A little over a year ago, our world’s way of life shifted. We experienced changes in the way we manage our homes, interact with our friends, and do business. While the government affairs industry is truly fortunate that we could pivot to telework and virtual communications, the transition was certainly not seamless given the relational nature of the business.
Still, with some investment in technology and a little creative thinking, the Ridge Policy Group has been able to serve our clients effectively. We’ve been able to impact state and federal policies almost entirely from remote work settings. This has included remaining engaged with policymakers and providing access to information and funding.
In addition to continuing interactions with Congressional staff and facilitating introductory meetings with the new Biden Administration, we have led virtual advocacy “fly-ins” on Capitol Hill and have managed virtual Congressional briefings. We have set up meetings with members of Congress and their staffs almost daily through virtual platforms.
We’ve leveraged the ability to participate in events that were previously cost-prohibitive due to travel and facilitated conference presentations by clients who would not have otherwise been able to attend. We have leveraged social media and created legislative action centers. There are advantages to this new approach to business.
Working closely with the disability community, we have routinely facilitated Congressional advocacy Hill days, otherwise known as “fly-ins,” for organizations leading autism and brain injury policy efforts. This year, with a little extra planning and coordination of various conference call lines and zoom meeting rooms, the Ridge Policy Group executed a large scale virtual “fly-in,” connecting stakeholders around the country, many who had not previously been able to attend the annual trip to Washington DC.
Though nothing replicates an in-person meeting, the ability for Members to connect directly with their constituents was energizing and inspiring. The number of participants doubled, almost entirely from new attendees, eager to meet with their elected officials and share their stories. We are still seeing the positive impacts of the advocacy day and many have asked if we will include virtual options to meet with lawmakers in the future.
This seems to be the question of the day. As Americans continue to become vaccinated and the world slowly opens back up, how much of what we learned during the pandemic will stick around? Will some of the elements from our “new” way of doing business just become second nature? There are certainly benefits to remote meetings, as we learned from our advocacy day. Still, I think many individuals are longing for a time when they can sit in the same room as the person they are meeting with, shake their hands “hello.”
I am grateful to work for a firm whose culture inspires creative thinking and adaptation. Not all lobbying firms in DC or Harrisburg were as creative, and I know our clients appreciate this approach. We bring new opportunities for engagement to their organizations. As we move into the next transition and it remains unclear what form “business as usual” will take, I am confident that we will continue to bring solutions and impact to the partners that we work with whether in-person, virtual, or a little bit of both.
This post was written for Ridge Policy Group, a top government affairs firm, by Rebeccah Wolfkiel. Rebeccah is the Director of Federal Affairs and leads our government and public affairs efforts on behalf of clients.