Government relations and public affairs are very similar. They have many overlapping characteristics but also offer some different services that could help your organization. These two services working together can create impactful results on your organization as a whole.
Government relations is the process of influencing public policy on a local, state, national, and even global scale. The goal of government relations is to persuade government officials to change or maintain a policy, usually one that fits the needs of your organization. An organization can hire government relations experts to use their relationships with key decision makers to push the organization’s agenda forward.
Public affairs involves more than just the government. It’s a service that helps an organization interact with legislators, interest groups, and the media. Public affairs is more external than government relations. It deals more broadly with public policy issues and works to find solutions to problems. Public affairs specialists act as a liaison between an organization and the media, community, and government.
Government relations and public affairs services can often come from the same team. One of the core pillars in public affairs is government relations. A team of experts can craft an effective strategy, which defines your organization’s issues, identifies important legislation, and uses the relationships with decision makers and the community to achieve positive results for an organization. Think of government relations and public affairs like a two-step process. When legislation is impacting an organization, government relations may be a necessary aid and then public affairs would be needed to communicate with stakeholders, the media, and the public on the issue. On the reverse side, if a community presents an issue, a public affairs team must find a solution and may interact with government to persuade a decision in favor of the organization’s agenda.
The team of experts at Public Strategies Impact in Trenton, New Jersey can benefit your organization on all fronts. Government relations and public affairs are just a few of the ways that Public Strategies Impact can achieve results for your organization. If you could benefit from these services, we’d love to discuss the possibilities with you. Reach out to us via email at email@example.com or by calling 609-393-7799.
If you’ve never heard of a lame duck when it comes to government, think of it this way. A politician or elected official is considered a lame duck when they are not considering reelection, or their successor is already elected, and they are waiting for their term to end. U.S. presidents in their second and final terms are considered lame ducks, as well as Congress members who announce they’re retiring.
There are positives and negatives to being a lame duck. Many say that lame duck officials have less power because they don’t have the ability to negotiate and offer favors. They also do not have as much dealmaking power since other officials know they are not coming back. On the positive side, these lame duck officials no longer have to appease the voters. They have nothing to lose when it comes to voting on issues they’re passionate about. So lame ducks at the end of their term tend to vote for what they believe in on the more controversial issues.
The term “lame duck session” often gets thrown around. The official definition of a lame duck session in Congress is when Congress reconvenes in an even-numbered year following the November general elections to consider various items of business. Some of the law makers in this session will not be returning to the next Congress, so they are considered lame ducks participating in a lame duck session. When it comes to Congress, the lame duck session can be significant because they use this time to consider important votes that they may not have had time for before.
Most recently, New Jersey has been planning on making moves toward marijuana legalization during the lame duck period that stretches from early November to early January. Right now, New Jersey lawmakers are faced with two options: vote on a proposed law to make recreational marijuana legal or place a referendum on the November 2020 ballot asking New Jersey voters to decide whether or not to legalize. In this case of a lame duck session, lawmakers are strategically waiting until this time to vote on controversial topics like marijuana legalization.
Stay on top of all Public Strategies Impact news, press releases, and media coverage on our News page.
New Jersey is among four other states who are making the move to give the state full control over its individual health insurance market. Back in June, Governor Murphy signed legislation that would set up state-based healthcare in New Jersey for 2021. Murphy said this shift will make healthcare more accessible, accountable, and responsive to consumers. It will also provide protection against any repeal or replacement of the Affordable Care Act from the federal government.
By definition, state-based healthcare (often referred to as state-based marketplace) means the state is responsible for performing all marketplace functions for both the individual marketing and the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). Consumers, small employers, and their employees apply for and enroll in coverage through their state’s marketplace website.
Currently, New Jersey uses the federal marketplace. By transitioning to a state-based exchange, the state will be able to set enrollment periods, access data that can be used to better regulate the market, and New Jersey will be able to operate an exchange that is tailored and efficient for New Jersey residents. A plan like this would benefit the hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but don’t have coverage through their jobs.
The new law will transfer the current federal exchange user fee (3.5 percent of premiums) to a 3.5 percent state-based exchange user fee. This added revenue for New Jersey will allow the state to dedicate funding toward outreach and enrollment efforts. Increased funding could improve healthcare accessibility and stability for New Jersey families.
Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Pennsylvania have all been seeking to run their own systems, and they see it as an opportunity to save money. For example, Nevada, which began this process two years ago, expects to save upwards of $8 million in the first year of the program and nearly $19 million by 2023.
New Jersey may face challenges when getting this new system up and running, including from. the technology it takes to do so and the New Jersey law that requires the state to integrate Medicaid enrollment into the system. But the larger challenge that consumers care most about is the cost. Major changes must be made in the exchange to reduce the cost for insurance. It’s crucial that the system run smoothly right off the bat when enrollment opens to avoid glitches and conflict.
Stay up-to-date on healthcare topics and more on Public Strategies Impact’s blog.
Public affairs and public relations are often confused, and the terms are interchangeable among those outside of the industry. There are many overlapping characteristics of both, but the big difference between the two are the overall goals. On the outside, public affairs and public relations sound the same, so how do you determine which service you need? Let’s take a look.
Both public affairs and public relations involve communicating with and building relationships with the public and implementing strategies and campaigns. When you look at the goals of each, this is where they’re very different.
By definition, public affairs is a term used to describe an organization’s relationship with stakeholders. These stakeholders could be politicians, civil servants, local communities, business groups, unions, etc. Public affairs has to do with matters that affect the public directly and is usually more political in nature than public relations. Public affairs professionals disseminate information to stakeholders to influence public policy and build support for the organization’s agenda.
Services that public affairs covers includes:
When to use a public affairs team?
If your organization has an agenda that could be affected by legislation or public policy or you have ideas for change in policy, a public affairs team would be a smart choice for you!
Public relations focuses on the connection between an organization and the public. It’s more closely related to marketing. However, instead of advertisements, public relations relies on building a positive image for an organization to gain trust, build relationships, and, as a result, reach their client’s goals. Public relations focuses on a specific target audience to execute strategic communications tactics.
Services that public relations covers include:
When to use a public relations team?
From the smallest business to a large corporation, public relations can be very beneficial in the success of an organization. PR has the power to create awareness and change public opinion about an organization. An organization may want a public relations team when they want to build more brand recognition, stay relevant with the changing times and compete with competitors.
Both public affairs and public relations utilize strong relationships to boost organizations forward, whether that’s advocating for certain policy or crafting the reputation of an organization. Public Strategies Impact in Trenton, New Jersey offers a full range of public affairs services that include public and media relations, community relations, crisis management, and more. Learn more about how Public Strategies Impact can help.
Over the past six months, cannabis legislation in New Jersey has been a hotly debated topic. Since the promise of Murphy’s campaign to legalize, the debates and negotiations have not stopped among legislators. Since our March update, a lot has changed.
As of May 2019, the hopes of recreational marijuana legalization in New Jersey went flat when Senate President Stephen Sweeney announced that he was ending efforts to pass the legal marijuana bill in the state legislature because there were not enough votes. Instead, it was proposed that lawmakers will ask the New Jersey voters in November 2020 to decide on marijuana legalization in the state. Sweeney also mentioned that lawmakers will be moving forward with bills to expand the medical marijuana program and expunge records of New Jersey residents with past convictions from possessing small amounts of marijuana.
By July, Governor Murphy signed a bill that overhauls New Jersey’s medical marijuana program. The law will add dozens of medical marijuana providers and will take steps to make the process of obtaining a medical marijuana card easier for patients. The new law features relaxed rules on how much patients can buy and how many times they must see a doctor before qualifying for the medical marijuana program. Before this bill, there were only six medical marijuana providers in the state, and as more and more patients obtained their medical cards, marijuana was in short supply across the state. Since then, New Jersey has been accepting applications for new medical dispensaries.
As for the bill to expunge marijuana-related records, in June, both the state Senate and Assembly passed a bill that would make changes. This bill would make clearing criminal records easier and would allow people to clear their records immediately. Governor Murphy still has yet to sign this bill into law. The opposition of this bill has been that it allows people to clear their record but does not do anything to stop marijuana arrests. If the bill is signed, anyone who is arrested would have to wait 18 months to apply for expungement.
Now in August, Murphy has announced that he’d like to take another shot this year at passing a legal marijuana bill. In response to that, Sweeney announced that he will not give up trying to pass the bill. The issue back in March was top lawmakers fell just a few votes short of what they needed to pass the bill. Top lawmakers believe that legalizing marijuana is important seeing as 34,500 New Jersey residents were arrested on marijuana-related charges in 2017 alone.
Do you own a company trying to break into the possible billion dollar industry in the State of New Jersey? PSI can help. For more than 30 years, PSI has represented the interests of their clients before both the executive and legislative branches of state government. Use their experience and know-how to help successfully advocate your business’s position before those who are responsible for making it happen.
You may know PSI as a top lobbying firm in Trenton, but do you know anything about the people who make up our team? We asked each of our partners and associates to answer some fun questions, so you can get to know them better. Check it out below:
Hometown: Bernardsville, N.J.
Fun-Fact: Appointed in 1982 by Governor Thomas Kean, I was the youngest New Jersey Department of Labor Commissioner at age 29
Awards: “Good Guy” Award, Women’s Political Caucus of New Jersey; PolitickerNJ Power List; NJBIZ Power List; Eagle Award, New Jersey Alliance for Action
Education: Ohio University, cum laude
Favorite Food: Cheeseburgers
Hobbies: Golf, boating, and restoring old vehicles
Hometown: Teaneck, but currently living in Manasquan, N.J.
Fun-Fact: During college, I had my first full-time campaign job as field organizer for Massachusetts Governor Mike Dukakis’s 1988 Presidential National Campaign. I covered six states, starting in the early primary of New Hampshire and ending on Election Day in Ohio.
Awards: PolitickerNJ Power List since its inception; appointed by two governors to the Brookdale Community College Board of Trustees and the New Jersey Building Authority
Education: Clark University, bachelor’s degree in government; Villanova University, master’s degree in political science
Favorite Food: Clifton’s famous Rut’s Hut’s “Ripper” Hot Dog
Hobbies: Politics, cooking, drinking coffee, traveling, swimming, and playing Skee Ball with my daughter
Hometown: New Hope, Pa.
Fun-Fact: I was the youngest Executive Director of the New Jersey Conference of Mayors at age 26
Awards: Association Executive of the Year, 1991 New Jersey Society of Association Executive
Education: Mount Saint Mary’s College, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelors of Science
Favorite Food: Pasta of any kind
Hobbies: Golf, boating, travel, and cooking
Hometown: Trenton, currently living in Newtown, Pa.
Fun-Fact: When I was 13 years old, I scored 51 points in a basketball game. I also enjoy playing golf and had two hole-in-ones.
Education: Trenton State College, bachelor’s degree in political science/public administration
Favorite Food: Most food items that begin with the letter “P”, such as pizza, pasta, and polenta
Hobbies: Golf, attending car shows, watching college football, and vacationing with the family
Hometown: Union, N.J.
Fun-Fact: I worked for the first elected County Executive in Essex County. During that time, I met my husband who was working for Senator Bill Bradley.
Awards: Dean A. Gallo Award for Distinguished Legislative Leadership, Hemophilia Association of New Jersey; New Jersey Women’s Power List; Vlunter Services Award, D.A.R.E New Jersey
Education: Douglass College, Rutgers University, magna cum laude
Favorite Food: Eggplant parmigiana
Hobbies: Reading anytime anywhere, but especially on the beach!
Hometown: Robbinsville, N.J.
Fun-Fact: I am an Eagles season ticket holder
Awards: Distinguished Service Award, New Jersey Society of Municipal Engineers; Golden Sneaker Award, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
Education: Rutgers University, MBA in finance; Rutgers University, bachelor’s degree in political science; Eagleton Institute of Politics, Associate
Favorite Food: Steak and potatoes
Hobbies: Coaching youth sports, golf, and Golden Dome softball league
Hometown: Sea Girt, N.J.
Fun-Fact: I served as a member of the Rules Committee at the Democratic National Convention
Interests: Serving on the Advisory Board of the New Jersey New Leaders Council and as Chairman of the New Jersey Educational Facilities Authority
Education: Rutgers University, Bachelor of Science; Rutgers University, master’s degree in labor and employment relations
Favorite Food: Chocolate chip cookies
Hobbies: Spending time with my family and jogging at the Jersey Shore
Hometown: Syracuse, N.Y.
Fun-Fact: I love Hilton Head Island in South Carolina
Awards: Governor’s Proclamation for Excellence in Government, Governor’s Award for Management Improvement, Ellis Island Preservation Commission Award
Education: LeMoyne College, bachelor’s degree in labor relations; United States Air Force Electronics School
Favorite Food: Chocolate chip cookies
Hobbies: Travel, golf, and the gym
Hometown: Robbinsville, N.J.
Fun-Fact: I was the off-stage announcer who introduced Governor Christie Whitman at countless events, including the Inauguration, Inaugural Ball, and Capital Dome Rededication
Awards: Winner in PolitickerNJ’s Winner & Losers Feature, noted to have “mastered the inside game”
Education: Syracuse University, bachelor’s degree in political science
Favorite Food: De Lorenzo’s tomato pies
Hobbies: Anything with my two children and following Syracuse basketball, football and lacrosse
Hometown: Voorhees, N.J.
Fun Fact: My father, H. Donald Stewart, was elected to the New Jersey Assembly from 1972 to 1982. He represented the third legislative district of Cumberland, Salem, and Gloucester Counties.
Awards: Father of the Year, presented by my three children Emily, Ryan, and Alexandra
Education: Villanova University
Favorite Food: Cheesesteaks
Hobbies: Going to sporting events with my family and summers at the Jersey Shore
Do you have anything in common with any of our partners or associates? Let us know. Want to learn more about each of our team members? Check out our team page. If you’re interested in learning more about how we’ve become a top lobbying firm in Trenton, check out this page.
In New Jersey, businesses across a wide variety of industries use lobbying services every year with the goal of influencing legislation, regulation, and the enforcement of government decisions. With vast connections, lobbyists have the ability to influence key decision-makers and push agenda forward on behalf of the business they’re working for. Each year, more and more money is being spent on lobbying services. See the top five industries that need lobbying in New Jersey:
The pharmaceutical and health products industry includes drug manufacturers and sellers of medical products and nutritional and dietary supplements. The main goals of this industry are to resist government-run health care and encourage a faster approval process for drugs and medical products.
This includes health, property, and car insurance companies as well as agents and brokers. In recent years, health insurance companies have become increasingly involved in the legislative process, hoping to influence new regulations.
Since Governor Phil Murphy was elected, the push for medical marijuana expansion and the legalization of recreational marijuana has become a hot topic. In fact, over the last year lobbying on the subject has increased by more than 300 percent. Over a million dollars was spent on lobbying efforts in 2018 with projections to see even more in 2019.
This includes small businesses, pro-business and international trade associations, and chambers of commerce. Business associations are mostly concerned about labor regulations, intellectual property, product safety and taxes, and civil justice system reform.
Energy companies make up a large chunk of the overall lobbying spending. They are mainly focused on promoting legislators with pro-energy ideas in fossil fuel production and commodity exploration and extraction.
Lobbying serves an important purpose in influencing decisions and allowing many voices to be heard that may otherwise be overlooked. Public Strategies Impact in Trenton, New Jersey offers lobbying services that can help your business. As government relations experts, Public Strategies Impact consistently achieves positive results for clients.
In the face of a crisis, is your organization prepared to deal with the issue before it grows? In this age of technology, it’s impossible to bury a scandal. The best thing to do in a bad situation is to have a solid crisis management plan to fall back on.
A crisis management plan is simply a document that outlines the processes an organization will use to respond to a critical situation that would negatively affect its reputation, ability to operate, or profitability. Creating a new document or optimizing a previous plan is beneficial for every organization. There are a few key pieces to a crisis management plan that organizations should have in order to be successful in handling a crisis or media nightmare.
Get your team together to brainstorm any potential issues that could cause a stir. Write down all of these ideas and create steps to take for each scenario. Perhaps a small change in your procedures could prevent a crisis.
When a crisis occurs, tensions and nerves are running high. Instead of panicking and assigning roles on a whim, preset roles ahead of time. This will allow those assigned people to prepare themselves completely for any situation. Common roles to assign:
In the heat of the moment, a detailed section of your plan with resources your employees can easily refer to will be extremely beneficial. These resources can be anything that is helpful to your business. For example, timelines, log in credentials, and specific processes.
Frantically searching for contact information in a time of need is not a good look for an organization. Having a thorough list of contacts in your plan will erase the stress of finding the correct contact in a timely manner. At a minimum, your contacts should include:
Communication is key in the midst of a crisis. Keeping your team, employees, and stakeholders in the loop is extremely important to prevent loss of revenue and reputation. The difficult part of communicating is getting that material approved quickly. You should have strategies in place beforehand, so creating communications materials is simple and can go through the process of getting approved as fast as possible.
During a crisis, your team should not be wondering what the next step is going to be. From your scenario brainstorming session, create checklists for everything. It’s impossible to predict the future, so make these checklists as flexible as possible to ensure you’re hitting every possible point. Each task in a checklist should be assigned to a person so they know exactly what they must do.
Putting out the fire before it grows is the goal of a detailed crisis management plan. You may not think your organization is vulnerable to crises, but if it were to happen one day it is best to be prepared. Need help creating a plan? Public Strategies Impact offers crisis management services to develop a crisis plan and train your team for the media. We can also be the correspondent on your behalf. Find out more about PSI’s crisis management services here.
As a firm who has been around for more than 30 years, we have gained team members from a wide-range of industries, backgrounds, and areas of government. That is why we are lucky to be able to say PSI specializes in so many different areas. Even though most of our partners specialize in more than one industry, here are their top areas of expertise:
While Managing Partner Roger Bodman is an expert in many different areas, transportation is his specialty. He served as the chairman of New Jersey Transit and the State Commissioner of Transportation under former Governor Tom Kean, meaning he was the chief advisor to the governor on all transportation matters in the state.
With a career spanning more than 25 years, Senior Partner Bill Maer has developed expertise in the areas of law and justice, gaming, and pharmaceuticals. He is chief spokesperson for the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office and served on Governor Phil Murphy’s 2018 Law and Justice Transition Team.
Joseph Simonetta has many decades of experience in association management and political advocacy. He served as chair of the Advocacy Committee of the American Institute of Architects IgCC Task Force and currently chairs the Advocacy Subcommittee, creating strategy for the AIA’s state and local chapters. He also specializes in healthcare, professional services, arts, hospitality, and tourism.
PSI Partner Joe DeSanctis has more than 25 years advocating for a diverse client base, but his specialties lie in energy, environment, utilities, and local government outreach. He has experience siting natural gas pipelines and other energy-related projects throughout the state and acquiring state and local permits in a timely manner.
A member of our team for more than 25 years, Tracie DeSarno specializes in healthcare, banking, entertainment, and telecommunications. She has represented clients in these industries and beyond on major legislative initiatives and served on Governor Phil Murphy’s 2018 Healthcare Transition Committee.
In addition to serving as an executive in our association management division, Matt Halpin specializes in finance, real estate, energy, and more. Having previously worked with the NJ Chamber, he is well-versed in broad-based issues, including economic development, international trade, and corporate taxation. Matt also serves corporate clients in managing the public affairs components of projects.
Josh Hodes, partner, is an expert in education, energy, entertainment, sports, and redevelopment. He was appointed to the New Jersey Educational Facilities Authority, where he currently serves as chair, and serves as an advisory board member to the New Leaders Council of New Jersey.
With over 30 years of service in the public sector, Ed Mount has extensive experience and expertise in IT, procurement, and state government purchasing. He was on the New Jersey Information Resources Management Commission, the Office of Information Technology Governing Board, and the New Jersey Information Technology Leadership team.
Joining our team last year, John Holub brings specialties in retail, pharmacy, chain restaurants, and more. He serves as president and CEO of the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, executive director of the Pennsylvania Retailers’ Association, and executive director of the New Jersey Council of Chain Drug Stores. He represents more than 3,900 stores as the retail chief lobbyist.
PSI Associate Patrick Stewart worked for the Assembly Republican Majority office staffing assembly committees, including the budget, consumer affairs, regulated professions, and labor committees. He has developed an expertise in regulated professions, healthcare, association management, and insurance and labor.
For a more complete overview of each of our team members, including their experiences and PSI specialties, please visit our team page.
You probably have heard of lobbying, and you may even have heard about it in your industry. Chances are highly likely that some form of lobbying has been affecting you, your business, and your industry. Here, we lay out what you need to know and how a New Jersey lobbyist can help your business.
Each state defines lobbyists in different ways but simply put, a lobbyist is a person who receives compensation to educate, advocate, influence, and promote or oppose an interest group’s opinions or ideas in front of executive branch officials, legislators, and the public.
Everyone is affected by lobbying, positively or negatively. Both sides to any argument can and do hire lobbyists. This is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that guarantees the right to free speech, assembly, and petition.
Having a lobbyist in your corner can help your business grow, gain clients, win public approval, and acquire government contracts or benefits.
Nearly every interest group, institution, or business works with lobbyists in some capacity.
The above chart was provided by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commision (ELEC) in their annual report of lobbying spending in New Jersey. This chart highlights the strength of spending within each industry.
Whether you are the head of an energy company or part of a citizens group looking to make change, hiring a New Jersey lobbyist is the best method to bring your interests to the forefront of public and government awareness.
If you work with PSI, we can develop comprehensive strategies for your interests, advocate on your behalf, voice your opinions in front of key decision makers, and help grow your business. Contact us today.