Writing Compelling Submissions

How to write submissions that resonate with policy-makers

Despite sometimes feeling like the equivalent of sending a message in a bottle and wondering if it will ever be read, written submissions are still a valuable part of advocacy and should form a key component of your overarching government relations strategy.

Especially important when putting forward complex positions or amending legislation, written submissions are a strategic way to contribute to the government’s decision-making processes and influence future direction. 

Individuals, businesses, not-for-profits, peak bodies, employer groups and industry associations all can (and do!) write government submissions frequently, so what are four ways to make your next submission stand out from the crowd?

Be concise and engaging – avoid over-reliance on jargon and get straight to the point – use your executive summary to provide everything they need to know without having to read through the entire document. Remember - your submission must be just as accessible to a subject matter expert as it is to a high school student….and just like high schoolers, it may be hard to keep the attention of some members of government. Use relevant case studies, statistics and factual evidence to keep the submission engaging, as well as substantiating your main points and recommendations. 

Be proactive and persistent – don’t just write up a submission, hand it in and then forget all about it. In order to get cut-through with decision makers, submissions must be leveraged with other communication methods  send copies to relevant political staffers, opposition MPs and crossbenchers, and use it as a prompt to discuss it in person. When done well, there's no substitute for face-to-face communication.

Be specific and relevant – tailor your submission's cover letter to the recipient and make explicit what's in it for them. If your proposal creates jobs in particular areas, underscore that to the local MP, but emphasise the overall economic benefit to the Treasurer. Do your research on what individuals’ priorities or passions are and highlight the points that will resonate to make your message more persuasive. Although you may have a lot to say, remember to keep your submission relevant to the reader and with each inclusion ask yourself “why should they care?”. 

Be prepared and persuasive - government stakeholders may seek further information on your submission or feedback on the implementation of recommendations. This is an opportunity to be involved in future plans, so make sure from the very beginning your submissions are realistic and ready to be implemented. Have counter arguments at the ready, and prepare by exchanging submissions with your adversaries. Knowing what they're saying to mutual government stakeholders will help you identify the most powerful counter arguments - the best offense is a good defense!

Need an easy way to track politicians' policy positions and other details? Contact us to see how our government relationship management tool could help enhance your submissions and overall government-relations strategy. To learn more on the ins and outs of inquiries, and steps through the strategic submission-making process, see our Advoc8 White Paper Series.

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