Peter Seemann

Peter is the Principal & Senior Consultant at Grassroots Public Affairs and is based in Toronto. Peter can be contacted at peter@grassrootspa.ca.

As we begin the first quarter of 2021, with lockdowns in place and government struggling to combat a virus that just doesn’t want to go away, it may be challenging to stay optimistic. To say the recent holidays were abnormal would be understatement, and here we are, staring down the runway of a New Year with the impacts of COVID-19 still the primary focus on everyone’s mind.

Whether you feel ready or not, there is work to be done with your organization’s advocacy and government relations plans for the coming year. The pandemic has changed the playbook on how we move forward, so here are some opportunities to keep in mind:

Get your plans in order and manage expectations for the first quarter.

This winter is going to be challenging as government at all levels remain focused on dealing with the pandemic. The continued inability for us to do business face-to-face, meet socially at events, or look forward to the annual winter getaway you normally take, will make the cold, dark months of January, February and March particularly challenging this year.  Yet, things will eventually start to improve when the snow melts, so now is a great time to review your advocacy plans for the entire year.

At Grassroots we are taking time to re-evaluate the strategies our clients are using to engage government in a very different environment. Last year we were forced to adjust on the fly, not knowing what the next month or two would bring. We now know that communicating with government is likely forever impacted by the pandemic. This is a good opportunity to review your internal digital systems, marketing materials, and the overall tone of how your message may be received by government and other outside stakeholders, given the times we are in.

Smile, you’re on camera! Meetings are here to stay.

Understanding how to properly utilize video communications is now a must. Mastering it and using it to its full advantage may require an investment of time and money, but we believe this will pay off. Since the pandemic hit last spring, we at Grassroots have helped clients with many different projects, including livestream video events, and we are learning more and more about the do’s and don’ts of virtual communications. Throughout the recent holidays I saw some very creative seasonal greetings on social media. High quality professionally produced videos will help your message stand out.

Videos can be easily filmed and uploaded via smart phone, but that isn’t always the best approach. There are many great videographers and production experts out there who can turn a good message into a fantastic message.  At Grassroots we’ve had opportunities to work with several experts in the field that have helped us deliver enhanced value to our clients.

Schedule time to check in with people regularly.

As we focus on project objectives and deadlines, it is important to remember that every person we come in contact with is dealing with their own unique challenges related to the changes in lifestyle forced upon us. From staff and colleagues, to clients, to people working within government – everyone has experienced some level of disruption in the past 12 months. I find that regular check-in calls go a long way to strengthen relationships. While virtual meetings on Zoom have become common, old-fashioned phone calls seem to work best for check-ins like this, as people may not want to be seen when they aren’t feeling 100%. Make time to schedule check-in calls for the people that are important to you and your business.

Grassroots remains committed to supporting our clients through the challenging year ahead.  By thinking creatively together, we can ensure advocacy messages are heard by the right people, within the right level of government.

Happy New Year from all of us at Grassroots – here’s to health, happiness and success for you and your business in 2021!

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