UK 2024 Election year- Are You Prepared?

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At our Engaging Networks Community Conference in London, Paul De Gregorio, founder of Rally, Helen Hector, strategy director at Forward Action, Rhiannan Sullivan, vice president of strategy and partnerships at Care2, and Georgie Laming director of campaigns and communications at Hope Not Hate, shared insights and ideas on how organisations can maximise an election year to grow and mobilise their base to fundraise successfully. 

Elections create opportunities to advance issues

An election is an exciting time to grow and mobilise your organisation’s base and raise the profile of your issues. While you may feel an instinct to pull back from the noise, rest assured this is an opportune time to engage more supporters and expand your overall communications efforts.  

With a bit of planning, leveraging of the right tools, and an understanding that it is okay for strategies to be fluid, elections are a massive opportunity for organisations to reach new audiences, engage them with compelling digital content, and convert them into active supporters. 

As the July 2024 election in the UK approaches, this is a critical opportunity for organisations to ramp up their digital mobilisation and communication strategies. Our panel of experts weighed in on their insights to plan for success, and we will highlight some Engaging Networks solutions to help you reach your goals.

“Now’s not the time to pause any fundraising activities. There are absolutely opportunities for fundraising regardless if it’s an election year or not. It’s about channelling that anxiety of an election into actions about your issue and sharing your messaging.”

Rhiannan Sullivan, vice president of strategy and partnerships at Care2

Build your base

In any communications strategy, you need to consider your audiences and what you want to say. The lead up to an election is a key opportunity to expand the ‘who’ and to refine the ‘what.’   

Ideally you have strategies in place year-round to steadily build your base of supporters. With an increase in people talking about issues important to them, the lead up to an election is an opportunity to supercharge your base building. Paid social media advertising is one common method. The summer months are great for paid social when the cost per lead is generally at its lowest. You can also leverage low-barrier to entry tactics like hand-raisers and open letters to expand your base. 

Engaging Networks offers a variety of solutions to help you focus your strategy and avoid potential oversaturation with these tactics. 

“I think it is really important to remember that your crowd is out there. There are people that are passionate about what you do. Even if it’s not on the news, people are angry and motivated to take action on your cause.”

Helen Hector, strategy director at Forward Action

Prepare your messaging

Align your messaging for an election by talking to your board members and senior leaders and agree on what you want to say, and what you want people to do. This will help you avoid ‘crisis mode’ when an election is called, even if it’s a snap election! Rapid response is a critical part of an election strategy. When you create internal alignment early-on, you will be able to capitalise on opportunities created by unexpected moments down the road.

Raise your profile and activate when your moment comes

Some issues may be more prevalent in public conversations and political news cycles than others, but there is opportunity to plug into the discourse if your organisation knows how to listen. Particularly for tight local elections, it is crucial to listen to conversations online, and be prepared to insert yourself into them with the right messaging. 

Few organisations know when or how their golden moment will happen. Prepare to be nimble so when your organisation runs high in the news, which will happen for most organisations at some point, you are ready with key interventions and messages so voters will think of you in the polling booth.

Engaging Networks has several marketing tools to help your organisation respond effectively to your listening insights. 

Harness the passion of your supporters 

Supporters that are passionate about your issues may sometimes challenge your methods. Staying focused on your goals and messaging can reinforce your position and deescalate potential conflict. Then you can find ways for these supporters to channel their energies into being productive for your organisation as a volunteer.

One of the most powerful ways to engage your supporters is to give them good digital content that will resonate with their passion for your organisation. They want to hear from you and help make a difference. 

If you are worried about oversaturation, rely on the data. Monitor open rates and unsubscribes and let the numbers dictate if you need to alter your approach. By using Engaging Networks marketing tools, you can automate this data tracking to free up more time to create engaging content.

Manage the chaos

If a strategy is truly not working, it is okay to pivot. Elections can be fickle. Perhaps a cultural moment completely changes the context in which your campaign was planned out. Maybe a candidate announces something completely unexpected. Maintain the spirit of your campaign issues, but if you have to throw a plan out and come up with something new, don’t be afraid to make the move. 

“I think there is something in embracing the chaos. At some point, your spreadsheet will get ripped up and you have to be okay about that. Your board will sign off a meticulous election strategy, which you will not use. Focus on the basic principles that you want for your election campaign, rather than trying to map it out.”

Georgie Laming director of campaigns and communications at Hope Not Hate

The work does not stop after the election

However the results of an election impact your organisation, a post-election engagement strategy is key. Have a plan on holding the newly elected parliament to account. Continue to leverage your supporter base in keeping the volume turned high on your issues. If a candidate made a promise to support your issues after being elected, prepare to continue lobbying for support as soon as possible and not months down the road. 

At Engaging Networks, we are here to support you with a variety of solutions to keep your momentum going and your supporters engaged and actively advocating for your issues.

ENCC London 2024 Engaging Networks panel on preparing for the upcoming UK election, July 4th, 2024

Key takeaways: 

  • It’s important to build your base as early as you can before the election, so once the date is announced you can transition from pure acquisition to focus on activating your supporters. 
  • Know what your organisation wants to say about the key points relevant to your issues so if you have to change strategies or tactics, you can focus on those logistics and not get overwhelmed in ‘crisis-mode’ scrambling on what to say.
  • Proactively look for opportunities to insert yourself into relevant conversations and be ready to activate messaging and engagement tactics when you are thrust to the top of the news cycle. 
  • Solidify your internal alignment from boards to senior management on digital strategies and tactics to deploy your approved messaging. 
  • Embrace the passion of your supporters and empower them to advocate for your organisation by engaging in two-way conversations. 
  • Don’t assume the grass is greener on the other side of an election if your candidate wins. Be ready to do the follow-up work and continue to engage your supporters to hold parliament to account.
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