In the midst of myriad emails in which I was explaining the minutiae of passing legislation (and how support or opposition is built and expressed), a colleague complained: “I don’t remember it being that complicated when the School House Rock video explained it.” We can only wish.
If you listen too long to Keith Olbermann or Rush Limbaugh, you may come to believe politics are important only as a tool for beating the tar out of those you don’t like.
No wonder most people are turned off to politics all together.
That’s a shame, because politics – like coalitioning(?) – is really important as the art of the possible: How do you assemble the right groups of stakeholders to identify, implement and sustain effective solutions to important problems.?
And when it comes to achieving success on issues or projects that are complex, large-scale or heavily regulated or legislatively affected, likely nothing happens without engaging in – or at least understanding how – the politics of getting things done.
That’s why I recently counseled a new PR professional looking to be successful in public policy communications to familiar with – and hopefully comfortable at – working with governmental relations.
Even in outcome-neutral public involvement programs, success as defined by the client and the community will rest in part on how well goals and issues are communicated to elected and regulatory officials who have to implement any recommendations.
There are lots of ways to gain familiarity with politics and with the unique pressures and motivations that drive public servants. But here are two great organizations and sources for becoming more adept at government affairs and using that skill appropriately:
Time spent with either of these two groups are likely to be more productive when it comes to politics than another minute spent with Keith and Rush.