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 Director of National Public Affairs and Senior Vice President in our government relations practice, Jessica Beeson Tocco.
What interests you most about the work that you do?
Job creation and economic stimulation. The work we do across the Midwest and South generates infrastructure projects and a significant number of associated jobs that put people to work and generate revenue for our clients nationwide.
You’re leading Rasky Partners’ new National Public Affairs Practice. What types of services will you and the team provide?
We will continue to provide Rasky’s core services – government and public relations – but on a national scale. Clients who are already familiar with and trust our organization can rely on us to expand their market presence across the country.
What industries are of particular focus with this new practice?
Infrastructure will be the main focus, as well as healthcare.
The Trump Administration has conveyed a growing interest in improving infrastructure at the state and local levels. How will this be beneficial to the practice and your clients?
The recent omnibus package secures $200 billion for infrastructure projects over 10 years and states are looking to alleviate their crumbling infrastructure through public private partnerships. Massachusetts-based companies have the technology, experience and financial capability to scale their work into states looking to capture funding from the federal infrastructure stimulus plan.
Where in the U.S. do you see the greatest need for these services? Why?
States that maintain a budget surplus, particularly in the South and Midwest; these states have created tax breaks and economic incentives for businesses that move to their regions. States that are attracting new business headquarters through friendly tax packages are also creating more jobs in major Midwest and southern cities. As cities develop, their surrounding infrastructure must as well. Stable infrastructure will attract additional business opportunities and citizens. This creates an opportunity for our clients.
You’ve built very strong connections at the state and local levels here in New England and beyond in your more than a decade working in the industry. How has this extensive network proven beneficial in servicing your clients in the National Public Affairs Practice?
Connections are critical. In college I ran a nationwide, 7 million member College Republican Organization. Through this I built and fortified relationships with future leaders, many of whom are now elected officials in states across the country. I also worked under the Bush Administration and we are now seeing many former Bush officials running state and local operations which feed into our national network for clients. There are very few states that we can’t get to. This offers our clients a one-stop-shop to fulfill their national efforts.
You’re an Indiana native and have enjoyed a longstanding political relationship with Vice President Mike Pence and his team. In what ways have your connections to this administration been valuable in your work at Rasky?
Compared to other firms in New England, we have unrivaled access to the current Administration. We prioritize policy over politics in order to offer the best technologies and corporate strategies to government to improve infrastructure and advance our clients’ business goals.
We’re now more than a year into Donald Trump’s presidency. Given your close ties to the administration, what do you see as the greatest challenges and opportunities for public affairs professionals here in 2018 and beyond?
The greatest challenge facing the public affairs industry under this Presidency is that there is limited access and few are credentialed to work with the Administration. In our case, however, that is a major advantage. I have been with the Vice President from the beginning and am a proven ally. This allows us to cut through red tape for our clients that other public affairs teams in the region cannot.
There is no shortage of public affairs and PR firms in Washington. What sets Rasky apart from the rest when it comes to its approach?
Rasky Partners provides holistic solutions to clients and yields 30 years of positive outcomes to show for it. Before coming on-board, I met with several firms in the region and understood clearly that Rasky is the only firm that can fully and successfully integrate municipal, state and federal government relations with public relations and policy advocacy. Our experts provide a coordinated host of services that effectively serve our clients, whether they are looking for positioning, crisis assistance or even trying to grow their bottom line.
If you could offer clients one piece of advice, what would it be?
The key to public affairs is to believe in what you are fighting for, and to work with a partner that you can trust. What I love about Rasky Partners is that we always put the client first and empower each other to succeed in executing advocacy victories.
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