Stephen Jones, Account Director

It's the economy, stupid! Rethinking GR in a post-COVID world

Today, we’re facing a political campaign during what is likely to be the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression.

In early March, the country planned for an election campaign focussed on a strong economy, low unemployment and growing surpluses.

Today, we’re facing a campaign during what is likely to be the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Quite simply, everything has changed, and this requires organisations to urgently rethink how they engage with government. For those that haven’t engaged in the past, now is the time to do so.

More than likely, policies from earlier in the year are on hold. At the same time, new policy will be developed with urgency and likely subject to limited scrutiny.

Now more than ever, take time to invest in a sound government relations strategy. The decisions made over the coming months will have longstanding ramifications for all organisations and the economy.

  • First, reshape your messaging to reflect a new post-COVID environment. It’s critical to build an economic and/or health narrative around your engagement. Equally important, focus on the role you can play in supporting New Zealand’s recovery.
  • Second, be solutions-oriented. Organisations are falling over each other to tell ministers and officials all about their problems and wanting help. Be different. Consider providing pragmatic and easy-to-implement solutions that will get the country, and economy, going again. Consider alternatives to address your issues, like through an industry body or with others in your sector. Collective action will increase chances of success.
  • Third, media must be a critical part of your government relations strategy. Politicians are avid media consumers and a quality news story will catch their attention, particularly if it resonates with voters. In other words, align your media strategy and your government relations strategy and achieve maximum impact.

Keep in mind that decision makers are overwhelmed and under enormous pressure right now. So, the chances of securing a meeting are low. Don’t let this jeopardise your government relations programme.

Write regularly, provide updates and use the opportunity to develop relationships with subject matter experts within agencies. These are the people who do the policy heavy lifting and decide the fate of our economy. Essentially, an investment of time here will always pay-off.

If you are thinking about how to engage with government during this time, we have expertise available to assist and can provide you with useful guidance and how to get you messaging to the right people.

Ways you can help communicate with the government

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