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Campaigns – they’re not just for politicians anymore

Tom Clark

Fully integrated public affairs campaigns are required for any organization looking to persuade people and governments to create the support needed for a winning outcome. We craft well-researched, tightly-focused campaigns with defined goals and timelines to get organizations the results they need.

Politics has always been about persuasion. In years gone by, when the distance between business and politics and the key players in each space was basically non-existent, it was often about persuading a select few. Decisions were made by a small group of influential senior advisors to the political leader in question.  The necessity to engage with and persuade the public on a given issue was something well confined to elections.

That was then, this is now, and the world of political persuasion could not be more different.

Political systems in democracies around the world have changed. Scandals of political collusion bred public distrust and demanded a new set of rules. The new morality says that it doesn’t matter who you know. Being the recipient of government grace and favour now requires that a lot of people have to be convinced of the benefits of a project, before it can be considered ‘official’ by the system. Put another way, campaigns are now for everyone, anytime, and they are not an option, but a requirement.

In its simplest form, a campaign should create the safe public space for political actors to engage on behalf of the campaigner. In the hundreds of meetings beseeching support for policy change that every Minister takes each year, the recurring political question is “Why should I?”. Ministers and their staff are not being obstinate, they’re being practical. Even the best idea has to fit through the political filter that sorts things as “worthwhile” vs. “dangerous.”

This has less to do with ideology and more to do with survival. No elected official, or senior bureaucrat for that matter, wants to wander into something that hasn’t been tested for toxicity. They want to know that the parade in favour of the idea is already coming down the street, and there’s a place for them, usually in the rear. It all comes down to this: is there already a constituency for the idea or project, and is there one against it. To be politically acceptable, the yeas have to outnumber and outrank the nays.

To create a successful campaign, the people behind the idea need to firmly convince others that it’s a good idea. It’s not unlike an election campaign in that way, and the tools and strategies are remarkably similar. Supporters need to be identified, opponents need to be neutralized, and those who don’t know need to be wooed and ultimately brought along. The targets can be regional, demographic, or sector-specific, and the process has to have an identifiable goal and a limited timeline.

This is not about manipulation. In its most successful form, a campaign adds to the greater good. It educates, it raises issues and suggests answers. Ultimately, it brings in the political process to help achieve a better and more positive outcome for the community. It’s how progress happens in an open and transparent way.

At Global Public Affairs, we have people who have been involved at all levels of campaigns, both local and national. From a former Premier, to those who have led and worked in party war rooms, we know that understanding, designing and executing campaigns is a critical part of the value we can bring to the table.

Starting up with an idea is optional, but realizing it is mandatory.

We’re ready to go and we would love to talk to you about it.


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