What is government relations?

People often ask what is government relations? The short answer is that it is an educational process mixed in with a liberal amount of advocacy. Simply put, it is an essential component of any business that is subject to government regulations.
At its core, government relations is an educational process: educating business and industry leaders about the governmental process; educating officials about the issues important to business or other constituencies; and educating governmental and business leaders, and the public, about the potential consequences of legislation.
Law has an impact on business, but business professionals do not always comprehend the difficulties of running a country and politicians do not always understand the complexities of running a business, so educating both about the potential effect legislation could have on an industry is an essential part of the law-making process.
Without an understanding of the law-making process, opportunities to shape the outcome of legislation that affects a given business can be missed. Government relations specialists educate clients about the law-making process and identify and monitor important issues – issues that affect their business. Once these issues are identified, government relations specialists offer advice on how to influence the underlying laws and public policy. And, when necessary, ensure that their client’s position is considered in the debate by lobbying public officials, staff, and/or the general public.
Naturally, lobbying can influence the law and it can be quite simple. It requires two things: knowledge of the given system of government and contacts.
Ultimately, what government relations professionals do is make the case for their business or their client’s business in the public policy arena.