• Lauren Crawford Shaver
    Lauren Crawford Shaver

We enter 2017 with more unknowns than knowns. Here is what we know: health care, trade, cyber security, and financial regulation and reform are top federal priorities. However, what we don’t know is how these policies may or may not take shape – whether through legislation, rule-making, executive orders, or even, in today’s digital age, Twitter.

Advocacy groups, Fortune 500s, non-profits, and trade associations are all working nonstop to ensure their issues are promoted – or, at the very least, protected. In order to accomplish this, it’s time to move past 2016 and get down to hand-to-hand combat, local storytelling, thought leadership, and issue advocacy work.

So, let’s start with what works as guiding principles in laying the groundwork for a successful public affairs strategy:

Messengers are just as important as the facts

Often, Washington is fixated on who knows who, but we all really should be asking who knows what and who advocates for that what. The 2016 election proved a valuable point: people don’t believe actual facts if they don’t trust the messenger. This is certainly the case as elected officials want to hear what their constituents want and need. With the rise of “data-driven journalism” – such as UpShot and FiveThirtyEight – it is evident that thought leaders inside the Beltway expect to see the macro impact on a policy, while constituents are focused on the micro.

Every successful public affairs campaign must answer: “How does this impact the constituent outside of Washington?” And, only once that message is refined, must also answer: “Who is the ideal messenger to deliver that message?” These two must be answered together with an eye in to engage constituents. We cannot take a Beltway message or infographic and assume it will work within the states – but, instead, we must localize each issue.

Always think from the outside in

Advocates, companies, and associates often overlook their most valuable asset in story telling – their people. Employees, suppliers, alumni, and other networks have a valuable bond to the brand or cause. These stories and views reflect how voters feel and interpret an issue locally and carry weight with elected officials. Grassroots voices are critical to moving or stopping any legislation or regulation.

Voices from outside the Beltway carry interesting and new promise in defining your issues and  policy priorities. In the new year, it’s important to proactively be defined through the right messengers, targeting the right audience.

Define yourself before anyone (or social media) defines you

As we witnessed during this past election, fake news and social media spread information to both constituents and media outlets faster than antiquated traditional methods. This causes both accurate data and misinformation to frame a scandal, issue, or discussion faster than ever before.

To combat this, it is imperative to proactively define the value you bring to the economy, employees and general public well before this happens. Playing defense is never fun.


Ms. Crawford Shaver is a Partner at Forbes Tate Partners

Lauren Crawford Shaver

Lauren Crawford Shaver joined Forbes Tate Partners as a Partner in January 2017. She oversees public affairs and the firm’s growing grassroots practice.

Prior to joining Forbes Tate Partners, Lauren served as the Director of Expansion States for Hillary for America. In this role, Lauren led efforts to build a Democratic infrastructure with state parties and candidates up and down the ballot – for 2016 and future cycles alike.

Lauren proved to be an invaluable member of the Hillary for America campaign. Before serving on Secretary Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid, Lauren worked in the Obama Administration as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs for health care at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). At HHS, Lauren managed all campaigns and issues tied to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Medicare, Medicaid, HealthIT, prescription drug pricing, health centers, and other health research.

Prior to HHS, Lauren was a consultant known for designing and executing effective grassroots and grasstops campaigns across a variety of industries, including, but not limited to: healthcare, finance, trade, and hospitality.

Lauren’s outside-in approach to grassroots efforts applies the tactics of political campaigns to legislative and public affairs settings. Lauren has directed several of the largest legislative public affairs campaigns in Washington – in fact, she has coordinated grassroots teams across all fifty states, and continues to meet and train additional teams to further expand her already remarkably talented network. Her work creates turnkey access for Forbes Tate Partners’ clients to deliver constituent responses to legislators at any time during any policy debate.

In addition to her consulting work, Lauren also held roles on the Hillary Clinton for President Campaign in Iowa, Nevada, and Washington in 2008, worked for Obama for America in Ohio, and drove priorities for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) in Illinois.

A born and raised Seattleite, Lauren received her Bachelor’s from the University of San Diego and received a Masters in Government from Johns Hopkins University, magna cum laude. She resides in Washington, DC with her husband and two bulldogs.