We at Rasky Partners are proud of our talented public relations and public affairs experts across the firm’s practice areas. In our ongoing Meet the Expert series, we sit down with a different agency leader on Mondays to get their thoughts on several important and timely questions and gain a greater sense of their industry expertise and experiences. This week we sit down with Rasky senior vice president in our public affairs practice, Jeff Terrey.
What interests you most about public affairs?
For the first ten years of my career I worked on political campaigns and in political offices. I enjoyed working to help government fix problems. Public affairs is an extension of this work. It is about problem solving. I have the opportunity to work closely with clients, understand the problems or hurdles they are facing and then figure out ways to solve their problems.
With public affairs being such a constantly evolving field, where do you see the industry headed and what can professionals do to keep up?
Technology is allowing elected officials to be in closer contact with their constituents. This goes both ways. It is easier for constituents to let their elected representatives know what is important to them and it is also easier for elected officials to tell their constituents of their priorities and successes. Public affairs professionals are moving to embrace this development by leveraging social media.
You’re leading Rasky Partners’ new Codes and Regulations consulting service. What types of services and industries are involved in this consultancy?
Almost every manufacturer is impacted by some type of code, whether it is a fire code, an energy code, electrical code or building code. How a product is impacted by the codes can have a significant impact on the product’s ultimate success or failure.
The code development process is a long, multistep process that involves national model codes with open and transparent stakeholder processes and then ultimately a process where the federal government or states adopt the codes and put them into effect.
Stakeholders advocating for a code change must understand the entire process and take the right steps to ensure that they are prepared. Our Codes and Regulations consultancy can help companies throughout this entire process. We can help first with an overview of the process and outlining of the right stakeholder engagement strategy and then develop the right messaging platform. From there we can work to engage stakeholders to gain support for a proposal or mute possible opposition. We can then work to represent a client during the code writing process to make sure that our message is being heard and understood by regulators. Finally, we follow through to the state level, working with regulators and if necessary, political leaders, to ensure it is finally adopted and enforced.
You’ve been at the center of the firm’s work with the Fire Equipment Manufacturers’ Association. What do you see as the greatest successes Rasky and FEMA have achieved during this time?
We have worked closely with the Fire Equipment Manufacturers’ Association since 2003. We have represented them in all of their state and federal government relations. During this time we have successfully changed fire codes in more than 25 states to make fire codes stronger and safer and to ensure that portable extinguishers are not removed from buildings in cost cutting moves.
You have had extensive experience on political campaigns here in Boston and across Massachusetts throughout your career, including most recently serving on the Transition Team for Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. How have these experiences helped shape your work today?
Working closely with elected officials and politicians on gubernatorial campaigns, mayoral races and others has given me an understanding of how to work with elected officials so that a client’s interests are best served. It has also given me a solid network of other former campaign staff and volunteers who are now working throughout government.
You’ve taught a course on political advocacy for the arts at Boston University for the last six years. What have been the most rewarding aspects of this experience?
I had the opportunity to work with an arts advocacy client for several years early in my lobbying career. This gave me insight into the challenges facing the arts community as well as the resources the community can bring to bear. Teaching at Boston University has been a great experience where we can have an open discussion every week on how arts organizations can increase their political profile.
There is no shortage of public affairs firms in Boston and across the Commonwealth. What sets Rasky apart from the rest when it comes to its approach to public affairs?
We are very lucky here at Rasky Partners to have the staff that we do. We have a tremendous diversity of experience and relationships throughout our staff that we can leverage for clients. Our staff have experience gained from working in the media, federal, state and municipal campaigns and government offices. There are not many political leaders with whom someone in our office does not have a relationship.
Relationships however, are only half of the battle. We have the ability to design the right strategies for clients to accomplish their goals. Being a full service public relations and public affairs firm gives us the ability to use traditional lobbying, grassroots advocacy and the media to deliver a client’s messages.
If you could offer clients one piece of advice, what would it be?
Get involved in an issue early. The earlier you get involved in an issue, the better. It allows you to be more strategic, develop better relationships and build stronger coalitions. You can of course do this later in a process, but being early helps.
For more on Rasky’s industry expertise, please click here.