I hear often about association state government relations programs that disappear in the months between June-January. They do not really disappear of course, but as far as the members are concerned, they might. There is very little communications and sometimes the planning is perfunctory.
So, I decided to imagine for you an state government relations professional who takes full advantage of the “quiet season.” Here is what “she” reports.
- I told my State Government Relations (SGR) committee when I planned to attend a Groups meeting. I described briefly my plans for each meeting. During the meeting, I emailed highlights or key information I heard. After the meeting I offered a brief report via email and a longer one on a conference call. That reinforced that Groups meetings were not “junkets” but an integral part of my job.
- I looked at the states in which we had the most troublesome legislation this past session and matched key legislators, Governors and Attorneys General to the 2014 election landscape. I prepared a Top Races to Watch for my association and sent that to my SGR committee. We do not have a PAC, but that does not mean I’m not influential.
- I scheduled one SGR Committee call each month — September, October, November & December. Though legislative activity is light, it is not absent and I kept my committee focused on the key issues we expect to be fighting again come January. And, the calls reminded them that I’m a key part of how they support their companies.
- I called each of my SGR committee members and sought their advice about the SGR program, priority issues and what we could do better.
- I worked on improving one career skill and one personal skill.
- I interviewed fellow staff in my association who deal with other arenas – like federal. I asked them what they see coming down the pike. If there is a state component, I offer to help. We are all supporting our industry – I try to break down barriers.
- I take a very close look at our State Legislative Monitoring and other support services. I analyze what we are monitoring, what intelligence we received during session and what new issues may need to be added for 2015.
- I meet (in person or by phone) with each of our lobbyists and conduct a serious post-session analysis. I make decisions about who can be retained for next year.
- I drafted two 2015 SGR budgets for submission. One is a conservative budget with contingencies in case we hit a patch of seriously bad bills. The second is a “go bananas” budget that would make our association a serious contender on any issue we address. It is a stretch exercise that forces me to research best practices. What I actually submit will benefit from this process.
- I made a list of other associations with which I work regularly and made a point of having a serious discussion with my counterparts to discuss 2015 and their priorities.
- Finally – I take a vacation. This “quiet season” is hard work.