By Constance Campanella, President and CEO
It is September and walks on the beautiful Cape May Point, New Jersey beaches are still terrific – warm, uncrowded and full of ocean/bay treasures like hermit crabs, Cape May diamonds and sea glass. Last weekend’s walk got me thinking about how successful state government relations (SGR) programs are like beaches.
While most would not consider sand to be hard, when those tiny grains become compacted on a beach they form a solid foundation that supports our weight and allows us to walk and run. One by one, inch by inch, the sand becomes hard and pretty much stable. That’s one part of the beach.
The other part is the loose, upper layer. That sand gives way under our feet, moves back and forth into the water with the tide and blows around in storms to build new dunes. We leave our footprints in that sand and mold it into castles that can stand tall and magnificent — albeit briefly.
As with beaches, for SGR programs– the hard layer – the substrate – is what we build over time. Solid relationships, great communications, internal buy-in, grasstops and roots, a mission built on business objectives, benchmarking and consistent delivery of respected messages comprise the base we work hard to build. One grain at a time — year after year – the foundation is established.
But, great SGR programs are not hard and rigid. They must have that loose, top layer too. They need flexibility, creativity and foresight to deal with the many changes that come at us year after year. We mold our resources and experience to deal with the challenges and opportunities of the day or the month, succeed, and then move on to the next one. Whether dealing with turnover, new issues, new Groups, new campaign restrictions or a giant opportunity like the federal stimulus package, great SGR programs refocus, plan, influence and build ever stronger foundations under every footprint.