Any public affairs practitioner will tell you that effective engagement with Parliament is paramount to being a good lobbyist. And who could offer a better insight in how to do this than those who have worked on both sides of the fence?
That is why on Wednesday evening, we were proud to host Luke Pollard, (former Field Consulting Director turned MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport) and Gemma Doyle (former MP for West Dunbartonshire turned Managing Director for FTI Consulting), to discuss what good lobbying looks like.
The event: Inside Out; Perspectives from the lobbyist and the lobbied, was run by the Public Relations and Communication Association’s (PRCA) NextGen PA Committee, which exists to represent young consultants in the industry.
Luke and Gemma had plenty to say in what was a lively discussion, chaired by Field’s own Jon Andrew, who sits on the NextGen PA committee. The room was in agreement that while lobbyists and MPs sometimes get a bad name, both jobs are crucial to the policy process and to the functioning of our political system.
But the MP/lobbyist relationship can be fractious one. Lobbyists can be viewed by MPs as ‘time thieves’ trying to get you on the phone for the ninth time that day to discuss their latest pitch. There is also plenty of bad lobbying, adversarial interactions, and briefings which fail to get to the point, which are all sure-fire ways to ensure that your objectives are not met.
Other practices that cause dismay to the panel are lobbyists requesting meetings for the sake of meetings, or sending lengthy briefings at the end of the week when no one will be on hand to read them. Ultimately, MPs get endless correspondence and have very busy lives. To get their attention, you need to get to the point and engage them on things they will personally care about.
It was a fun evening, with free-flowing discussion (and wine), and we would like to thank the NextGen PA Committee for giving young consultants the opportunities to explore these important issues for our industry.