Top tips for effective political engagement

14 September 2020 - by Erin Delaney

The NI Assembly is back from recess, so what do you need to make sure your organisation has an effective public affairs strategy?

Whilst planning for an online training event this week, we have been thinking about some top tips for ensuring that you are primed to deliver a focused and impactful engagement strategy that cuts through the noise and gets results.

We have been working with clients for over 20 years, through suspensions, walk-outs and everything in between, but no matter what the context, the foundations for good engagement endure. 

  1.      Ensure you have a political monitoring system in place

Whilst there is a tendency to say that nothing ever changes in politics, this couldn’t be further from the truth in the past nine months. With the Assembly returning after three years, a new deal struck by the Executive parties followed quickly by a pandemic, not to mention the end of the transition period fast approaching, the pace of change in politics and public policy has been unprecedented, and so it is more important than ever to make sure you keep up to date with how this impacts your organisation or sector.

Plenary in the Assembly on Monday and Tuesday, increasingly frequent committee meetings taking place throughout the week, Executive and departmental announcements and political developments in the House of Commons and its committees, it is a full time job to monitor what’s happening across these islands.

  1.      Don’t wait for a crisis

The basis of effective public affairs is pro-active engagement with stakeholders rather than waiting for a crisis. Whilst this might seem like common sense, with the Assembly on ice for three years and subsequent COVID crisis, many had put their political engagement on hold, directing resource elsewhere. However, public affairs, now more than ever, is critical in supporting you to get your message across to government. You need to ensure they understand and can support your organisation, and use the opportunity to shape the rebuild to align with your objectives. 

  1.      Engage other stakeholders

As well as political stakeholders, there are many others in your sector – and beyond – who may play a role in your strategy. Mapping and engaging stakeholders provide strong foundations for delivering effective public affairs, enabling you to manage opportunities and threats, and measure progress.

  1.      Shape the policy environment

Shaping the policy agenda to reflect your desired outcomes will enable you to provide leadership in your sector, by delivering a programme of activity that positions your organisation in a central role to influence the conversation. This might include hosting policy roundtables, media platforms, events (virtual for the time being!), shaping Assembly debates and delivering advice to government. We can help develop and deliver an innovative engagement plan that puts your organisation at the heart of the issue.

  1.      Ask the experts

Leading the public affairs industry locally for over 20 years, Stratagem is best placed to advise organisations on strategy, having shadowed the Assembly and MLAs throughout its lifetime, and can offer expertise in political and institutional processes. We have a track record in changing the law, delivering award-winning campaigns, and supporting organisations engage with government, and our team of experts across Belfast and London will work as part of your team to deliver the outcomes you need.

Stratagem can support you with a full service public affairs package, please get in touch to find out more about our services and for a quote.