By Natanael Bloch (pictured), Group Account Director at Thrive PR + Communications
While the count is not over in several seats, Labor has been successful in Australia’s Federal Election, and will form a Government. Though some questions are still to be addressed in the coming days (Liberal leadership, Ministerial appointments, etc.), the work for communications and public affairs professionals has already begun. Here are three key areas industry professionals can start to work on now, in the days immediately after the Australian election result, for the benefit of our clients and our broader ecosystems: inform, propose and anticipate!
1. Inform your clients
We probably do not realise how deeply aware of what happens within the political landscape our professional ecosystems (agencies, media, etc.) are. But some of our clients are not necessarily as interconnected as we are. Case-by-case, consider what kind of information your clients need to know about the Australian election result. Australian agencies may also have some clients whose headquarters (and sometimes direct clients) are based in New Zealand and / or APAC (Singapore, Hong Kong), and who may benefit from this knowledge sharing.
A one-page document with some general information, first key takeaways and learnings of the result would be the first output to share with clients. This can be updated in the following days, according to the importance of the new pieces of information we would like to communicate with clients: make-up of the new Government, retirement announcements of some politicians after the defeat, etc. For some clients, this information could be considered as a simple FYI (and they may be across everything). But for others, you will be the first and / or only external provider of services who will communicate this information to them. It is an excellent way to strengthen the agency-client relationship!
2. Propose some first recommendations: “quick wins” and first liaison with MPs
(short to mid-term
Besides the general information for your clients, there are some recommendations and actions that are easy to implement for agencies, and to leverage on behalf of your clients:
- Letters of congratulations for victorious MPs
- A mapping programme for the next couple of months
- Proposal of meetings with the local Federal MP and their teams (easier at this stage to do with re-elected MPs, as it is likely the team around the MPs will remain the same).
This will show proactivity and understanding of client challenges, as well as engaging your clients as soon as possible about their new environment.
If there is a piece of burning news that your client is working on, this is also the opportunity to remind your MP what it is about and what you expect from them. After an election, there is always a “period of grace” that communications and public affairs professionals will benefit from! If the MP is re-elected, this is the opportunity to remind them of the work your client has done with them on a specific topic and emphasise the fact that you would like to maintain a good working relationship. On the other hand, if the MP is a newly elected one, this is the opportunity to bring to their knowledge some topics that matter to your client.
Either way, getting in touch quickly with MPs has another virtue for your clients: it can position your client as an important voice and a source of authority in the long-term when it comes to Federal politics. It will be crucial when new Parliamentary committees are composed, as you could be one step ahead of other organisations!
3. Anticipate and plan strategies
(short to long-term
The days after the election result are full of unknowns and uncertainty. That is a tremendous opportunity to map for your clients a couple of scenarios and propose some prospective recommendations. What could be the new policies carried by an Australian Labor government, and how will it impact your clients and their key sectors? What influence could the new Independent MPs have on the Australian political landscape? Among the new Parliament, who will be your five key MPs to defend your client’s interests?
Australian elections create new opportunities for public debate, and you should take the opportunity to establish lasting relationships with policymakers and opinion leaders for the benefit of your clients. This is also a good time to recheck (and potentially reshape) your entire public affairs plan, from the initial situation analysis until the ultimate monitoring of the impact, through your key messages platform and your objectives and key audiences definition.
This is Week One for the 47th Parliament of Australia. This is also Week One for communication professionals to adapt their public affairs programme for their clients.
Natanael Bloch is a Group Account Director at Thrive PR + Communications and has worked with business leaders, governments, and organisations across Australia, France and Europe in sectors spanning health, infrastructure, energy, transport, FMCG and technology.