Not so long ago, our lobbying firm met with a fairly successful company in its sector: they wanted to improve their relationships with public authorities in order to forge more commercial partnerships. The objective (to create closer links with elected officials and the administration ino order to develop the company’s turnover) did not surprise us. It is actually one of the requests that are regularly addressed to us. But it is the means to be implemented that have been the subject of an exciting conversation!

In public affairs, think outside the box

Rather than doing almost identical and reproduce what their competitors do, we proposed to our interlocutors to get out of habits and explore, innovate, act a little differently. The professionalism remains the same, of course, and ethics is unchanged: only the path taken to arrive at destination is modified. Our recommendation was not conceptual, it was concrete, pragmatic, and the result of many years of experience in different European countries.

The objection was formulated very quickly: “But why do not others do it? Why was it not done before? “. In other words: “If the others did not do it, it was because they had a reason. And that reason had to be good. So if they have not done it, then I should not do it myself!

The best is not always behind us!

The Influences & Reputation’s approach is precisely to give its customers the best tools to achieve their objectives: it is not because the majority thinks or does something that the latter is necessarily sounded! Einstein and many others have long denied the existence of black holes. The majority, before Edison, felt that being able to light oneself at home other than by the sun and candles was impossible. Just as many did not conceive that one could ver become French president at the age of 40 without the support and strength of a party rooted in the political landscape. And Ludwig van Beethoven would not have become the great composer he is now if he had not innovated. If the others have not done it, it’s because there’s a good reason, so I do not have to do it myself

Being innovative has often enabled our society to move forward, to become more efficient (e.g. why should I try to improve a man’s sight with glasses if the others do not?). And this is also valid in public affairs and lobbying (e.g. why should I be the first to claim transparency if all the others do not?).

Moreover, in each sector, each professional seeks to stand out from his competitors by demonstrating his own added-value, that is what distinguishes him from the others. It is the difference in his favor that enables him to win. Even our interlocutors, in our conversation, put forward what their competitors did not do and what enabled them to stand out! Then, why should not they act with public authorities in a new and adapted way, differently from the others?

Symmetrically, always doing what the others do is counter-productive: the posture is that of the follower, not that of the pioneer or of the one who wants to win and achieve his objectives. While this suits some people and companies, it is certainly not the best way to improve its reputation and relations with public authorities. In a world where the mass of information in circulation is rising regularly and where everyone always has a good reason to communicate, which company will public authorities want to dialogue with: the one who replicatess, or the one who anticipates, goes further, is exploring new ways of working and contributing?

Dare to innovate and adapt to win

In matters of public affairs and lobbying, we are convinced that doing the same as the others, or not trying anything because the others have not done so, is in some cases very dangerous. This can close many doors, and thus reduces the ability of success. The ethical and professional framework remains the same (it is not a matter of dynamiting decades of practice either) but the tools and methods must be flexible. Our experience has demonstrated, and demonstrates again, that dialogue with governments can be done in many different ways.

Do not be afraid to innovate, anticipate, adapt: if we want to wait for others to do something before we do it in our turn, the we are at best stowaways (Mancour Olson’s theory), at worst we forget that the founders of each company did not wait for the others to do it: they dared, acted, built, adapted … and succeeded!

Let’s dare! Do not wait for others to move first … and win!

Ludovic Espitalier-Noël www.influences-reputation.com