Assess Your Political Assets: Why Will Anyone Listen To You?

Posted by: on Jul 24, 2023 | No Comments

When it comes to political engagement, the starting point for organisations vary. Some may be more fortunate than others. Many have to invest significant time and effort in order to engage effectively. But the starting point for any organisation is to assess the political assets it has.

An initial assessment is not just necessary but crucial. You need to consider what your existing political assets are as this knowledge is a foundation block when developing a strategy. Some organisations may have more developed political assets. That could be because of previous hard work and effort. But they may be ‘accidental’. They could have been created by others, for instance knowledge of a sector created by others. It could be because of existing positive governmental interest. 

The initial assessment may though also throw up liabilities. The story may not always be positive. Political assets vary depending on the nature of the organisation, its goals, and the political context in which it operates. Assets will also change over time, depending on your own action, or inaction, and the wider political environment as well. For instance, changes may occur the closer a General Election comes.

We will often consider an organisation’s strengths and weaknesses (as well as opportunities and threats). But the idea of assets and liabilities enables us to think a little deeper. It can be more focused and nuanced. It also talks in a language that resonates throughout an organisation, not just with the communications team.

What are an organisation’s political assets?

What are the types of political assets that we should trying to identify from the outset? What should you be looking for?

  1. Political sentiment – you have to establish what political audiences think of you, your issues, positions, how you compare to competitors etc. Think about the stakeholder relationships you already but where they are lacking as well.
  2. Public perception – ascertain not just the levels but how these could impact on other stakeholder relationships as well.
  3. Resources – consider internal matters such as knowledge of the current legal and regulatory environment, financial resources available for engagement and skill levels of the team.
  4. Future plans – never forget that the future development plans of an organisation can add to political assets, or may reduce them. Such plans are often developed without reference to the public affairs team. So, as much as possible, consider plans are already in place, what their implications may be, and consider challenging them, if necessary.
  5. Benchmarking – always start with seeing what others are doing as well. This should be an ongoing process but it recognises that public affairs is competitive. We are always trying to capture the attention of a relatively few key stakeholders. An initial benchmarking allows you identify areas where you may have a competitive advantage or areas where you need to improve.

Next steps

Once you have the information then you can the strategy can mitigate risks and work towards improving your political position, leverage your strengthens. In other words, you can decide what action needs to be taken.

Such action could be internal or external or may require action with particular audiences.

For some, there may be an international element to factor in as well. Not all pressures are domestic in nature and sometimes but looking even further outwards, new potential assets or liabilities can be identified.

Assessing political assets and liabilities offers a more targeted and dynamic approach that aligns with the complexities, intricacies and ever-changing nature of the political landscape. It enables organisations to navigate political environments strategically and optimise their engagement and impact.