How Government Relations and Public Affairs Work Together

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 Overview

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 Overview

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 working together

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 or by calling 609-393-7799.

What Happens During a Lame Duck Session in New Jersey?

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.

What is a lame duck session?

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.

Lame duck sessions in New Jersey

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.

What a State-Based Healthcare Program Really Means

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.

What exactly is state-based healthcare?

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. 

What does this mean for New Jersey?

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. 

Looking at other states

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. 

Possible challenges

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.

What’s the difference between public affairs and public relations?

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.

Public affairs versus public relations

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. 


Public affairs

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:

  • Lobbying on specific legislation
  • Providing information to stakeholders
  • Monitoring political activity
  • Advocating for the organization
  • Strategizing and consulting for the organization

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

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:

  • Creating campaigns around a client’s goal
  • Drafting press releases
  • Handling crises
  • Speech writing
  • Audience research
  • Media relations

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.  

August Cannabis Update

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.

How Can a New Jersey Lobbyist Help My Business?

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.

What is a lobbyist?

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.

What does a lobbyist do?

  • Persuade legislators
  • Petition the government
  • Communicate with members of Congress
  • Research and analyze legislation and its effects
  • Stay aware of all new and future regulatory proposals
  • Attend congressional hearings
  • Educate government officials on specific causes and topics
  • Change public opinion through advertising campaigns or by influencing ‘opinion leaders’

Do I need a lobbyist?

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.

Who hires lobbyists?

Nearly every interest group, institution, or business works with lobbyists in some capacity.

  • Energy companies
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Labor unions
  • Corporations
  • Colleges and universities
  • Religious institutions and churches
  • Charitable organizations
  • State, local or foreign governments
  • Environmental groups
  • Senior citizens organizations
  • Women’s groups

How much did interest groups spend on New Jersey lobbyists in 2018?

elec chart

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.

How to Find the Best Association Management Company in New Jersey

If you are looking for the best association management company in New Jersey, you should start by finding companies with a certified association executive (CAE) on staff. These individuals have the credentials CAE after their name and will offer you the highest level of service.

What makes a certified association executive different?

A person with the CAE certification has spent hundreds of hours perfecting his or her association management skills. Armed with the most current high-level knowledge on managing an association, he or she will utilize those skills to enhance the image and membership retention of your association.

Why does a CAE have the most current information?

The CAE certification must be renewed every three years. To be eligible for renewal, he or she must complete a minimum of 40 credits of association management related professional development. There is also an option to complete a minimum of 30 credits of association management development and 10 credits of qualifying leadership, authorship, or teaching. Either way, if you’re working with a CAE, you know you’re working with someone who has the highest level of knowledge in the association management field.

Who is eligible to become a CAE?

Becoming a CAE is a long-term endeavour. Prior to sitting for the exam, an individual must have five years of experience at a nonprofit organization or association management company. He or she must also have obtained a bachelor’s degree or completed an additional eight years of work experience. Then, he or she must pass the 200 multiple-choice question test in four hours or less.

The head of our association management division, Joe Simonetta, is a certified association executive, which is one of the reasons why we are the best association management company in New Jersey. Learn more about our association management services here or reach out to one of our experts here.

PSI Ranks Second out of New Jersey Lobbying Firms

Every year, New Jersey lobbying firms send their annual reports to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) to be publicly disclosed. The commission just released its annual analysis today. The ELEC gathers total expenditures and total receipts from lobbying efforts and their represented entities to provide oversight and ensure accountability in campaign and legislative finances. Public Strategies Impact is, once again, the second top multi-client lobbyist firm in New Jersey. PSI increased our lobbying receivables by $1.02 million (from $6.17 million to $7.18 million) and continues to prove effective for our clients. This growth has placed us even more strongly among the best lobbying firms in New Jersey. This honor only occurs because of loyal clients, friends, and hardworking and dedicated lobbyists and staff.

Overall, the total spending by lobbyists in New Jersey dropped 2.5 percent to $89.4 million. Even with the dip in spending, three sectors greatly increased their spending due to new legislation introduced by Governor Phil Murphy: offshore wind production, cannabis, and nuclear plant subsidies. Offshore wind production lobbying spending increased $613,015, cannabis lobbying spending increased $1.03 million, nuclear plant subsidy support decreased $671,114, and nuclear plant subsidy opposition increased $817,997.

As the political landscape continues to change it is important to have a New Jersey lobbyist firm with a diverse portfolio, varied connections, and experience in government positions. At PSI, we have many years of experience in not only public service but in the political arena. We have a diverse portfolio of clients who are seeing the great importance of our work as the landscape changes. As new marijuana legislation appears on the horizon and sports gambling legislation has already taken effect, there has never been more of a need for lobbyists in the Garden State.

As these changes continue to affect industry, government, and the public sector it is best to work with a New Jersey lobbyist firm with experience in all areas. Our areas of expertise include:

  • Arts and entertainment
  • Development
  • Cannabis
  • Energy and alternative energy
  • Environmental permitting
  • Financial services
  • Gaming
  • Healthcare
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Procurement
  • Information technology procurement
  • Real estate
  • Regulated professions
  • Telecommunications
  • Tourism
  • Transportation

If you’re looking for assistance with government relations, public affairs, or association management, please reach us via email at or via phone at (609) 393-7799.

2019 State of the State Recap

Yesterday at 2 p.m., Governor Phil Murphy delivered his first State of the State address just one day shy of his one-year anniversary of being in the statehouse. The state assembly chamber was packed with all key members of state government, including government officials, lawmakers, lobbyists, and other New Jersey leaders.

Before taking the traditional route of looking back at 2018 and discussing goals for 2019, Murphy spent a great deal of time discussing his findings from the recent corporate tax audit. Calling New Jersey’s corporate tax incentive program broken, he said the audit’s finding were alarming and displayed a stunning lack of controls and the workings of a rigged system to work for the favored few. Then, he discussed what could have been done with the billions of dollars the state handed out to corporations, including funding public schools, funding NJ Transit, meeting pension obligations, and providing property tax relief. Moving forward, Murphy wants to implement a new corporate tax incentive program that includes a cap on handouts, clear eligibility criteria, and will focus on investing in high wage and high growth sectors. He said it will take some time, but together we can fix it.

Looking back on 2018

When looking back on his first year in office, Governor Murphy said the state of the state is stronger and fairer than it was a year ago, which is an homage to his campaign slogan. He said he’s seen New Jerseyans struggle and has made, and will continue to make, a commitment to helping everyone succeed, ensuring our state’s families have better, brighter days. In the administration’s first year, they passed a total of 169 bills, which is more than any other administration in decades, and passed four dozen executive orders on job creation, environment, equal rights, and fair pay. Murphy listed off what he considered the administration’s greatest wins:

  • Creating more jobs
  • Building a better school system with more access to pre-k and tuition-free associate’s degrees
  • Increasing income tax fairness and property tax relief
  • Decreasing health insurances
  • Passing the strongest equal pay law
  • Creating a national model for earned sick leave
  • Funding planned parenthood
  • Safeguarding LGBTQ rights
  • Increasing Veteran access to medical marijuana
  • Fighting climate change by promoting clean energy alternatives and rejoining regional green gas initiatives
  • Passing common-sense gun safety laws
  • Bringing unions back to the table

Sights set on 2019

After discussing the broken tax incentives program and the successes of 2018, Governor Murphy wasted no time jumping into what he plans to accomplish in the coming year. He has ambitious goals that he promises to accomplish with the help of his administration, including:

  • NJ Transit – currently a broken system, Murphy aims to make it work again for the more than one million people who use it every day. He wants to increase passenger safety and customer service to make NJ Transit the turnaround story of New Jersey by the end of 2020. More information about funding will be discussed in the Budget Address.
  • $15 minimum wage – stating that the recent 25-cent wage increase is not enough, Murphy wants to give more than one million families a better chance of providing a successful life and making their way into the middle class. He said the $15 an hour minimum wage bill is making progress between him, Senate President Sweeney, and Speaker Coughlin.
  • Adult-use cannabis – the legalization of adult-use marijuana was a hot topic during Murphy’s campaign, but it has seen struggles when it comes to getting passed. The governor is still looking for low-level marijuana offenses to be removed from criminal records. Using other states as a model, cannabis will generate revenue and Murphy will allocate it to where New Jersey needs it most. He also promised fairness and equality to minority communities and business owners.
  • Gun control – while New Jersey has passed strict gun control legislation, Murphy wants to close loopholes in current legislation, regulate and track ammo sales, implement violence innovation strategies, and become a global leader in gun control.
  • Aging water infrastructure – some parts of New Jersey have a water infrastructure that was inherited over a century ago, causing elevated lead levels. Murphy wants to ensure clean water to every child and every family by updating our water infrastructure.
  • Voting – following the highest midterm election voter turnout in a generation, the governor wants to increase the right to vote. He wants to allow 17-year-olds to vote if they will be 18 by the election and give people on probation or parole the right to vote.
  • Drivers licenses – finally, Murphy wants to increase the number of licensed and insured drivers, following the model of 12 other states, and create lower car insurance premiums.

In closing, Governor Murphy announced the administration did what they said they were going to do in their first year. He promised to make New Jersey a state of innovation where young people want to start their careers, an affordable state where seniors want to grow old, and a state with top-notch education where families want to live and grow. Murphy’s next big public speech will be the budget address in six weeks.

2018 Midterm Elections: The Results

This year’s midterm elections were some of the most expensive and highly publicized in history. Many attribute this as a reaction to President Donald Trump’s policies throughout the first two years of his term, particularly in the areas of healthcare and immigration. So how did the elections play out in New Jersey as well as the rest of the United States? Here are breakdowns of each election, including flips, flops, and everything in between:


There were 35 races in the senate election, and at this time this article was written, 32 of them have been called. All the seats projected to go democrat, including Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and West Virginia, did just that. Tennessee and Texas both remain republican. Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota flipped to republican while Nevada flipped to democrat. Overall, even without all the senate races being called, Republicans will continue to hold majority, currently sitting at 51 republicans to 46 democrats.


A total of 26 house seats flipped democrat so far, with 417 of 435 races being called. All of the districts expected to vote democrat and republican for the most part did, but there were a few surprises along the way. Oklahoma’s fifth district, which many thought would likely remain republican, flipped to democrat. The same situation happened in New York’s 11th district and South Carolina’s first district – both expected to lean republican but flipped to democrat. Even without all the elections being called, the house majority has flipped to democrat with 219 dems to 193 republicans.


There were 36 governor races in this year’s midterm elections. For the most part, everything went as expected, with the exception of Kansas, which many thought would stay red. Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, Maine, Nevada, and Wisconsin flipped from republican to democrat. However, many democrats were hoping to secure Florida and Georgia, but Florida was called red and Georgia looks like it will be the same. With 34 of 36 races being called, there are 23 democratic governors and 25 republican governors.

New Jersey

The blue wave definitely hit in New Jersey’s midterm elections. In the Senate vote, incumbent Democrat Bob Menendez, who was projected to win reelection, defeated Republican pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin. Menendez held nearly a 10 percent lead against Hugin, and the race was called by several news organizations less than an hour after the polls closed.

In New Jersey’s House of Representatives, the races were either huge landslides or very tight – no in between.

  • District 1: incumbent Democrat Donald Norcross defeated Republican Paul Dilks, 63 percent to 34 percent of the vote
  • District 2: flipped from republican to democratic district, electing Jeff Van Drew with 52 percent of the vote over Seth Grossman with 46 percent
  • District 3: one of the most publicized races, it’s still too close to call at the time of this article. Republican Tom MacArthur currently has 49.8 percent of the vote and Democrat Andy Kim has 48.9 percent with 99 percent of the precincts reporting
  • District 4: the only district with a republican victor, incumbent Chris Smith defeated Democrat Joshua Welle, 56 percent to 43 percent respectively
  • District 5: another incumbent victory, Democrat Josh Gottheimer received 55.2 percent of the vote to defeat Republican challenger John McCann with 43.5 percent
  • District 6: Democrat Frank Pallone, Jr., incumbent, defeated Republican Richard Pezzullo, 62.7 percent to 37.3 percent
  • District 7: another district the flipped from red to blue, Democrat Tom Malinowski received 50.3 percent of the vote to defeat incumbent Republican Leonard Lance, who received 48.2 percent of the vote
  • District 8: remained blue, with incumbent Democrat Albio Sires, who received nearly 78 percent of the vote, easily defeating Republican John Muniz
  • District 9: another large disparity, Democrat Bill Pascrell, Jr. was reelected after defeating Republican Eric Fisher, 70 percent to 29 percent of the vote respectively
  • District 10: the biggest slide landslide victory, Democratic incumbent Donald Payne, Jr. received a whopping 87 percent of the vote to defeat Republican challenger Aha Khan
  • District 11: the final district to flip (and one democrats considered very important to secure), Democrat Mikie Sherrill became the second woman to represent New Jersey in Congress after receiving 56 percent of the vote to defeat Republican Jey Webber
  • District 12: Democratic incumbent Bonnie Watson Coleman received 68.3 percent of the vote to defeat Republican Daryl Kipnis, who received 32 percent of the vote

Whether you’re a democrat or republican, you have to be happy that regardless of how bad the weather was yesterday, New Jersey saw one of the largest turnouts for a midterm election in our state’s history. That says a lot for the future of the Garden State.

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