The Inside Word

Handle With Gloves

I am not a political junkie. I am a marketing, branding, and comms operator with a family, career, small business, optimism for a decent social life, and a yearning for an hour in the day just for me. At the SAS Group, I spend my days with many lovable political junkies, and to say I am learning one or more new things every day is an understatement. But what has struck me the most is how, in working alongside said political junkies, I’ve learned that the art of effective government relations (a term I never thought I’d bandy about so frequently with even a modicum of understanding) is so much more than a well-planned pitch underpinned by a tonne of hope. You really have to put the gloves on and handle with care.

One of the bigger lessons for me is how important it is to know your ask and build trust slowly when it comes to dealing with MPs and Offices. It’s a long game if ever there was one. Politicians and their teams get countless requests and emails every day, so standing out with clear messaging and lots of patience is key. My colleagues at the SAS Group are wizards at knowing who to speak to, what to say, how to read the room and developing well-crafted messages that are purpose built for the particular office or MP you are meeting with. And at keeping on pushing when the response is still MIA. It’s impressive to see it come together.

I’ve also come to see how crucial it is to do your homework on your own requests. You cannot go in lukewarm or with an elevator pitch; you need to know your details and be prepared for any questions. Alongside being bombarded with requests, a politician or MP will have a mere handful of minutes to give you if you secure a face-to-face. So be ready, be agile and be ready to make your ask. That in itself is a whole separate bag of skill and expertise, and perhaps the most significant thing I’ve learned in the last year; don’t go at it alone.

That applies if you are a big, blue chip multinational, or a 2 person start up. You need a professional to sell your house, and you most definitely need a professional to engage the powers that be in office.

My time so far at the SAS Group has made me appreciate the complex world of government relations. It’s a field that needs not just knowledge and hard work but also a lot of empathy and people skills. While I might not be a political junkie, I’ve grown to respect the art and science of what we do at SAS. It’s a fascinating journey.

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