Page 1

Building Winning Relationships

“Invaluable Reputation” – Dec. 10, 2013 Andrew MacDougall, MSLGROUP London


+ Context + Building blocks for partnership + The role of transparency


Senior Executive Consultant – MSLGROUP

Dcomm to PM Harper

Senior Consultant H&K

01 - Context

+ Budget pressures + Reputation issues + Need for partnership

Context – Budget Pressures


Governments are facing reputation issues


Be careful with your partnerships!


Governments are facing reputation issues


Because it’s facile


Reputation and Competence


02 – The Building Blocks for Partnership

+ + + +

Build understanding Speak the language Reciprocate Plan carefully

Build Understanding • Government ≠ business • Start small and build up – Don’t walk in and ask for the moon

• Extreme cases make bad law – Don’t start in crisis (if you can avoid it)

• Be clear in your expectations – What are asks on each side?


Speak the Language

• Speak politics – Put yourself in government shoes

• Speak to motive – What problem does it solve – for them

• No surprises – Governments can take bad news but don’t blindside



• All relationships involve give and take • Build capital – Offer support on tangential issues

• Remember the words “thank you”


Plan Carefully

• Government can be big, dumb, slow • Add your voice to the debate – Prepare the ground

• Be agile – Be ready for opportunity


03- The Role of Transparency

+ Risk management + The new normal (Snowden and social media) + Opportunities for creative approaches

Risk Management • Government moving to transparency – Lobbyist registries etc. • More voices – Rise of social media • More threats • Lower threshold for “news” – More demand for content

The New Normal • Transparency is not a fad – Technology forces it

• Hold to higher standard – Be prepared to explain

• Defend legitimacy at all costs – Gov’t doesn’t have monopoly on ideas

Time to Get Creative • Who you know vs. What you know – Pendulum shifting • Use transparency to your advantage – Build audience

• More opportunities – Embrace the new channels

04 – Canada-EU Trade Agreement

Case Study

A model partnership


Case Study – Canada-EU Trade Agreement

• Trade a priority – Savvy partners knew context

• Complicated story to tell – Needed third party validation

• Went with trusted partners – Relationships paid off




+ Context + Building blocks for partnership + The role of transparency

To Summarise

• • • • • • •

Know the context and the constraints it places Keep your nose clean Build understanding Think politically, plan carefully Give as well as take Transparency is the new normal Embrace creativity




Building Winning Relationships By Andrew MacDougall MSLGROUP  
Building Winning Relationships By Andrew MacDougall MSLGROUP  

Andrew MacDougall, former government spokesman in Canada and currently Senior Executive Consultant in our London office, was recently invite...