Research Outline

Strategic Communication with U.S. Policy-Makers


To understand and identify communication strategies targeting policy-makers and government leaders in Washington, DC.

Early Findings


  • SachsMedia argues that the biggest mistake companies make in their government relations strategies is not hiring "a communication firm with a seasoned public affairs practice." The media agency suggests that going blind could result in costly mistakes.
  • Five things identified as key to government relations are: intimate knowledge of the process and the players, adaptability, expertise in framing the issues, and digital expertise.
  • California Globe suggests that a successful government relations strategic plan "requires managing multiple component parts of an organization focused on advocating the interests of a company, labor union, or trade association." While having in-house lobbyists is one part of it, it may also require the work of contract lobbyists. This echos the argument made by SachsMedia regarding the need for a communication firm.
  • It is also pointed out that "interacting with the government means relying on a closed-door, tight network of professionals," posing challenges for newcomers. This once again highlights the importance of professionals with intimate knowledge of key players.
  • Three examples of effective government relations strategies are: 1) building and sustaining close relationships with elected officials through consistent communication, 2) managing engagement with officials and their staff, and 3) tracking mentions of key issues.
  • According to the Associate of Corporate Counsel (ACC), a government relations plan should consist of the following elements: 1) developing key messages, 2) identifying legislative targets, 3) tracking, 4) mounting a grassroots efforts, 5) establishing a method for giving money, and 6) establishing metric for measuring success.


The initial one-hour research has provided a brief overview of key components in establishing an effective communication strategy targeting policy-makers and officials, particularly at federal levels (Washington, DC). One of the most important aspects is the intimate knowledge of the process and key players, which may be obtained through working with an established communication firm and/or by developing a consistent relationship with officials and their staff. The next proposed steps will look into further details of the various components of effective strategies for government communication, particularly focusing on Washington, DC. Please note that communication strategies targeting government officials are often not as open as other types of communications. Thus, a particular "tactic" may not be found through research on public information. We will make up for this by providing information on key components of effective strategies and examples of uses.