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G3 & Associates

Date founded: 2003
Services: Public Relations/Business Consultants. Specializes in Government Affairs and Community Outreach

1425 Broadway #42
Seattle, WA 98122

For George Griffin, it’s all about "making connections." Ask him what he does for a living, and that phrase is likely to pop up. As a business owner, you would expect him to extol the virtues of being connected. But Griffin, the sole owner of Seattle-based G3 & Associates, is in the business of public affairs consulting. For him, and for the type of work he does, making connections is more than simply fattening his Rolodex.

“We specialize in government relations,” Griffin explains, “as well as outreach to communities of color.” This can be any number of things: helping a corporate client become a better community partner, assisting community organizations in wending their way through layers of city bureaucracy, or bringing disparate groups together to find solutions to civic problems before they land in a courtroom. “I’m sort of a middleman,” he says “bringing the right people together to solve problems.”

While the inner workings of city government are something many people would find perplexing and impenetrable, it’s a place inside which Griffin navigates quite comfortably. He has worked for the Port of Seattle and Seattle Water Department, cut his civic administrative teeth as deputy chief of staff for then-Mayor Norm Rice and later as regional administrator for the District of Columbia Housing Authority. About five years ago, he began managing public affairs projects for Seattle communications firm Gogerty Stark Marriott. It was there that his affinity for public affairs work solidified, along with a growing desire to be out on his own. About a year ago, he made the break with his founding of G3.

As an African-American business owner, he stands out a bit more than he would prefer – especially inside the world of public affairs. “I really do wish I had more competition in this business from other people of color,” he says, convinced that more would be attracted to the world of public affairs if they had a deeper understanding of what it entails. “A lot of people think of this type of work as only PR, and don’t realize there’s a lot of strategic planning involved, trying to find solutions so that people on both sides don’t feel as if they’ve been stepped on.”

Finding those solutions is often a balancing act, and Griffin is quick to concede that his candor regarding race and the economic disparity across those lines doesn't always please some colleagues or potential clients — just as his pro-business outlook has rankled some critics on the left. But to Griffin, the two worlds don’t have to be mutually exclusive. “You fight the battle on many different fronts,” he says, asserting his belief that changing institutionalized problems starts by sitting at the table, often beside others who may not see those problems exactly as you do.

So, to George Griffin and G3, public affairs consulting is about being many things: a diplomat, moderator, entrepreneur and civic volunteer. These roles are all essential to making a living out of bringing people together, out of making connections. And, a fat Rolodex doesn’t hurt either.

– Peter Graff