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Securing Senior Management Support for a PAC

By December 4, 2012April 24th, 2019Expertise - 6 PAC (KB)
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Securing Senior Management Support for a PAC

The following suggestions are for building senior management support for a PAC and preparing them for a solicitation:

Invite senior officers to attend small-group luncheons, breakfasts or meetings where they have the opportunity to meet with and talk to key elected officials to discuss legislative issues.

Ask senior officers to play a role in federal, state or local government relations activities: accompany lobbyist, testify, attend a hearing, attend a fundraising event or deliver a PAC check to a candidate.

Conduct focus groups among senior officers to discuss the company’s role in federal/state affairs. Seek input on establishing, dismantling or reactivating a PAC. Conduct in conjunction with employee surveys and focus groups.

The CEO should candidly discusses past failure to secure senior management support (or broadbase employee support) in the PAC, why the failure occurred and how the failure can (and will) be corrected.

The CEO should conduct a meeting with senior officers. If possible, he/she should stress a new, never-before-seen emphasis in government relations (i.e., the company’s big issue). This new endeavor will call for maximizing all of your company’s available resources, including lobbying, grassroots mobilization, and the PAC. The CEO’s comments should focus on the vested interested each senior officer has in the company, and the visible support senior officers will be expected to demonstrate when the time comes to promote the PAC to middle and junior management.

The CEO should ask all officers to attend a briefing (60-120 minutes) to sensitize them to steps that the company might consider for coordinating all corporate functions in accomplishing its all-important government relations objective(s). Sessions such as this are often conducted by a motivational elected official or consultant.

Invite senior officers (or any particular critics of the PAC) to attend and observe a PAC candidate-selection committee meeting.

The following suggestions are for soliciting contributions from senior management:

At a regularly scheduled meeting of the senior managers targeted for a solicitation, the CEO and the senior government relations professional should discuss the importance of the PAC.

If a broadbase solicitation campaign is planned, the CEO and senior government relations professional should review the timetable for soliciting all, or all federally-eligible, employees. He/she should explain that the goal is to share the responsibility for supporting the PAC among all eligible employees, however, the broadbase solicitation kick-off will occur only when senior management has truly demonstrated its commitment to the PAC (i.e., 85 percent participation).

The CEO should tell each senior officer that they will have very specific assignments for the pending broadbase solicitation. These assignments should include, but not be limited to: a) inviting employees within his/her division to serve as volunteer solicitors (public affairs should actually choose the solicitors) b) signing off on a letter of endorsement to employees within his/her division c) making an appearance at each and every small group meetings, shaking hands as people arrive, giving a three-minute talk endorsing the PAC, introducing the solicitor, and then leaving d) attending the thank you recognition luncheon for solicitors.

Senior managers should be told that a member of the PA/GR staff will meet with them personally concerning their participation in the PAC and their role in the upcoming broadbased solicitation. (As an option, the senior public affairs/government affairs professional can solicit for the PAC at this meeting.)

The senior director of public affairs/government affairs should meet individually with each of the senior officers to conduct the actual solicitation. These one-on-one meetings are designed to a) solicit senior officers to contribute to the PAC, b) discuss government relations objectives and the PAC’s goals, c) inform senior officers about how they can help prime their divisions for the upcoming broadbase solicitation PAC campaign, and d) discuss the timetable of the upcoming broadbase campaign and the role senior mangers will be asked to play during and after the campaign.

Clearly state a suggested contribution guideline and an incentive-club guideline. Guidelines of 3/4 of one percent, one percent, or exceeding one percent are common for solicitations of senior officers.

If necessary, offer senior officers the flexibility they may want for funding candidates. Consider spinning off a separate senior-management PAC. The funds could be used on an as-needed basis by senior management or as a “discretionary fund” by the Washington office. Or…

Allow senior managers to earmark their contributions to the company’s PAC (not a separate senior management PAC) or consider establishing individual trustee accounts (conduit accounts) for senior officers who request one. Ask for one contribution (i.e., 3/4 of 1 percent), split the money on a pre-determined basis (i.e., 50-50), and deposit part into the PAC and part into the officer’s personal account. Or…

Give senior officers “credit” for personal contributions made directly to political candidates.

Issue, to all senior officers, frequent solicitation progress reports broken down by division or department. Design the reports so that they spur competition but do not identify any individual contributors or non-contributors.

If the first attempt to secure participation does not accomplish your target goals (a solid goal to aim for is 85 percent participation among senior officers, with a minimum average contribution of 1/2 of one percent), try again with a different approach. Be candid with senior officers that the first approach did not meet the desired goals.

Upon the completion of the senior-management solicitation, there is no need to reward senior officers for their contribution to the PAC (i.e., cocktail party, gifts, etc.). This is unnecessary for behavior that should be instinctive. Save the events and gifts for the conclusion of a broadbase employee solicitation. At that point, provide gifts/events to all employees, including senior managers, who join.