its own challenges. Here’s how FiscalNote helps you succeed with overcoming some of the biggest work challenges this year.

Challenges FiscalNote Solutions

From companies in the Fortune 500s, to trade associations, nonprofits, and lobbying firms, government affairs professionals 𑁋 across industries and sectors 𑁋 are facing the same difficulties. Navigating and staying on top of everything as it happens in the age of digital politics and activism needs advanced technology. But like news cycles, even pain points can change with lightning speed. 

Here are the top challenges faced by government affairs professionals like you as we get into 2021 𑁋 and how FiscalNote’s all-in-one issues management solution solves them. 

1. Exponential Increase of Issues to Manage and Track

Your team’s responsibilities are rapidly growing, especially given the volume and complexity of legislative and regulatory issues to track and manage. According to our State of Public Affairs: 2021 Industry Report, 78 percent of government affairs professionals say the number of public policy issues their organization is monitoring has increased in the last year. Combine this with the fact that most are already stretched for resources operating with small, nimble teams, and you’re left with an overwhelming number of policies and issues teams need to discover, monitor, and report on to internal and external stakeholders. 

Tonya Saunders, principal at Washington Premier Group, agreed with that sentiment during our Challenges Facing Government Relations in 2021 — and How to Solve Them webinar. 

“We are assessing the issues that are priorities for the Biden administration, and that requires paying attention to the news cycle. I just heard again today of some of the executive orders that he is reversing from the last administration. A lot of those are going to have an impact on the legislative agenda that Congress takes up” 

FiscalNote is your first line of defense for monitoring developments within the U.S. and around the world, making sure you don’t miss a beat and are alerted to every update that matters from newly introduced policies to breaking headlines.

2. Hyperactive Regulatory Activity and Impact

Outside of the obvious impacts of COVID-19, over 50 percent of government affairs professionals in our 2021 State of Public Affairs report identified regulatory activity as having the most significant impact on their industry in recent years. 

Adam Weiss, partner at FIO360, shares that he’s advising his clients that “regulatory action is a place where they need to be aware, have their wits about them, and their head on a swivel. What do you want to get done, how do you prioritize, how do you triage offensive and defensive opportunities, and then how do we create a cohesive approach and strategy, and execute on it?”

Finding comprehensive regulatory information from proposal to enactment can be challenging.  FiscalNote keeps you informed on the regulations that matter so you won’t have to search through multiple online registers to stay on top of the regulatory developments that affect your organization. You’ll be able to monitor newly proposed regulations through the entirety of the rule-making process 𑁋 with access to notices, executive orders, comments, and hearings 𑁋 giving you the information you need to take action.  

The State of Public Affairs: 2021 Industry Report

An in-depth snapshot of some of the top trends in the government affairs industry and what you need to be prepared for in a continually changing global market.

3. Heightened Fear of Missing Out on an Important Piece of Policy

FOMO is real for government affairs pros. Missing a potentially impactful bill or regulation could have major implications on your organization, which explains why it’s also a top stressor in your job. 

“Your speed of data collection has to match at a minimum the speed with which the legislative or political process is moving,” says John Pournoor, global head of government affairs at 3M. And the only way to effectively do this is through technology.

FiscalNote’s policy monitoring solution cuts through the noise by sending you timely, accurate, and actionable information on relevant legislative and regulatory developments 𑁋 helping you understand, measure, and analyze the policy that presents consequences to your business. Whether you’re focused on local, state, or federal matters within the U.S., or issues around the globe, FiscalNote offers coverage beyond the traditional footprint with more global policy and public official data than any other provider, covering 19 countries (and counting) across North America, South America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.

4. Dire Lack of Spending Power and Staff

With the top three biggest challenges affecting the function being an extensive number of public policy issues to tackle, a lack of spending power, and too small a team, over 40 percent of government affairs professionals surveyed in our 2021 State of Public Affairs report feel they don’t have enough time to stay on top of their issues portfolio and accomplish all the goals set before them. 

“Organizations need to apply modern technology, data, and analytics to challenges that will only increase in volume and complexity over time. Today's in house groups are forced to react rather than plan and strategize because they spend most of their time chasing information,” says Chelsea Raab, managing director of enterprise business development at FiscalNote.

Having FiscalNote is like a force multiplier or having another highly effective team member that will save you hours of time tracking legislation and regulations, managing stakeholders, and reporting on business impacts. Delivering the right information at the right time, FiscalNote gives you back the time you need to effectively navigate risk and maximize new opportunities. 

5. More Pressure on Reporting and Measuring Your Team’s ROI

It’s challenging for government affairs professionals to show the value of the work they are doing. Oftentimes, other groups or teams don’t necessarily understand all the work that goes into the job from pushing legislative agendas to mobilizing advocates and engaging with the right stakeholders. “People understand that there's something that happens in Washington but they don't necessarily understand how it happened,” Weiss notes. 

Challenges Facing Government Relations in 2021 - and How to Solve Them

Join FiscalNote | CQ Roll Call and a panel of industry experts for a recorded discussion and futurecast on what government relations professionals can expect in 2021 and what this year holds for lobbyists and grassroots boots on the ground.

Saunders adds, “We are that bridge 𑁋 from the corporate, private, or nonprofit world to the lawmaker or policymaker, whether it be in the federal agency or it be a member on Capitol Hill. We serve as information gatherers. We send out and disseminate information.”

However, it’s nearly impossible to show tangible results without the right technology. FiscalNote helps departments prove their value and ROI to executives, investors, members, or other key stakeholders with the ability to report on policy impacts, stakeholder engagements, and team strategy and activity. Automated reporting capabilities can help teams save time, generate advanced, professional-looking reports in minutes, and easily share insights. 

6. Building and Maintaining Relationships in a Virtual Environment

In an industry that revolves around face-to-face communication and networking, the shift to remote work has been a major pain point, as we saw in our report. “My biggest fear and anxiety is that we all work in a relationship-based business. How do we do that when we can't be with people?” Weiss says. 

Nearly 60 percent of government affairs professionals shared that finding ways to connect with lawmakers and new stakeholders virtually continues to be a challenge. “We can't wander the hallways and run into members like we once did, so relationship building is going to be key in respect to education,” says Saunders. 

In terms of how to effectively make the most of virtual connections, storytelling is key. “Be prepared and bring your best story; share information via email; send background materials any time your organization has an issue that you are trying to get addressed; and one key: make sure you do your homework regarding if there is an economic impact to that member's district, to his constituency,” Saunders adds. 

Looking at it through a positive lens, Weiss adds, “You have a captive audience 𑁋 literally a captive audience. There is value in that, right? Because, you know, you can deliver a message, and you have a window of time to do that.” 

Building relationships with government officials and lawmakers will continue to be of the utmost importance, especially now. One of the most effective ways to make your voice heard and build relationships with these elected officials is to amplify your voice through grassroots advocacy. FiscalNote’s suite of digital advocacy tools is readily available to help get your strategy up and running in no time. 

Ready to see for yourself?

Let’s explore how modern issues management can help you get more done.