The Importance of Being Proactive

September 9, 2019

Parts 1 and 2:



Crayton: Hi everyone! Crayton Webb with Sunwest Communications, here back with Matt Garcia, new Managing Advisor for our Government Affairs practice. Matt just finished up a stint as Chief of Staff for Texas Congressman Pete Sessions.

The Importance of Being Proactive

We spend a lot of time talking about making friends when times are good. We use that phrase. But I know, you probably hear the same from a lot of clients or potential clients. It’s like, “Well, we don’t want to raise our head. We don’t want to raise a red flag.” Is that really a realistic point of view?

Matt: I don’t think it’s realistic. I think in this environment, that the more proactive firms are on the front end, the better. In my time working for the congressman, the best relationships we had were the companies of all sizes that got to know us over the years. So if an issue did arise – hopefully no issues ever arose – but if an issue did arise, you had that built-in relationship. You knew who to call. And that’s what I hope to bring to some of our clients and future clients, is if that opportunity comes up to where you need to make a phone call, we have the staff and the expertise here to help those individuals, help those firms.

Crayton: Yeah, we’re problem solvers, but of course it’s better to get to know your elected officials before you have a problem.

Elected Officials are Here to Serve You

So, what if you’re of the mindset, “I don’t like my particular elected official.” Or, “I think I don’t like them, particularly my member of Congress. They’re not of my same political persuasion or same political party, and they won’t like me if I call them and raise my head and try to get to know them.” Is that a good point of view? Is that just flat wrong?

Matt: I think that’s flat wrong. I think you never know where that common ground is until you have that conversation. I’ll give you an example. There was an organization, the National Association of Air Traffic Controllers. Big, big union. The perception was they would not have our support because they had this union label behind us. So they never reached out. One day, they had a leadership change, they decided to reach out to our office and we became great working partners for them. And it’s one of the proudest accomplishments I had working within the congressman’s office that, you know, we’re here to serve, and we were there to serve everyone across the aisle. Regardless. It didn’t matter if you’re Republican, Democrat, or Independent. Your elected officials are there to serve you. And that’s the approach I would advise individuals and firms to take.

The 2020 Presidential Election

Crayton: So interesting time in politics right now. 2020 presidential election well underway – right, at least the campaigning. And really a different political dynamic, perhaps, than we’ve ever seen before nationally. So what’s your number one observation as a political pundit, if you will? And how does that translate into brands, individuals, and companies, and what they should or perhaps should not be doing.

Matt: Number one observation for the first time in a long time, we’re seeing a competitive field in Texas. I think that’s a very interesting point, because for so long, Texas has been a red state, led by Republicans and experienced a great amount of economic prosperity. And we’ve had a lot of individuals that have come into, a lot of companies that have relocated to Texas to take advantage of these business-friendly regulations. So the number one observation is how does that play out as kind of the mindset or environment changes – especially in more of the urban areas – what does that outlook look like, not only for Texas, but for the nation?

Crayton: And how about nationally? Of course, at Sunwest, the majority of our clients are national brands, about half to a third are based in Texas, but others based around the country. Has politics changed forever with social media, with a president who tweets, kind of the marrying of politics and communications. Is there ever a going back to traditional politics or are we forever changed?

Matt: I think we’re forever changed. I think that the ability for a candidate or for an individual to communicate directly with a candidate through Twitter or Facebook and having that ability and having the ability to generate a following. It makes the individual that much more influential. It makes the grassroots that much more influential, as we’ve seen with candidates that are new to Congress that really utilize social media to drive their campaigns. I think we’re seeing a lot of the elected officials that have been in Congress, been in office a little longer, starting to adapt because of how powerful of a tool it is.

Crayton: Which means that for an individual, or a brand, or a corporation, you might need a little help navigating through this new system in order to not only protect your reputation, but also protect or build relationships with elected officials. Matt Garcia, Managing Advisor of Government Affairs here at Sunwest Communications. Thanks for joining us. Have a great day.