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5 Tips for Planning a Flawless Executive Visit with Government Leaders

Executive visits with government leaders and influencers are one of the most valuable ways to reduce risks and enhance opportunities from government activity.  They build mutual understanding of the rule maker’s justification for regulations, laws, and legislation, as well as the impact those decisions are having or could have on an organization and its mission — often resulting in new ideas or even course corrections.  So when it comes to arranging and managing these important visits, how can you get the most out of every minute you have dedicated for them?  Poligage has developed five key tips for conducting productive executive visits with government stakeholders at any level with inputs from our global network of top experts and clients.  We enjoy helping executives and their teams with these visits by arranging prep sessions, contributing to high-value expert roundtables and meetings, drafting or reviewing political communication materials, or doing anything else that can make these important visits result in valuable advancements and outcomes for all involved.


1: Arrange meetings across the “urgency spectrum”

While you may need to prioritize engagement with stakeholders active on issues that are fast moving and facing more immediate action, it’s important to also factor in time with stakeholders involved in issues that are earlier in their activity cycle.  You don’t want your organization to develop a reputation for only showing up at the last minute when so much energy has already been spent to shape issues and processes.  Take the time to develop relationships with people at think tanks, councils, trade associations, and others who are developing the concepts today that may become laws and regulations tomorrow.  Make all of those time slots – breakfasts, cocktails, coffee, etc. – count!  Foster relationships beyond the meeting room. Schedule additional time for informal discussions, dinners, or coffee meetings. Establishing a personal rapport early can lead to a more favorable reception of your company’s concerns and positions down the line.


2: Offer options and solutions 

Policymaking is rarely easy, with many competing interests each wanting the spotlight and victories for their causes.  Showing up with a laundry list of your complaints or demands is not helpful.  Be ready to help government stakeholders address difficulties.  Whether during the meeting or soon afterward:

  • Communicate your red lines and flexibilities.  And remember that the “why” is more important as the “what” in terms of the policymaker being able to understand your point of view.
  • Respectfully offer to develop alternatives that may help the government stakeholder advance the issue
  • Provide contact information for the policymaker to use if they have any questions or wish to discuss ideas


3: Warm up those who could be friends or foes down the line

Executives visits often have to be spent proverbially dealing with pots that are already boiling over.  But as you think about the risks and opportunities you face as an organization, consider which audiences might be in position to have impact on you down the line.  Taking at least a little time during the visit to introduce and humanize your organization through an in-person meeting could pay great dividends in terms of mitigating future targeting or other nasty surprises, as well as laying the foundation for future coalitions or collaboration.  Don’t forget to be mindful of the objectives and drivers of the stakeholders you meet in this regard.  Stress any alignment and shared goals you have, ideally using the language that they have been using on those issues to demonstrate awareness and respect.


4: Please be prepared

Ensure you’re well-versed in the background, positions, and recent activities of the government leaders you will be meeting. Understand the current political climate, recent legislative changes, and any issues relevant to your industry. This preparation will not only enhance your credibility and contribute to developing trust, but it will also facilitate more meaningful conversations.  Also have a clear objective in mind for each meeting.  Sometimes this may be to get commitment on an activity, other times it may just be to deliver a key message.  Craft concise and compelling messages that communicate your positions and priorities. Ensure key points are well-rehearsed for effective delivery and also try to anticipate what the person you’re meeting with might request of you as well.


5: It doesn’t end when the meeting ends

You’ve had a good stretch of meetings, but this is just the first step to effective executive/government stakeholder engagement.  Send personalized thank-you notes at least via email if not physically to express appreciation for the time and insights shared during the meetings, as well as to capture any action items that you intend to follow-up on.  Include any additional information or clarifications that may have arisen during discussions. Establish a follow-up schedule internally to stay engaged. Consistent communication demonstrates your organization’s commitment and keeps your concerns on their radar.  Establishing and maintaining rapport can go a long way not only in producing better policy and regulatory outcomes for your organization, but it can also ward off news headline surprises if there is ever any future misunderstanding by having an open channel of communication.


Are you considering or planning an executive visit with government leaders or other stakeholders?  We enjoy helping executives and their teams with these visits by arranging prep sessions, contributing to high-value expert roundtables and meetings, drafting or reviewing political communication materials, and providing other services.  Schedule a complementary consultation for help building a plan for success. 

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