Infrastructure is a CampaignMarch 31, 2021
By Vaughn Jennings | BSG Senior Vice President
President Biden is expected to lay out the parameters of a massive and ambitious infrastructure package, undoubtedly setting the stage for his next legislative priority on Capitol Hill. Washington should be on notice that the infrastructure debate has arrived, the Administration is gearing up for a fight and now is the time to get ready.
The path to what some view as a generational investment faces stiff opposition. There will be many twists, turns, and pitfalls that at times make passage look momentarily doubtful. But don’t start writing the new “infrastructure week” jokes just yet.
President Biden is making it clear his Administration intends to put significant political capital behind its infrastructure push. Congressional leaders are lining up behind a legislative package that is likely to both showcase shovel-ready projects and spark partisan fights over pay-fors and tax hikes. Key players on the hill are already pledging to use whatever means necessary — from regular order to reconciliation — to move their priorities across the finish line.
In today’s political environment, success is a well-orchestrated public affairs campaign. Whether your goals center around funding a specific project, raising your profile on a key issue or beating back a solution in search of a problem, here are a few ways you can be ready to put points on the board.
Stay on top of the debate: The most important preparation any organization can make is to ensure your decision makers are seeing the news you need to see in real-time. Around-the-clock traditional and social media monitoring on all aspects of the debate will arm your team with the insights needed to develop, refine and execute an effective public affairs campaign.
Create Content that Educates and Engages Stakeholders: Define your issue, before someone else defines it for you. It’s an easier lift to fend off tax hikes, or other harmful provisions, before they show up in bill text. Proactive content development is fundamental to ensuring your priorities stand out among the chorus of competing interests, building allies of substance and echo chambers, putting out fires and activating your employees when their voices need to be heard.
Stay Off the Menu: Infrastructure is more than just roads and bridges; the debate spans nearly every sector across our economy from travel and tourism to green energy, education and much more. Such aspirational priorities can carry a hefty price tag, and these projects aren’t going to pay for themselves. As the debate evolves, so too can your need to quickly and effectively engage. Remember, sometimes going to the table proactively is the best way to stay off the menu.
Seize the Opportunity: Be the early bird. Conversations are already underway that will shape the debate and influence the substance and timing of legislative action. Any high-profile push is an opportunity to advance your priorities or protect your interests. Be flexible, aggressive and strategic in your planning so your organization is prepared to welcome the debate and engage from a position of strength.
Infrastructure is a marathon, not a sprint. A sustained legislative drumbeat expected to continue into the fall only reinforces the need to start early, get your content ready and stay ahead of the debate.