Transition Teams: How to Work Effectively with Incoming Administrations

December 3, 2020

Pardon Our Dust

We recently launched this new site and are still in the process of updating some of our archived content. Some details of this article may be incomplete, links may be broken, and other elements may not display properly yet. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

As new administrations prepare to govern in 2021, businesses and organizations can make sure their voice is heard and build connections.

Build relationships during the transition. Most campaigns don’t focus on transition plans until after the election. This leaves victors with a period of about 60 days to assemble staff, hear from interest groups and others on issues that may be highlighted in the inaugural address or state of the state address, determine priorities for the administration and more. Building relationships before the elected official assumes office is appreciated, because the volume of what a new elected official has to tackle is limitless.

There are many avenues to have your voice heard. It’s important to understand who can help the most on a specific issue over the course of the transition, which may not always be the newly elected official. Connecting with the transition director or policy director can be effective. Frequently, the person directing policy at the campaign is someone who ends up taking a seat in the administration, as well as assisting with setting priorities and developing a major address.

Don’t assume an elected official has in-depth knowledge of your issue. Oftentimes, a newly elected official is running on a 15- or 30-minute incremental schedule. Presenting your information in a simple, compelling way will help in the long run. New staff can often be young and inexperienced and may not have the subject matter familiarity of your issue. If you have the ability to schedule a meeting and provide a tutorial on the broader subject if they are unfamiliar with that area, that is very much appreciated and welcomed.

Be brief and focused. Lead with your ask and what you are looking to accomplish, then go into the background and detail on the back side. If you spend all of your time in a very short meeting or a short phone call trying to explain and give in-depth background, you’ll either lose the elected official or senior staffer who you’re speaking with. Tactically speaking, it’s always better to have a one-pager or simple information with your contact information as opposed to a 20-page report that will just not be read.

Articulate a value proposition. Determine the value you can provide as a subject matter expert on an economic or workforce issue in a certain state and show how you can be helpful. A number of legislative initiatives taking place are borrowed ideas – the same idea that can be pursued in Indiana may have already been implemented in Minnesota and could also be done in North Carolina or Arizona, etc. Do your homework on the back end to see what has been successful, what has not been successful and lessons learned from initiatives that began in other states. Administrations appreciate the perspective, and the information will help them understand how an issue is going to impact your business in a way that they may not even be thinking about. 

Our team has helped many clients navigate changing political conditions and incoming governors and attorneys general. We have worked in all regions of the country, in almost every state. We would be happy to advise you on best practices and innovative ways to build new relationships with key policymakers in state capitals across the nation.