Building Trust with Policy Makers

Whether it's pitching policy change or a business idea, people 'buy' from those they trust

Whether it's pitching policy change or a business idea, people buy from those they trust. This is why advocacy groups, businesses and NGOs alike, all go to great efforts to prove they're credible organisations that can make constructive contributions to the policy debate.

It won't happen overnight, but incorporating these four principles will help build trusted relationships with your key stakeholders, whether meeting with Ministers, backbenchers or engaging the public service.

1. Act with integrity

Aside from the obvious stuff like disclosing conflicts of interest and who you're representing, acting with integrity means being honest - always. Sure there will be times when the need to maintain confidentiality will limit what you can say, whether for commercial, interpersonal or other reasons. So, say so. Your every action should be saying to government 'of course I'll tell you what I know, and when I can't, I'll let you know'.

2. Be bipartisan (even pan-partisan)

Briefing the Labor Environment Minister? Then brief the Liberal Shadow, the Greens spokesperson and any other MP that's expressed an interest in your cause. This not only shores up capital for when governments change, but gives valuable insight into their views and also any political sensitivities surrounding your issue, allowing you to become an informed and empowered adviser.

3. Back yourself with facts

In terms of research, if you've only ever written scores of briefing notes, it might be time to take it to the next level. Write an issues paper, co-author research with an academic, or commission a third-party report (Working with a small budget? Rest assured, it's possible to conduct research that won't break the bank!) The goal is to aggregate evidence that supports your case, and frame it in a way that's going to have the most impact with that particular stakeholder.

4. Keep in regular contact

Whether it's sharing media releases with relevant staffers or sending a regular newsletter on industry issues, building trust means being proactive and consistent in your communications. Check-in regularly to see if there's any information you can provide about your organisation or industry, and invite your stakeholders to catch-up, even if it's over a quick cup of coffee.

You can record and track every government interaction against Advoc8 GRM's pre-populated politician database. Request a demo here.

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