Decoding their utility
Stakeholders (companies, associations, industry associations, etc.) are all part of relationship and communication networks. None of these players can increase its turnover, grow its business or achieve its goals in isolation. Moreover, these economic and social relations are part of a multitude of levels and structures. It can be, for example, a city, a region, a country of the European Union, an international authority, an industry federation, an informal network of contacts, etc. At each level and structure, stakeholders have to comply with many rules imposed on them by governments, whatever they are, and even if they disagree: complying with laws, decrees, ordonnances, decisions of various authorities, European regulations, directives, orders, is mandatory, not an option.
If you are a business or an industry association, public affairs are consequently what is implemented to support the growth of its turnover and activity. This can be done essentially by:
- addressing the legislative and regulatory constraints which hinder your growth
- improving the problematic relations and dialogues with policymakers
- removing any reputational and perception issue
- proposing new legislative or regulatory texts
This is therefore an extremely pragmatic and methodical approach to public authorities, with a set of techniques and practical tools. All this is result-oriented to unlock the growth of your company.
If you are a non-profit organization, the approach remains the same. Only the objective is different : to facilitate the defense and the promotion of the values/topcs which are at the heart of your NGO.
A mutually beneficial public-private relationship, in all areas!
All organizations share the same objective: getting their business and activity grown, be they commercial, environmental or social. On the other hand, the role of public authorities is to adapt the set of rules to changing socio-economic contexts, new challenges, emerging technologies, unprecedented forms of competition, and so on. It also requires them to consider the interests of all the different stakeholders. The latter must therefore participate in the elaboration of the rules they will have to be complying with. Good rules enable good business! In the end, everyone can benefit from a real collaboration. Interests are different but the final objective of a win-win deal is common to all!
The economic reality shows that no sector is immune from laws or regulations having (or potentially having) a positive or negative impact on the profitability of companies. Some examples:
- Proposed law to cap fees paid by merchants when accepting bank cards
- European directive requiring car manufacturers to further limit CO² emissions
- Prohibition by the French Labour Ministry of some chemical products by funeral services, without any approval of any alternative product
- Enlargement of Sunday work, with conditions
- Prohibition by the French Health Ministry to install beverage and food product vending machines in schools
- European Directive specifying very clearly what can be commercially considered as chocolate and what can not be
- Modification of the French Penal Code enabling some cities to fix the amount of the parking fines
- Clarification of the mandatory information to be printed on the labels of all honeypots sold in France
- Authorization given to pharmacists to deliver medicines that are normally only prescription-based
- Modification of the French rules applicable to certain regulated professions (bailiffs, notaries, auctioneers) to stimulate competition
- Prohibition of electric fishing by the European authorities
Your needs, scrutinized by a survey
A recent survey by a regional French Chamber of Commerce highlighted very strong figures :
- 62% of the 130,000 companies based in the region had no influence activity at all
- But most of them wanted to be active. They argued different reasons for not being active:
- 75.1% claim they do not have the time
- 47.5% indicate they have trouble identifying the right interlocutors
- 42.6% say they do not have the required skills.
- 38.7% say they do not know how to do it
- 34.6% say they lack resources
- Nevertheless, they are convinced that their turnover can be at stake :
- amongst the companies involved in any sort of public affairs activity, 21.4% of them have been doing it for less than a year.
This is the only in-depth study Influences & Réputation is aware of. And yourself, where do you stand ? Where do you plan to be, in this area, in the next 6 months ?
Alaguéo is a company of 43 employees, created in 1993. Its positioning and regular innovations in the animal feed and perishable recycling market make the company one of the leading firms in its sector. But following an inspection by some French public authorities (DGCCRF then Labor Inspection), Alaguéo is forced to change 85% of its production processes: it is accused of breaking a number of rules and standards, both French and European. Nevertheless, Alaguéo company is convinced that the French authorities’ decision is erroneous. It claims they do not understand its job and its modern ways of working. A formal notice is sent to Alaguéo, which refuses to continue an already tense dialogue. The company locks itself up. Then, a judicial decision is issued: Alaguéo is prohibited from continuing its activity until it has complied with the various injunctions… A few months later, Alaguéo filed for bankruptcy and dismissed its 43 employees. Having worked with a public affairs expert would have facilitated the dialogue with the French authorities, and a positive outcome could have been found… Alaguéo had never thought that a bad dialogue with any public authority could have questioned until its own existence !
Defending your interests within a network or in a more individual way?
In matters of public affairs and influence, whether you are a business or an association, consolidating your activity can be done through a large range of channels. None is exclusive of the others. Strengthening the complementarity of the used tools enables an sharp increase in effectiveness. This is why our firm offers you a very strong cooperative approach.
- Usually, collective structures such as industry associations do promote and defend only the interests of all the members (majority or unanimity). The group dimension gives more weight to the arguments put forward. However, your specific interests are very likely to be excluded if your concerns are not shared by the other members. The group defends and promotes the topics which prevail in the sector, not those of a particular company or association. Complementing your attitude within a collective structure by an individual approach reinforces your efficiency and impact. In addition, acting together requires time, while being responsive can be crucial in some cases.
- As for your informal network, it must not be neglected, of course! Nevertheless, it has its limits: the real decision-makers of a specific file are not necessarily those that we imagine and know. In addition, many third parties (other stakeholders, more or less familiar with the case) are more and more often involved in the process. Last, civil servants and all those working with lawmakers change functions and roles regularly. Knowing a person is useful, knowing the holder of the function is preferable. And since they do change frequently… Being supported by an expert able to identify the right players, influential and at the right time, is necessary to increase your probability of success.
- A public affairs expert masters modern techniques to promote and defend your interests, whatever the issues, contexts and levels of decision. This is his job: his reputation is based on his know-how and his savoir-être. His expertise and agility are, for your organization, an undeniable asset that can often save time.