Stuart McCarthy, Senior Vice-President
How does an independent, mid-size Canadian-centric strategic government relations and strategic communications firm get global perspectives, insights and client opportunities without throwing in its lot with one of the giant conglomerate firms?
Bluesky Strategy Group found that path in 2015 as one of the founding members of the Global Communications Alliance (GCA), a network of like-minded independent agencies that provide the very best integrated communications services to clients around the world. The Global Communications Alliance isn’t an alliance in name only. It is a true working relationship providing education, strategic insight, client partnering and referrals and more, across North America, the UK, Europe, South America, Australia and India.
One of the unique aspects of the GCA is its non-competitive nature. Firms selected to join the GCA typically have exclusivity in their geographic locale, or service exclusivity and specialization. This fosters open, frank dialogue, sharing the latest knowledge and experiences without worry of sharing “trade secrets” with competitors in your own backyard. We discuss clients and opportunities, share case studies, provide political updates and more. Since, as the saying goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats,” at the ownership level, member companies discuss a range of topics from business growth strategies to succession planning.
The 17 firms currently in the GCA do this through monthly group calls and an in-person annual meeting which, this year, takes place this week in Edinburgh, Scotland, from May 22 to 24 and is being hosted by, PLMR, our colleagues in the United Kingdom Bluesky hosted the meeting in 2018 in Ottawa when it held the GCA chair, while colleagues have rolled out the carpet previously in London, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, and after a pandemic-induced gap, Berlin last year. However, even during the pandemic, these important knowledge-sharing encounters took place virtually over Zoom with dozens of participants.
The GCA also provides an outstanding opportunity for work and cultural exchanges between agency employees. Each year, employees from each firm have an opportunity to span out across the globe with partner firms to spend several weeks working on different client files understanding the different legislative and regulatory environments, cultural challenges and iconic cuisine, whether it is a beer and poutine in Canada, to sipping Maté in a gourd through a bombilla in Argentina, or wrapping up the work day with a Club-Mate (a fave of hackers and Hipsters) and currywurst snack in Germany.
More recently, the dialogue within the GCA’s member firms has extended deeper through exploring practice area specialization and expertise. Energy and alternative energy are also a current priority given the global focus on sources of low-carbon energy such as electrification, hydrogen, and liquid natural gas in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war and the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act incentives.
As we get to mark our eighth year as a member of the GCA, Team Bluesky is looking forward to a robust agenda, new ideas and shared opportunities when we gather in “Auld Reekie” in a few days and wish slàinte mhath! to our global friends and colleagues.