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Why trade associations need to ramp up their communications in a General Election year

It’s hard to think that this year’s ‘will they /won’t they’ question has been dominated by the General Election. However, following months of speculation around when Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will call an election, the announcement was finally made, albeit on a wet and dreary May afternoon.

While the uncertainty around the date of the election was causing some disruption, for trade associations, the announcement will no doubt present a sharp increase in pressure from members. Any good trade body not only lobbies Government officials on behalf of its members, acting as the conduit between businesses and policy decision makers, but perhaps more importantly, it’s also the main source of information during periods of change.

Growing demand for more member communication

In the few weeks before the General Election, your members will want to know what the main party manifestos contain, how they relate to their business and sector, and what your view is on their plans. And this pressure won’t end after 4th July.

Regardless of who ends up in power, the political landscape will experience a significant shift. And while the summer weeks may see parliament disbanded, it won’t necessarily mean a reprieve for trade bodies. Instead, in the immediate period after the election members will want to hear your plan of action.

Any initial strategies for the year may need to pivot to a new Government or a change in policy focus. That makes communications with members between now and the end of the year (which for most marks the critical renewals season) more crucial than ever.

Here’s what trade associations and trade bodies can do to ensure they are delivering the best possible value for members:

  • Increase communication frequency: We’re already seeing just how quickly the political agenda is changing on a day-to-day basis. That means that the content you’ve prepared on a Monday for a Wednesday mailer could be out of date before the draft is approved. Rather than trying to shoe-horn everything into your usual marketing and communications, focus on dedicated political activities. Everything from a daily round-up of the latest election news to an end-of-week politics summary can ensure you are acting as the prime source of relevant information for your members. This will only add value to their relationship with you – the more they view you as a critical part of their business, the more likely they are to renew at the end of the year.
  • Be publicly vocal: Your members see you as the voice of their industry and they need to hear that voice in public platforms now more than ever. Ensure your press team or agency, if you use one, is fully equipped and prepared to get quick reactions to new political announcements into key media outlets. Responses to party manifestos as and when they are published - which includes your recommendations or thoughts on how elements may benefit the sector you serve – will help demonstrate to current and potential members why you are the best body or association to represent them.
  • Monitor and reports on success: Of course, there’s the immediate actions that need to be taken, but in the longer-term, make sure you’re recording and reporting on the added value you’re bringing to the table. By the time renewals season comes around, a Government will have been appointed and the country will have moved on to a new challenge. Being able to report as part of your renewals communication strategy that you increased member communications during the critical run-in period, lobbied MPs in the weeks following the election date or provided insights into what each of the parties’ manifestos would mean for your sector, will help demonstrate why members should renew with you.

Robust trade association communication during the election

Good member communication is necessary at any time, but in a year of political upheaval, it could be the catalyst for your best ever member renewal figures, or your worst. For some trade associations, ramping up member engagement and marketing activities may put significant pressure on already under-resourced teams.

At BlueSky PR we have the experience, knowledge and media connections to help whether that’s on a project basis for the next few weeks or a more permanent strategic level for the rest of the year.

Book a call with me today to discuss how we can help you.

VickieAuthor: Vickie Collinge

Over the last 15 years Vickie has worked with many trade associations and recruitment agencies to raise their profile across their specialist areas.

Vickie is an expert in demonstrating her clients’ thought leadership and showing them how to use it. She can turn a short conversation with you into gold.

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