by Frank Farnel 
Head Global Government & Public Affairs at Tilray Brands Inc. | Member of Morgan Philips Life Sciences Advisory Board

Elyas Bozan, Managing Director Morgan Philips Germany & Global Practice Head Life Sciences:

“Read interesting insides from our expert Frank Farnel. The combination of skills from the world of politics and the business perspective is very rare. Companies don’t have specific programs for such roles like we have in other areas. Anyone who studies politics does not necessarily have Governmental Affairs in companies in mind. Awareness for the area should start at a university level. This would help to develop broadly the skills explained by Frank in the following article.

The right talent in government relations and public affairs not only forms the bridge between companies and politics. They are also largely responsible for wether or not some landmark laws are implemented for entire societies.“

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Government relations and public affairs (GR/PA) are related tools for organizations to achieve determined goals by interacting with the public, stakeholders, business world, policy makers and governments.

This article serves as an introduction to understanding how GR/PA professionals help organizations unlock success and growth in a constantly evolving environment.

In highly regulated industries or those with a significant public presence, prioritizing government relations and public affairs is paramount.

These departments arm companies with the tools and insights needed to shape the industry landscape in their favor, forging crucial connections with political leaders, decision-makers, influencers, and stakeholders at various levels of governments.

GR and PA departments provide companies with the tools and intelligence they need.

By leveraging these valuable connections and effectively communicating strategy and influence tactics, organizations can create a favorable environment , cultivate an excellent reputation, and gain a competitive edge.

To thrive in this landscape, organizations must build professional government relations and public affairs departments and seek guidance from skilled consultants.

These departments manage the relationship between the organization and government entities at various levels – local, state, federal, regional, and global.

Government relations involve lobbying to influence laws and regulations that impact the organization. Monitoring legislative and regulatory developments, aligning company strategy, and engaging with policymakers are all part of this crucial function.

On the other hand, public affairs encompass a broader scope, focusing on managing the organization´s image and fostering relationships with the public, stakeholders at the media. It involves strategic public relation campaigns, effective communication strategies, engagement with external stakeholders, and maintaining strong media relations.

Both government relations and public affairs aim to manage external relationships and reputation in ways that support objectives and mitigate risks.

Companies should communicate their impact on and commitment to fostering relationships and influencing policy decisions. This can be achieved by recognizing the importance of these departments at the board level.

The importance given to these departments depends on the company’s vision and objectives. However, embedding these functions in the board is an essential step towards achieving long-term success and making a significant impact.

Uncovering essential tools for success in Government Relations and Public Affairs

Lobbying, government relations, and public affairs are professions, just like marketing and human resources. They require a unique toolkit, specifically designed for different themes and policy timelines. These tools are no longer associated with influence trafficking.

There are three main categories of activities: active technology watch, government relations, and public affairs.

Active technology watch, also known as economic intelligence, is crucial. To effectively influence outcomes, you must be aware of the subject matter, regulations, legislative processes, and news from various media channels, including social media. A 360-degree understanding requires knowledge of historical and ongoing processes.

Government relations, also known as direct lobbying, involve all actions taken with public authorities or influencers. This includes preparing advocacy materials, arranging face-to-face or virtual meetings, and interactions via video or phone.

Public affairs, on the other hand, are a form of indirect lobbying shaping the market environment. Activities embrace institutional public relations, coalition-building, organizing public or institutional events, media relations, and more. These activities work in tandem to strengthen messages and support government relations efforts.

As government relations and public affairs share objectives, they are usually managed out of the same department. This department is essential for long-term success and impact.

Are the toolboxes of “influence professionals” different in each market?

No, they are not. Contrary to common misconceptions, the toolboxes used by these professionals are the same in all countries. Their origin can be traced back to Anglo-Saxon countries, particularly the United States, Canada, and England. The key to success lies in adapting these toolboxes to the culture and function of the markets they aim to influence.

The most successful professionals in this field have received training from or exposure to leading training centres in the United States, Canada, or the UK. Anglo-Saxon actors who have trained in their respective countries of operation have an advantage.

Many top academic institutions have established training centres for government relations and public affairs, aimed at empowering professionals in the field of influencing. Not only do these centres provide education tailored to the specific markets and regions where the universities are situated, but they also serve to meet the needs of the local and regional job markets.

The effectiveness of “North American style” lobbying is clearly demonstrated when it is culturally and functionally tailored. Recent setbacks faced by the French naval and military industry in the failed submarine sale to Australia are concrete evidence of the impact of these influence strategies.

There are however effective methods based on the Anglo-Saxon model that empower international companies to thrive in North America. Although this topic is beyond the scope of our present discussion, it holds great potential for expanding influence in the region.

Rest assured, the specialists at Morgan Philips can provide tailored recommendations in these areas.

Unlock Success in Government Relations and Public Affairs: Finding the Perfect Candidate

Building an efficient government relations and public affairs department starts with choosing the right professionals. What qualities should they possess?

It is not just about networking skills. To truly excel in this field, you need a strategic mindset, political savviness, cultural and business acumen, communication skills, lateral thinking, and creative problem-solving abilities. Thinking creatively and collaborating across disciplines are essential as well. And let us not forget the importance of having a global perspective to navigate diverse governments at all levels.

Mastering this unique blend of skills is what sets successful practitioners apart. They become invaluable aggregators, bringing together all necessary elements to drive impactful change. Finding these exceptional individuals can be a challenge. It is crucial to rely on recruitment specialists who understand the intricacies of government relations and public affairs when building your department.

Do not settle for anything less than the best. Choose candidates with expertise, experience, and diverse perspectives to shape political and public opinion and navigate complex regulatory environments. By selecting the right candidates who embody a “glocal” approach, you will gain a powerful advantage in the marketplace. Trust recruitment experts to help you find the rare and effective professionals who can propel your organization forward.

With suitable candidates and an initiative-taking approach, your organization can create momentum that shapes the market and guarantees long-term success. By adopting a “make it happen” mindset, your organization will participate in setting the political agenda. It will manage its brand reputation and grow its market share.

A government relations and public affairs department with skilled specialists is crucial for overall success.

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