May 11, 2017, by Erik Larson

Becoming and Agile Association

If we've learned one thing so far in this 115th Congress it is that we have to be prepared for anything. Policy has become a touch-and-go situation. Threats and opportunities meet us each passing week.

Creating a strategy in government affairs looks very different than in years past. If our aim is to be prepared, the logical question is prepared for what? We have seen surprises at nearly every turn since the start of the new Congress and Administration. Following the lead of the tech world, what associations need today is agility.

Point #1: Get Data On Your Industry

You should begin by arming yourself with a broad range of economic data on your sector. Think jobs, economic output, business growth, tax contributions – the kinds of data points you would need to paint a job creation and economy narrative. Since we don't know exactly which policy we will be addressing, let alone the details of its design, we need to have a data arsenal at-the-ready. For a quick reference guide to standard, publicly available data sources, go to this link.

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Point #2: Speed Is The Priority

The timing of your industry's message on a particular issue is arguably the most important variable. We would all love the luxury of more time, but it's not realistic in today's political environment. The current president is a Tweeter, so the bar is set there. That is to say, it's nearly a real-time situation – you need to respond fast to even get in the conversation.

Can your indsutry reports do this? Instant sharing via social media. Learn more here.

Point #3: Tell Local Stories

Even when you're lobbying on Capitol Hill you need to tell the stories of local communities, and local voters who put those officials into office. This may seem daunting – how will you get the data and salient details needed at such a granular level? Go back to step #1: all of the data you pulled together allows for county and congressional-district level detail. The hard part is telling a compelling story.

This is a great example of a local story that had big impact with a Congressman from the area.

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