The Washington, DC Metropolitan area was in the news yesterday, but not for the reasons we would like. Twelve people were killed at the Navy Yard near the Washington Nationals ballpark, about a mile from the U.S. Capitol.
Events such as this shooting are a sad commentary on how cruel our fellow man can be; however, it also brings out the best in folks as well. There were many acts of heroism yesterday that you will learn about in the day ahead. Our family and friends worry and call us to see if we are doing alright. Even old clients pick up the phone to check in.
During one of these phone calls yesterday with a former client, a large company in Europe, we talked about the business and how things were going. They asked me about a federal regulatory issue and whether the DC office was handling it the right way.
I’ll tell you what I told him in a minute. But the conversation reminded me of something I’ve discussed with our clients and friends for many years that I want to pass along to you.
One of the things I share the most with clients about this fair city is that coming to Washington, DC seeking a solution to a business problem is never a good idea. You will likely complicate things.
Before you engage in the regulatory arena, you must do your research and bring your own solution to the mix. Then you make the federal regulatory agencies and, if needed the political processes, work for you.
Most of the time, I urge clients to stay away from here. Seriously. Why do you want to put a target on yourself with a federal agency or a Congressional office?Most of the time we can craft a business or legal solution without any government intervention whatsoever.
Despite what you may see in the media, this is serious business. Anytime you allow the government to meddle in your company, you risk it never going away. However, there are times that you must engage and before you do so, please do your homework and find people who know what they are doing.
Just like you would never walk into a courtroom on your own without the help of legal counsel, engaging in this town and maximizing your reach should be done with the help of a lawyer or public policy expert.
I’ve turned down work. Cardinal sin some lawyers would say; however, there are certain projects that a lobbyists or public relations firm is better able to handle. Is a lawyer required? Not necessarily. It depends on the circumstances and facts of your matter.
As for my friend in Europe, I told him to skip the lawyers and use a public affairs company.
Be sure to say a prayer for the victims and family members of the shootings. They could sure use it in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
P.S., this is a very safe town. What happened here yesterday can happen anywhere in the United States or the world. Come visit. Do not let the negative news reports — the gloom and doom brigade — scare you away. The politicians, well, that is another story.