Can you see me?

Painting by Bella Opacic

Be honest. Hand on heart. Would you feel confident getting in contact with a government minister about a local issue? If the answer’s no, and you’d like a bite-size bit of advice, here’s six steps to help you build your confidence.

Step 1: Believe it’s possible. Having a can-do mind-set goes a long way.

Step 2: Do your research. Who’s got responsibility over the issue in government? Who has it as a constituency challenge or a personal interest?

Step 3: Be clear about your issue and your solution. Think it through carefully and collect your evidence (stories and statistics that show you’ve made a difference to people’s lives).

Step 4: Create a perfect pitch. Following the “Six Ps” for pitching will help.

  • Position yourself: who are you?
  • Identify the problem.
  • Project forward into the future (what’s the wider impact?).
  • What’s your proposal to solve this problem?
  • What proof do you have to back this up?
  • What project are you currently working on?

Step 5: Gain access through you local MP, one of the minister’s special advisers or through someone you know who knows them.

Step 6:  Persevere . . . Dream the dream . . . But don’t put all your dreams in one basket.

If you have any tips you’d like to share on this topic then please do add a comment or get in contact. I’d love to hear from you. Please follow me on Twitter @businesses4good.

4 tips on how to make your press release statistics sing

Producing press releases is part of the public affairs professional’s job. Here’s four tips on how to make the stats in your press releases sing.

1. Paint a picture with your numbers and statistics. If those 7000 people were holding hands how far would that stretch? How many caravans would they fill?

2. Help people put the figure in some kind of perspective. So you’re spending that amount of money, but what’s so and so spending on what – compare and contrast.
3. Try human angles with a twist. You have a new CEO who’s done this, this and this and has a talent for . . . singing David Bowie . . .
4. Put your key statistics at the end of the press release in an easily accessible, readable form.
Please do share. I’d be glad to hear any of your ideas on this. Why not follow me on twitter @businesses4good. Always here if you need a bit of help on 07966 369579.

Parliament essentials/1: Free guides on how parliament works

Painting by Bella Opacic

Getting to grips with how parliament works can be a bit bewildering even to the most hardened UK public affairs professional. But there’s free help at hand with the House of Commons Information Office guides. These cover:

• what parliament does
• how it makes laws
• how it debates its business and much more.

Knowing how parliament works puts you in a better position to engage and influence and make change happen.

Quick tip: If you have a parliamentary query you can get free advice from the House of Commons Information Office on 020 7219 4272.

If you’d like some help on a specific public affairs issue – whether it’s policy, campaigning or lobbying – then why not contact me on 07966 369579. Please do leave a comment if you found this public affairs blog of interest.

Social Policy Insight/3: Making a good first impression

Communicating policy ideas simply to people is part of a public affair professional’s everyday business. Let’s imagine – for instance – that you’ve got a meeting with your local MP next week; and you want to “sell” them one of your ideas.

What kinds of questions would you be asking yourself to help you prepare? Here’s three that have always helped me:


  • What practical, innovative project have you got to showcase?
  • How do you know it works – impacting positively on people and the public purse?
  • What attention-grabbing stories have you got to illustrate your case?

Finally, a public affairs secret: MPs are always keen to hear about new, money-saving ideas that independent research shows works.

Keen to know whether this is helpful to you, so please do leave a comment; or you can follow me on twitter @businesses4good.

Social Policy Insight/2: Stress-free policy development

The birthday cake: sketch by Bella Opacic

Given their political and parliamentary know-how, public affairs professionals are often called on to help organisations select policy priorities. Here’s three tips to help you take the stress out of prioritising policy.

• Choose your top policy priority first, then move onto two and three. Once you have one agreed, the others tend to follow more easily. Be careful, a simple mistake you can make here is to be secretive about the selection process.

• Be clear about why you chose those policies. Why are they important? Why’s it an issue now? What financial impact could the proposed government policy change – for instance – have on your current services, your members, the people you support.

• Communicate those messages back to everyone who helped you choose them, and thank them. It’s your chance to connect up and keep people engaged in the policy conversation. It’s always helpful to add a call to action, even if it’s as simple as getting them to express an interest in getting more involved; or asking them to send stories (some people call them case studies) that focus on a policy priority.

Why not e-mail a policy question through to or add a comment.

Social policy insight/1: shaping policy with confidence

Sketch by Bella Opacic

Being able to shape policy is one of the key tools of a public affairs expert.

Put simply policy means what you think or believe around a particular issue, where you stand or position yourself. Do you believe that all older people should pay for their social care? Should volunteers be paid?

Here’s 3 tips to help you shape your policies with confidence.


Be clear about what your organisation’s strategic priorities are and what campaign, marketing and fund-raising is planned for the year ahead.

Listen to the people you support. Have a clear idea about the issues that matter to them and action change that benefits them.

Horizon scan. Ask yourself what the key issues in your sector are likely to be? What launches, consultations, white/green papers, announcements, reviews etc are about to happen? What emerging issues are expected in the medium to long-term? Use your networks and political monitoring services to help you.

If you want to know more about how to shape policy with confidence, then why not give us a call on 07966 369579 for a quick chat.

As a public affairs professional I’m used to shaping policy to influence.

The modern slavery story: the spirit of brotherhood?

Photo by Bella Opacic

Photograph by Bella Opacic

Media stories – like Leighton Buzzard and “modern slavery”  – can sometimes throw up hidden, cruel facts about our society; and start people talking. Talk is good. It’s a start. Media stories can also throw up startling  statistics. Evidence is good.  Here’s two statistics that help build a case for a committed, co-ordinated multi-agency approach to stop modern slavery in the UK.

• 5,000 people are in some form of forced labour in the UK (guess-timate from Anti-Slavery International)

• 1,481 reports were received by the UK Human Trafficking Centre of suspected trafficking in the two years up to end of March 2011.

The statistics sit uncomfortably with Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Right: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

If you want to know more about modern slavery, then this is a useful place to start: a Q and A by BBC Home Affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani.

Please do add a comment. I’d love to hear from you. What do you think?