In an age when business ethics are constantly questioned, be sure your government relations team follows a strong code of ethics.
From the ethics reform that brought gift bans to the new state House rules that require disclosure of all lobbyist activities, at Tripp Scott’s government affairs division, TSE, the day-to-day has had to adapt, but the firm’s guiding principles have remained the same.
Governmental relations specialists are their client’s eyes, ears and voice. The role of advocate is to produce solutions proactively and reactively. This includes providing creative solutions with last minute amendments to legislation, working within the budget and through agency rules, as well as managing expectations in an often unpredictable process. While interacting with elected officials, agency heads and staff, we understand these interactions are a direct reflection on the client. In this process, decisions need to be made very quickly, therefore knowledge of the legal parameters when amending a bill and securing funding is imperative to success.
Experience is key in knowing who to talk to, how to gain access, what to say and how and when to say it.
An effective advocate must be ethical. Despite public perception, the standards of ethics and professionalism are high in the governmental relations world as public trust is so crucial to the functioning of our government. Ethics have always been the foundation of TSE’s strategy. Decision-makers must be able to trust that the information being provided to them is sound, true and accurate. Cutting corners on ethics guarantees failure in the long term if not in the short term.
Communication is key. Honesty and directness are what a lawmaker wants and needs. In making a solid argument, giving all sides of the issue — even that of opponents — not only builds the relationship, it also helps the lawmaker address opposition. This strategy empowers the lawmaker and blocks other sides from redirecting focus. Earning the trust of decision-makers and their staff is crucial to being an effective advocate.
Adaptive messaging is critical. Mastering a consistent message that can be tailored to a variety of personalities and values is a coveted skill possessed by TSE. Strong research allows the advocate to know both the political and economic climate surrounding the issue. What will resonate with someone from the Panhandle may not resonate with someone from South Florida. The message has to click to inspire the needed outcome.
Building trust with decision-makers and staff is as crucial as doing your homework on an issue. A strong network, access and dedication are what TSE offers its clients.
Tripp Scott Law Firm
Fort Lauderdale • Boca Raton • Tallahassee
954.525.7500 • TrippScott.com