Public Affairs and COVID-19

Public Affairs and COVID-19


A strategic framework for reaching and influencing policymakers in the new reality

Executive Summary 

This year has brought a host of unprecedented challenges and situations the majority of us have never even considered. One of those challenges is the crippling hit to our day-to-day mobility. As we have already seen, mobility during a global pandemic has been extremely restricted in the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, greatly affecting the once measured and somewhat predictable practice of public affairs in DC. Over the next six to twelve months, we will likely vacillate between stages of extreme restriction and relatively open mobility as COVID-19 cases and hospital capacity fluctuate.

Public affairs practitioners need a framework for understanding where policy influencers are, how to reach them and their capacity and appetite to receive certain messages during these stages of mobility.

Like the course of the pandemic and its impacts thus far, it is impossible to predict the next six to twelve months and how much mobility there may or may not be inside-the-beltway. State and local government decisions, fluctuations in the number of COVID-19 cases, deaths, hospitalizations, seasonal impacts on the spread of the virus, and the ability to re-open schools and childcare facilities all put us in a state of flux–moving rapidly between varying states of mobility.

As we shift back and forth between complete social distancing, limited mobility and even towards a future where work and mobility has changed more permanently, we can use frameworks to adapt our strategies and tactics for communicating with policymakers and influencing policy and regulatory shifts.

Key Objectives

Our mobility framework will help practitioners accomplish the following:

  1. Understand how COVID-19 mobility restrictions impact policy influencers’ habits.
  2. Establish a rule of thumb for evaluating and shifting public affairs tactics based on COVID-related mobility restrictions.
  3. Drill down to advertising recommendations for effectively reaching policy influencers based on differing media consumption patterns during periods of restricted mobility.

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COVID-Related Mobility Scenario

1. COVID-Related Mobility Scenarios

The coronavirus pandemic has altered the way of life for individuals across the globe, including policymakers and influencers in Washington. The following scenarios outline key elements of life that have and will continue to change based on our level of mobility.

How Mobility Informs Strategy

2. How Mobility Informs Strategy

Mobility scenarios have direct impact on the strategies and tactics we use to influence policy decisions. The following table outlines considerations for public affairs activities based on the three mobility scenarios.

How Mobility Informs Advertising Tactics

3. How Mobility Informs Advertising Tactics

Mobility has direct impact on our public affairs strategies. It also changes the set of advertising tactics that are most effective in reaching policymakers.

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