Guides

Hosting a 'Welcome Back' Event

Tuesday or Wednesday, drinks or dinner. Here's how to make 'welcome back' events work for you.

'Welcome back' events are a popular tool in advocacy strategies, presenting the opportunity to build relationships, test agendas and cement plans for the year ahead.

Welcome back to Canberra

With a flurry of events usually held to wrap up the previous year, organising an event to kick off the new year is likely to receive higher attendance rates due to less conflicting commitments. 

A Canberra event should preferably be held in one of the hireable rooms in Parliament House, or in a venue very close by, for example in Barton, Deakin or Manuka, to make it as easy as possible for politicians and their staff to attend.

Off-site venues are ideal on nights when Parliament rises early, excluding Thursdays when MPs and staff leave to catch a plane home. For nights when Parliament stays late, consider hosting an event in one of the gallery rooms during the dinner break.

Welcome back to the states 

If your stakeholders include state governments, then there is no reason not to consider a welcome back event in state capitals using the same model as Canberra.

States with upcoming elections are obvious priorities if you deal with those governments. Just be mindful of caretaker periods, and focus attention on Ministers and their staff rather than backbenchers who will be focused on campaigning in their local electorates, especially those in marginal seats.

Drinks or dinner?

The answer to the conundrum of whether to hold a dinner or a cocktail reception is simple: who are your primary targets and how many of them are there?

Rather than hosting a large event, it may be more appropriate and strategic to invite one to three relevant Ministers and key staff to a sit-down dinner with key people from your organisation. The same can be done with Shadow Ministers and their staff.

Add a fundraising component

Some organisations host their welcome back events as bipartisan affairs, which obviously has its advantages. However, by holding two smaller events (one for the coalition and one for the opposition) you can add a fundraising element, for example an auction or tickets sold to clients to attend. There are a range of possible fundraising options, which also help further your organisation's relationship with both major parties.

Is your resolution to make this your best year for political advocacy yet? Reach out to see how our government relationship tools can enhance your engagement.

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