Incorporating elected officials into your events is a great way to build relationships with key decision-makers and achieve maximum exposure for your event. Common opportunities are ribbon-cuttings, groundbreakings, major announcements, roundtables or conferences. Avoiding these three common mistakes can help ensure your next experience working with elected officials goes without a hitch.
1. Ignoring elected officials
Between local, state and federal government, there are likely to be many elected officials that are relevant to your organization. You don’t want to get off on the wrong foot by leaving someone important out.
Remember to consider your event as an opportunity to establish and grow relationships with a number of elected officials and invite all those with a connection. Start by inviting those who represent your organization’s district/municipality. Also, do your homework and see if your event is related to an issue they are involved with, a topic they’re passionate about or funding/policy from their level of government.
2. Not preparing staff in advance
Generally, politicians don’t like surprises unless it puts them on the winning end of an upset. So waiting until just before your event is not the ideal time to bring elected officials up to speed on what’s about to happen. If they don’t know what they’re walking into, it could end up making them and you look bad.
Making their bosses look good is in the job description of all political staffers. Help them help you by providing them an agenda, background, media materials, potential questions and answers, prepared remarks or talking points, media outlets invited and attending, even driving directions and parking. Relationships with staff can be as valuable as those with elected officials, so you definitely want them on your side.
3. Overlooking backup plans
Schedules for elected officials are often jam-packed and it’s not uncommon for them to be running behind, rushing off to another obligation immediately after, or even canceling at the last minute. It’s variables like this, that are beyond your control, which can make event planning so stressful. But just like you would have contingency plans for the inclement weather, you need to be organized and prepared for the unexpected when working with elected officials.
Stay in constant communication with your vendors and participants, especially if the event date is a moving target to accommodate specific VIPs and elected officials. Also, keep your agenda flexible to allow for changes to the speaking roles and order, whether it’s moving a speaker up or back to accommodate their schedules or getting a different elected official to fill in for a cancellation.
At Tipping Point Communications, we recognize the value that strong relationships with decision-makers and stakeholders can bring to your organization or cause. Clients from a wide range of industries turn to us to leverage our expertise with public affairs, special events and media relations to make a lasting impression with their audiences. Contact us to learn more about our capabilities and how we can help you take your events and campaigns to the next level.