PR in Politics: An Evening with Mike Marshall
Mike Marshall started off the night by discussing the difference between public affairs and government relations and then the differences in lobbying and advocacy.
Public affairs and government relations are different even though they might be in the same office. Government relations is more of organization to government type of communication. While public affairs works with the public, the government, interest groups and the media.
Lobby and advocacy are in the same boat. Lobbying is any oral or written communication to high level execution or legislative branch official regarding the selection of federal officials or the formulation, modification, or adaption if federal legislation, regulations or unicatito, a form of advocacy. Advocacy is more focused on education. They work with research, gathering info, etc.
Advocacy people have to work to get connections. Knowing the legislators to be able to have connections and networks to use to your advantage, but not just knowing them it is also knowing their staff (aides, committee research, etc.).
Mike then talked about due diligence. Due diligence is used to throughly understand the issue at hand, meaning don't mix issues while meeting with politicians or members of cabinets.
He briefly talked about some skills he uses regularly and tactics that are used in politics. Sometimes members cut time in thirds so you need to have your main 3-4 bullet points. Knowing how to be brief and concise to get your point across is really important. Remember to present the other side of the issue. That way it shows you are not pushing for a really absurd idea, and shows that you are recognizing there is an posing view.
Building an alliance to be able to engage lawmakers already pro-your opposite. Shine a light on the stakeholders who could directly benefit that way it shows a larger number- in politics it is all about the numbers, because numbers translate into votes, which is how politicians get into/keep their positions and make their living. Consider "experts" or organizations in a particular area. That way you can show how your position is a great option.
On the relationship continuum that Mike talked about there are three basic stages a relationship can go through. He used the world of dating as an analogy to help make it easier to understand. With informal relationships you have cooperation. The informal stage is like a first date, where you might not care if one party fails, since you are not super attached yet. The next stage is semi-formal where you gain/have coordination. This is like dating exclusive (one can (shouldn't but might) fail as long as other work out. You are invested but not locked in. You are okay if it doesn't work out because even though you might be attached to their family you are not an intergral member yet. Then there is the formal stage where you gain/have collaboration. This is like being married. If one part/side fails or gives up, we all fail. THe picture above is a picture of the slide that demonstrates the continuum.
9 (of 20) factors that influence success (right to left)- if you don't have a history you might only form an informal relationship, you need support, look into your diverse robust group, you need to enter into the relationship equally with respect and trust, willingness to compromise, different levels of engagement, adaptablility (see pic for the rest). Keep in mind this is based on his experience and current job, so this was all just a narrative. If you talk to other people who do PR within politics you are going to get a different perspective.
What got him interested in his job?
He got his bachelors in business, his master's in arts, doctorate in higher education. He came in with no experience mixing public relations and politics. Mike used to work with admissions until he saw a relationship between admissions and government relations. PR in politics for an institution such as TCU is all about protect what we have while preserving our freedom and rights we have as a private institution.
How is it different when legislator is in session versus when its not?
From a state point it used to be slower, but now days there is almost always an issue going on to keep him busy.
Are you involved in the city ordinance on temporary hosting? h
He isn't really involved. TCU is trying to keep the relations with permanent Fort Worth relations friendly while supporting their students.
What do you think the top 3 skills for a position like this are?
Technical skills are important but soft skills are crucial (critical thinking, teamwork, implementing plans).