Close Search
 
MEDIA, JOBS & RESOURCES for the COMMON GOOD
Happenings on the hill  |  PolicyAdvocacy

Wishing you a very government engagement Christmas…


6 December 2021 at 6:22 pm
Neil Pharaoh
In this final Happenings on the Hill for 2021, Neil Pharaoh looks back on some of the great, and not so great, traits of organisations who excel (or don’t) in their government engagement. 


Neil Pharaoh | 6 December 2021 at 6:22 pm


0 Comments


 Print
Wishing you a very government engagement Christmas…
6 December 2021 at 6:22 pm

In this final Happenings on the Hill for 2021, Neil Pharaoh looks back on some of the great, and not so great, traits of organisations who excel (or don’t) in their government engagement. 

As 2021 comes to a close it is important to reflect upon the year that was. Many advocacy battles have been won and lost across the social purpose sector, and by the many organisations who have been involved in policy, advocacy and campaigning, at both state and federal level. 

To round out the year I wanted to reflect on some of the biggest mistakes and best examples of government engagement I came across in 2021. 

The biggest mistakes

It doesn’t matter how many times you tell someone they should be focused on more than just the minister, many will still not listen. This is by far the most common misconception in campaigns and advocacy. Today’s candidates are tomorrow’s MPs, next week’s ministers, next month’s premier and next year’s feather dusters. If your engagement strategy is centralised around one minister (or minister’s office), you are playing a limited life expectancy game. And if you only approach the minister when you want something, it is even more turbulent. Build relationships, not transactions.

If you can’t pick up the phone and call or text someone out of the blue – your network isn’t as strong as you think. Whether lobbyist, CEO or board member, meeting one politician once at a venue a few years ago does not mean you have a “relationship” with them. If you can’t call someone out of the blue, and have them actually pick up the phone (many would not even have their mobile numbers), you need to invest more in the relationship.

Nobody cares about your annual report (or other document which is 50 pages long). Yes, you may have a highly nuanced, specific, academically referenced and fully cited piece of material, but unless you can simplify it, enable others to be part of it, and have someone share the problem and solution in a simple and clear way you will not succeed. I think Einstein once had a quote along the lines of “If you can’t say something simply and easily, you do not genuinely understand the issue”. Even the most complex problems should be able to be simplified so that people (and politicians) can understand it. 

And now onto the best 

These may seem common sense, but if you can pull these off you have genuinely unlocked the secret of government advocacy and campaigning. 

By far the most successful organisations we work with in relation to government engagement are hungry to learn. Whether it be listening and acting on advice, or testing different approaches until they find the one which works for them, those which engage in active learning and listening by far do the best. This listening and learning includes when they meet MPs and government stakeholders – they genuinely reflect on activities we have done together, as well as the politics of the person they are meeting. 

Play a long game, and build relationships along every step of the way. We keep a rough count in the office of the funding successes, policy changes, and legislative and regulatory achievements of our clients – and always tend to find the organisations which focus on relationship building perform best. A second skill which all successful social purpose organisations have in relation to working with government is they are focused on the relationships, at every step of the way. No person is too small to be ignored, or too irrelevant to engage with – building rapport, networks, and connections accelerate all types of political outcomes. 

Do the work, and take no shortcuts – whether it is mapping data to electorates, or reading biographies and maiden speeches, spending time cutting policy proposals so that they sound good on both progressive and conservative sides of the fence or preparing documents specifically for a meeting. A stitch in time does save nine, being deliberate, strategic and systematic leads to the best outcomes. 

This festive season with an election approaching, use the downtime wisely as we count down to the election, remember it is never too late to start your advocacy and campaigning journey. 

If you came across any big ideas, problems, or suggestions for happening on the hill in 2022, please shoot me an email to neil@tanck.com.au 

Wishing you all a very safe festive season and new year!

 

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. 


Neil Pharaoh  |  @ProBonoNews

Neil Pharaoh has spent most of his voluntary and professional life in and around social purpose organisations, government, public policy and advocacy.

PB Careers
Get your biweekly dose of news, opinion and analysis to keep you up to date with what’s happening and why it matters for you, sent every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

Got a story to share?

Got a news tip or article idea for Pro Bono News? Or perhaps you would like to write an article and join a growing community of sector leaders sharing their thoughts and analysis with Pro Bono News readers? Get in touch at news@probonoaustralia.com.au or download our contributor guidelines.

Get more stories like this

FREE SOCIAL
SECTOR NEWS

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

Community services struggle in Covid’s shadow

Maggie Coggan

Tuesday, 21st December 2021 at 7:30 am

Fierce community campaign to stop quarry build comes out on top

Maggie Coggan

Thursday, 16th December 2021 at 8:14 am

The ‘fatal flaw’ plaguing policy making in Australia

Luke Michael

Tuesday, 14th December 2021 at 3:24 pm

Charities shocked and angry as deal done on political campaigners bill

Wendy Williams

Thursday, 2nd December 2021 at 8:28 am

pba inverse logo
Subscribe Twitter Facebook
×