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Why and how political engagement should be part of your business strategy

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I’m sure your business has a plan that shows where you want to be and how you’re going to get there. But, does it include political engagement? From Brexit to bins, decisions from national to local government stakeholders can impact dramatically on the ability of your business to function, grow and meet its objectives.

So, developing a relationship with political stakeholders, such as Councillors, Members of Parliament and Mayors, that are both local and relevant to your business aims should be at the centre of any plan.

Once you’ve set your objectives from undertaking political engagement you need to think about your strategy to achieve it:

1. Influencing

Lobbying, as it is more widely known, allows you to present your views to policy and decision makers to help inform them of the decisions they are making. Without this, they can’t make a fully informed decision which could be detrimental to your business.

2. Increasing your visibility

Your marketing strategy is there to promote your business to your customers, but by being more visible to politicians as part of that strategy. This can add a dimension that leads to opportunities that you hadn’t thought possible – enhancing your position, reputation and new business opportunities.

3. Demonstrating your expertise

You know you’re the best in your field, and any good marketing strategy should be demonstrating that to your customers. Targeting this towards politicians can be considerably beneficial, creating advocates and spokespeople for your business and products who, not only are influential decision makers, but also have the constant ear of local, national, and even international press.

The tools you need to arm your strategy are as equally important. Below are the three key tools that you need to have in place to deliver your core objectives.

1. Stakeholder audit

Whether it is at a local, regional, national or international level, you need to identify who the right political stakeholders are that you need to be engaging with and influencing.

2. Key messages

These will define your engagement with politicians. They need to be succinct but provide all the information you need to convey to them. Narrowing down your key messages can take time, but you will reap the rewards when it comes to engaging with your political stakeholders.

3. Monitoring

Not everyone has the time to keep abreast of the latest news coming out of their local town hall or Westminster. Decisions and policies are constantly being made and it is vitally important that you know about the latest news and gossip, so you can actively influence them before key decisions are made.

Finally, to achieve your objectives, there are a number of tactics that can be used. For the best results, a combination of the tactics below will increase the opportunity for success.

1. One to ones

How better to get across your key messages than meeting face to face with the key political stakeholders you need to influence. Can be difficult to secure but can provide the best outcomes.

2. Events

Holding your own event allows you the opportunity to bring your stakeholders, customers and colleagues together with politicians, who can see them as mutually beneficial for themselves.

3. Campaigns

A good, co-ordinated campaign can be hugely influential in changing the course of a decision being made in your town hall or in Westminster. Bringing together it’s key messages and delivering them in a creative and dynamic way can lead to even the most stubborn politician to change their mind!

4. Supporter generation

Sometimes, the best way to persuade politicians is to show how well supported your position is. It’s hard for politicians to oppose something that can demonstrate widespread support.

About the author

Chris is the Head of Grayling Manchester. He supports Grayling’s clients with providing political intelligence across northern England and Westminster, delivering political engagement strategies and helping to raise their profile with local authorities and Parliamentarians across the north.

July 17th, 2018

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