Last week, in partnership with Ellwood Atfield, Women in Public Affairs held the latest workshop in our ‘Public Affairs Leadership Series’ on how to get the most out of Party Conference season.
Emily Walch, Executive Director of External Affairs at the BBA and former government Special Adviser to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and Elin de Zoete, Managing Director of PLMR shared their conference experiences and top tips to a packed room of women.
So how do you get the most out of Party Conference season?
First and foremost, remember why conference exists.
It is an opportunity for MPs and Ministers to meet their activist base. With that in mind, you need to be absolutely clear about what you want to get out of party conference season. That should determine how to make best use of your time and company or client resource.
Conference is busy, pressured and overwhelming so once your aims are clear, make the effort to plan a detailed schedule of meetings and events.
This should include all logistical details and mobile numbers of everyone you will be either meeting or having speak on a panel. Have a back-up schedule too. Conferences are unpredictable and nothing ever fully goes to plan so be adaptable and have a second option available. This is particularly helpful if you are looking after clients – if an MP meeting gets cancelled maybe you could take them to see a Minister’s speech in the main conference hall instead? This might not be plan A but it’s better than hanging around with nothing to do.
Finally, be creative.
If you’re trying to target Ministers, think about their activist base, play on the constituency element and think about who are the key people shaping the party from within.
A number of the Women in Public Affairs Committee will be at both Labour and Conservative Party Conference this year. We’ll be arranging drinks at both so keep an eye on our twitter account for details.
Written by Roisin Watson, Executive Committee member, Women in Public Affairs
Picture by: Stefan Rousseau / PA Archive/Press Association Images. A delegate reads the conference newspaper before the opening of a morning session of an annual Party conference.