By Constance Campanella, President and CEO

That headline is not what you think it is.

It refers to a mantra that I often repeat when teaching about the art of state government affairs….”No Client, No Issue.”

To be candid, I learned the “No Client, No Issue” doctrine from another professional – Holly Hassett, then head of government affairs for Hershey Foods, many years ago. Never have I found or provided greater comfort in just four words.

What it means is, if you do not have a customer or client within your organization for the work you perform, then you have no business doing that work.

As SGR professionals, we are not “expected” to be business experts. But, the best SGR professionals do acquire a substantial depth of knowledge about their business operations over time. That knowledge enables them to identify new issues, “sell” them to internal audiences, create issue management campaigns and communicate effectively with public officials. Having foresight, great antennae, creativity and initiative is a mark of leadership.

However, if you can’t make the “sale” to your internal customers, on whom you depend for funds, issue information and other support, then consider these reasons.

1. The issue is not important to the business

2. They have other priorities

3. They are only observers of government–not participants

4. You just didn’t make the business case

Regardless of the reason, if the customer did not ask you to work on an issue or does not support work you offered, then they will not value your contributions– regardless of the outcome.

Yes, there are exceptions, but we cannot manage programs by exception. We have to be focused on our customers and deliver the most highly valued services and leadership possible.

So, before you embark on the new campaign, make sure that parade you are leading is actually marching behind you.

And remember…..No Client, No Issue.

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