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Government Affairs: Best Practices in Stakeholder Engagement

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Managing government relations and public affairs is a fascinating and challenging task. Just ask any public affairs specialist. But he or she will also tell you how satisfying it can be to know your efforts are making a real difference in your organization and industry.

That said, building trusted long-term relationships with government stakeholders and other policy influencers can also be time-consuming and downright difficult – especially in an ever-changing political landscape.

Here are 4 proven best practices for improving government relations and public affairs that will also make your day-to-day engagement efforts easier.

Government affairs best practice #1: Map and monitor government stakeholders

Public affairs and government relations teams meet a lot of government representatives and other policy shapers. Remembering everything about everyone – even as these individuals come, go, change titles and sometimes, stances on certain issues – can be difficult without the right tools. Understanding what influence these stakeholders may have over your organization’s strategic objectives can be even harder.

Knowing how all these key stakeholder are linked is just as important, as it tells you who weighs in the balance and who doesn’t. Failing to understanding these interconnected relationships can lead to a lot of wasted time and resources.

Stakeholder mapping is therefore a crucial first step to building a constructive relationship. (For more information on how stakeholder mapping tools can improve your stakeholder management, read this article >.)

The digital transformation means that most companies have long abandoned the old pen-on-paper approach. Initially, this transition was largely to emails and Excel spreadsheets. But these tools have some pretty debilitating shortcomings for managing stakeholder engagement. Today, most companies that take a systematic approach to shaping public opinion and government policies rely on software designed for managing public affairs and government relations.

Borealis stakeholder software for public affairs and government relations makes it easy to centralize, manage, and track your growing piles of stakeholder information and related engagement activities without changing the way you work. By keeping data always available to all team members with access rights, Borealis minimizes oversights, and information gaps to support your work processes. Its powerful reporting tools also enables you to share relevant data with management and demonstrate the value of your efforts.

CN continuously strives to be a good neighbor to the thousands of communities we operate in and through. At the heart of that effort is effective communication with our federal, state, and local stakeholders. For the last two years, Borealis has been a critical tool in tracking and amplifying our varied communications. From tracking one-on-one engagements to organizing and managing broad issues and developing smart communications to large and diverse, yet targeted groups, CN has found Borealis to be an essential tool.

David Woodruff - Assistant Vice-President U.S. Public and Government Affairs, CN

Government affairs best practice #2: Ensure the quality of your data

If knowing and understanding your key stakeholders is vital to efficiently building constructive government relations, then being known for consistently bringing up-to-date and reliable information to the table is the secret to maintaining them.

If you frequently attend events and meet new influencers, you’re probably constantly capturing important information to support your engagement strategies. Working with incomplete data is certainly frustrating, but sharing inaccurate information with key stakeholders is downright risky to your reputation.

Building long-term stakeholder relationships in the rail industry

CN is a Canadian Class I freight railway that works hard to be a good neighbor to stakeholders in thousands of communities. See how Borealis contributes to their goal of establishing and maintaining productive, long-term relationships with communities and governments. 

With Borealis, you no longer need to run the risk of manual data entry errors. You can just use the mobile app to snap a photo of an individual’s business card to create a new stakeholder in the system. This is just one of the many features in Borealis that minimize manual work to improve productivity and minimize errors.

What if that stakeholder already exists in Borealis but some key contact information has recently changed, such as the person’s title? Borealis will recognize and flag the duplicate, enabling you to keep your data clean and up-to-date, while at the same time retaining a history of changes over time. This is a great benefit for organizations as team members come and go.

Government affairs best practice #3: Protect sensitive information with data segregation

Poor data security can ruin a reputation. Given that some of the information you’re handling is highly sensitive, a big part of your role is to safeguard confidential information. With Borealis stakeholder software, you can limit access to stakeholder information on a need-to-know basis and build data segregation between teams, business units, contractors, and partners.

It takes more than a spreadsheet to properly manage stakeholder data

See why best practices advocate implementing a specialized information management system like Borealis software.

Government affairs best practice #4: Improve stakeholder communications

Let’s paint a picture. Yesterday was election night and new mayors have been elected in every city of your state. You want to reach out all new representatives simultaneously by email or letter to congratulate them. While it’s important to personalize your communications, you also want to minimize manual work. Ideally, you’d also like to start keeping track of all communications with these new stakeholders. Imagine if you could access all communications with a given individual with just one click?

Public and government affairs teams are constantly on the move and must be able to engage meaningfully with key stakeholders anytime, anywhere. The mobile app in Borealis lets you easily access a stakeholder’s record, enter new information and communicate with them in a variety of ways: SMS, email, social media… whatever works best for that individual. Everything you do will be automatically entered into Borealis, simultaneously keeping all other team members with access rights in the loop

Borealis software: fit for purpose & configurable

Need a highly configurable tool that will help ensure you’re targeting the right government stakeholders, reduce manual work, and enable team members to access data anytime, anywhere – all while keeping it safe?

Request a demo and see how Borealis can help you engage stakeholders, secure their acceptance of your project, and shape the regulations and policies that matter most to your organization!

About Borealis stakeholder engagement software

Borealis is an online stakeholder engagement software used by organizations around the world to improve all aspects of their environmental and social governance: Government Affairs and Public Relations, Land and Asset Management, Community Engagement and Social & Environmental Performance.

Get started with Borealis stakeholder engagement software today!