Merritt Group Blog

How to Make a Splash in the Federal Space Without Wading into Political Controversy

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A challenge that we often run into in MG’s Government Practice is how to effectively sail the seas in this controversial political climate to help our clients to make a splash without rocking the boat. The seas are rough and it seems easier to just stay out of the water completely.

It’s understandable that some companies avoid policy talk altogether because they feel like it eliminates risk and therefore protects their brand. If you don’t touch controversy you’re better off, right?

Yes and no.

We often counsel our clients that it is possible to discuss policy that is pertinent and important to their business…without diving into controversial waters. While it doesn’t make sense to share commentary about every tweet and announcement that the current administration sends out, companies should not entirely avoid discussing the issues that are important to them.

State of the Union

As an example, President Trump’s recent State of The Union speech was a huge focal point for everyone in the government space. With so many eyes on the broadcast itself or the transcript afterwards, this presented a huge opportunity to hook into something that people were paying attention to, in order to send our clients’ messages out into the space effectively and appropriately.

While we would not suggest sharing commentary about “hot button” issues like immigration, we did suggest that our clients consider discussing infrastructure.

President Trump made his official infrastructure announcement on Monday, February 12, 2018. As there has been little to no discussion around cybersecurity considerations in this announcement or in the State of The Union, something that many of our clients care about deeply, we suggested that they discuss “Why Cyber Should Be Included In Our National Infrastructure Discourse.”

This way, we’re still advising timely commentary, but staying away from anything the President directly says or other issues that may prove divisive in today’s political climate.

Cybersecurity Executive Order

While it seems risky to dip into these policy waters, our team was closely tracking all tech-related executive orders and policy announcements in 2017, patiently waiting for the right moment to dive into this conversation. In May 2017, this moment came by way of the Cybersecurity Executive Order.

A strengthened national cyber infrastructure is something that matters to all of our clients, as well as informed citizens. Knowing that this executive order was going to be signed, we prepared statements, media lists, and pitches that were ready to be sent out at a moment’s notice. When that moment hit, we engaged with the media and secured some strong media interviews and articles for many of our clients.

Not everything the President or Congress does and says should be seen as a moment for commentary, but strategic planning and preparation can make a big splash in seemingly controversial seas, without rocking the boat and drawing negative attention to your company.

Want advice on how to properly make a splash in controversial times? Contact Merritt Group today, and let's start a conversation!

Topics: content marketing government public relations 2018