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A Political Campaign Veteran - Interview with Jonathan Drobis from Dewey Square Group

2 min. read

#Cleantechers working in community engagement for projects – If you’d like to see how big-budget, mature corporations run their local public affairs, please check out our conversation with someone who’s spent over a decade running grasstops campaigns for Fortune 500 companies. We think there are portable lessons to learn, despite the significant differences in budget levels. 

Jonathan Drobis is a long-time friend and a legit political campaign veteran. Over the last 12 years, he’s run grasstops campaigns for Fortune 500 companies from The Dewey Square Group (DSG), a heavy-duty firm with its own Wikipedia definition. 

Grasstops, sometimes derisively called “astroturf,” is a form of corporate communications that helps large mature companies secure their policy goals from public officials – often at the state or local level. It parallels the type of grassroots community engagement that clean energy companies pursue to win the social license needed to secure project approval from the local county commission. 

Before his current role, Jonathan spent a decade working in politics at the state, local and federal level. He came to CLEANPOWER with us in May to observe how clean energy companies are doing in their equivalent of grasstops campaigning – community acceptance. We recently caught up with Jonathan to tap his observations.  

Here are our B3Ps (Big 3 Points) from Jonathan on the qualities of mature-company grasstops programs:

7:55 - Start with extensive research. It can provide a deep understanding of what drives officials to make their decisions. That research provides insights into how to approach policy makers successfully, accounting for the different ways they make decisions. 

25:57 - Create an echo chamber around the policymaker. Get the message out beyond your company’s voice. Reach natural allies and audiences who might not traditionally be engaged in a public policy battle but do have similarly aligned interests. Then, find ways for them to help you with the public policy challenges you have, and make sure it resonates with the targeted decision maker. 

29:00 - Have a person on your team that can sense a political challenge before it arises. Have a person who is trained in the craft of political campaigns, so they can help you avoid bigger problems on the front end and help your team prepare a plan. 

Our thanks to Jonathan Drobis for making his political expertise available to cleantechers engaging with rural communities about the benefits of clean energy.


Topics: Scaling Clean Podcast