Preparing for the General Election: Strategic Guidance for Public Affairs Professionals

Just before the Rain:  Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak announcing that the General Election will be held on 4th July 2024

Public affairs teams working for charities, trade associations, and corporate businesses have just six weeks to position their organisations favorably. With success firmly in mind, here’s a professional checklist, showcasing some practical steps your organisation can take to be fully prepared.

Rapid Policy Analysis and Positioning

Update Policy Briefs: Quickly review and update policy briefs to reflect current data and the latest political climate. Ensure they clearly articulate your stance and the implications of various electoral outcomes.

Identify Key Issues: Highlight the top issues that align with your organisation’s goals and are likely to resonate with the public and political parties. This could include economic policies, regulatory changes, social issues, or industry-specific concerns.

Engage with PPCs

Stakeholder Mapping: Identify and prioritize candidates in key constituencies, especially those with significant influence over your organisation’s interests.

Direct Engagement: Arrange meetings, round tables, or virtual forums with candidates to present your policy positions and discuss how their platforms align with your interests. Be prepared with compelling data and stories that underscore the importance of your issues.

Candidate Briefing Packs: Prepare comprehensive briefing packs for candidates, outlining your key messages, policy asks, and the potential impact of proposed legislation.

Mobilise Your Grassroots Support

Activate Networks: Leverage your organisation’s network of members, supporters, and partners to amplify your messages. Encourage them to engage with candidates and participate in campaign events.

Public Campaigns: Launch targeted public awareness campaigns to highlight your key issues. Use social media, press releases, and opinion pieces to reach a broader audience and build public support.

Refresh Your Media & Communications Strategy

Media Outreach: Engage with journalists and media outlets to ensure your issues receive coverage. Offer expert opinions, case studies, and access to key spokespeople.

Content Creation: Produce a steady stream of content, including videos, and social media posts, to keep your issues at the forefront of the election discourse.

Crisis Management: Be prepared for potential backlash or misinterpretations of your positions. Have a crisis communication plan in place to address any issues swiftly and effectively.

Monitor & Adapt!

Real-Time Monitoring: Establish a system for monitoring political developments, candidate statements, and emerging issues. Tools like media monitoring services and social listening platforms can be invaluable.

Flexible Strategy:  Be ready to adapt your strategies based on the evolving political landscape. Flexibility and responsiveness are key to maintaining relevance and influence.

Internal Coordination and Preparation

Team Alignment: Ensure that all members of your public affairs team are aligned on messaging, strategies, and key objectives. Regular briefings and updates are essential.

Training and Resources: Provide training and resources to staff to effectively engage with candidates and the media. This includes talking points, Q&A documents, and presentation materials.

What’s your Post-Election Strategy?

Scenario Planning: Develop scenarios for different election outcomes and prepare action plans for each. This ensures that your organization is ready to engage with the new government, regardless of who wins.

Continued Relationship Building: Post-election, focus on building relationships with newly elected officials and their teams. Early engagement can set the stage for long-term influence and collaboration.

The next six weeks present a unique opportunity for public affairs teams to influence the political discourse and advocate for their causes. By acting swiftly, strategically, and collaboratively, organisations can ensure their voices are heard and their interests are represented in the upcoming general election. The key is to be proactive, well-prepared, and adaptable in this dynamic political environment.