What does a 2022 government engagement calendar look like?
11 October 2021 at 4:32 pm
A great event can make a big difference to political stakeholders, writes Neil Pharaoh, who shares some things to remember when thinking about your engagement calendar for next year.
With many of us wishing this year was over already, 2022 cannot come fast enough. It will be an exciting year in government engagement, with both a federal election, and state elections in SA and Victoria. But what sort of things should you include in your yearly engagement calendar, given soon we will be allowed to socialise, network and engage in person once more?
There are a few really important things to remember when mapping your year government engagement-wise:
- Less is more – it is much better to do fewer things, in a well-planned way, than more.
- Spend more effort on the before and after, and less on the during – investing effort into the lead up and follow up rewards you in spades.
- Attention to detail is key – little things matter.
Let’s begin with less is more
It is much better to map your calendar from a government engagement perspective with a less is more approach. Doing one or two great events will be more impactful than a number of smaller offerings. When thinking about your events, engagements and opportunities – all the normal rules of events exist. People will usually forget what you say, but will not forget how you make them feel – so invest in the story, the feelings, and make sure you actively think about what feelings you want attendees to have, as this is what will be remembered.
Doing great events from a political engagement perspective is all about securing the cut through, whether it is an ambassador that political stakeholders enjoy meeting, or a one-off event which leaves a mark. Using ambassadors in events is one way of securing great cut through. I remember a drinks event at Parliament House in Canberra with a high-profile celebrity, where we secured almost half of parliament house attending the event for photos, and the opportunity to meet, greet and say hello – those photos are shared, and the impression left leaves a legacy. Many not for profits struggle for effective ways of using ambassadors, and political outreach is most certainly one great option.
Focus your attention on the before and after
Whether it is three months’ notice to save the date, long lead times for events, or hand-written thank you cards afterwards, you really need to spend as much time on the before and after as you can. Instead of just taking photos, send a printed and digital version to the attendees afterwards. Instead of just sharing on your social media, take the time to tag, schedule and provide content ahead of time to political attendees. Perhaps prewrite a social post for an attendee’s social media, or their newsletter. Look to have your goodie bag or give away relate to the day, and be meaningful with intent.
Focus on the detail
A long, long time ago I was the government engagement manager for an organisation working in the early education space. We were opening a new centre, and I can still remember the attention to detail that went into making the opening a great event for government funders in attendance, as well as for philanthropic donors to the centre. From hand written cards reminding people that “from little things, big things grow”, to a plant for them to take home, ot dozens of tiny coloured watering cans which each VIP used to water the gardens of the centre after it was officially opened – we spent a large amount of time and effort making sure detail was key throughout. The result was great political engagement, as well as engagement from the philanthropic funders – “one of the best openings we have attended” was something we heard from many attendees.
For those of you experienced in event management, there may be nothing new in my reflections today, except perhaps a reminder that a great event can make a big difference to political (and other) stakeholders.
About the author: Neil Pharaoh has spent most of his voluntary and professional life in and around social purpose organisations, government, public policy, and advocacy. Neil has been behind many leading social policy and advocacy campaigns on gender rights, equality, medical research, and education, and ran for Parliament in Victoria in 2014 and 2018. Neil is co-founder and director of Tanck, which focuses on better engagement with government, and regularly runs workshops and advocacy sessions and advises leading social purpose organisations on their government engagement strategy and systems.
Happenings on the hill is a fortnightly column focusing on all things politics, policy, campaigns and advocacy. Stay tuned for updates around political trends and elections, lobbying and advocacy news, and hints, tips and ideas on government engagement that are specifically written for the social purpose/for purpose sector.