Faces Behind Businesses

Bluesky Strategy Helps Clients Reach for the Sky

Photo by Sean Sisk

“Government relations can be complicated,” says Bluesky Strategy Group co-founder Susan Smith. “It works better if you have a trusted reputation and strong relationships. You can only build those by working with integrity.”

And for the past twenty years, Smith and her business partner Tim Barber have done just that —unwaveringly.

Founded in 2003, Bluesky is a full-service public affairs firm providing government relations, media communications, issue management, and event design for clients looking to influence public policy. The well-respected firm partners with industry, academia, government, media, not-for-profits, and Indigenous and cultural communities, affording access to a team of seasoned journalists, former staff and MPs, political commentators, and other influencers who know how to grab a newsroom’s attention. In so doing, Bluesky brings causes stuck in the shadows into the spotlight.

Photo by Sean Sisk

Before Bluesky, the Smith-Barber tandem had been co-workers at another firm. But they shared a vision for a company that would approach its work with a greater degree of creativity, a decided advantage in the crowded GR field. “We’ve always been able to keep our ideas, insights, and tactics fresh,” says Smith. “We’re always working to take it to the next level.”

That process starts with a clear assessment and a honest audit of a client’s intentions. Says Smith, “Their goals have to align with our principles. We have to believe that we can help them. If a client comes in and they’re asking for something we do not think is achievable, we will tell them that.” Adds Barber, “We always recommend that it start with a strategy. Too often, people walk in and say, ‘We want to talk to this person…we want access to this or that.’ You’re not going to get access if you haven’t thought it through.”

Over the past twenty years, Bluesky’s guiding hand has provided the roadmap for a wide variety of interests; if it’s in the news, being debated in Parliament, or the latest federal law, there’s a good chance that Bluesky has a client who is interested in the outcome. “We work with our clients every step of the way,” adds Smith. “We look at what the issue is, seek a solution, then implement what it takes to achieve it.”

Examples of the firm’s long history of converting creativity into advocacy include the famous “Spread the Net” campaign, in which Bluesky mailed bed nets to MPs who had to bring them to a malaria awareness-raising reception to get them shipped to Africa. In another innovative move, Bluesky staged movie nights on Parliament Hill to champion the Canadian film industry. The team also works closely with officials on the nuts and bolts of policies and programs, helping clients deliver effective messages to decision-makers.

Photo by Sean Sisk

And don’t think Bluesky’s efforts ebb and flow with changes in government. Explains Barber, “The guardrails of our politics are narrower than we think. The machinery doesn’t change that much.” Adds Smith, “Every member of parliament in every government has one objective: to serve their constituents and to get re-elected. And Canada has a professional public service that we can be proud of. When you understand that principle, you can always have good government relations.”

Or great ones, according to the word of mouth that continues to affirm Bluesky’s exalted standing. “When I ask people, ‘How did you hear about us?’, they say “Oh, it’s because you worked with so and so and they liked you.” says Smith, “It’s reputational.”

“Our Bluesky team collectively has decades of connecting with people and businesses across this country—and beyond. We’re founding members of the Global Communications Alliance, a network of firms like ours all across the world. Our reach is local, provincial, national, and international,” added Barber.

As for the next twenty years, don’t expect Bluesky to slow down. Says Barber, “We are hardwired communicators.”



Related posts
Community FeatureFaces Behind Businesses

Ottawa's Kevin Carruthers Explains Some Of The Biggest Changes To Your Insurance This Year

There have been major changes to home, auto and business insurance in Canada. Ottawa’s Kevin…
Read more
Community FeatureFaces Behind Businesses

All About Austin Lee

12 Questions with CTV News Ottawa’s newest Anchor, Austin Lee. You grew up in Campbell River, BC.
Read more
CommunityFaces Behind Businesses

Edward Pham’s RealIT Is Offering Real Solutions

I see a lot of inefficiencies, unnecessary  complexities, and exuberant costs in the implementation…
Read more