Public affairs teams: 4 ways to prepare for the manifesto announcements

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With a snap UK General Election in just 6 weeks time, it won’t be long before the parties publish their manifestos and put their policy stakes in the ground.

There is no set time for this to happen, but it’s generally within a few days of each other – and public affairs teams should be prepared for it any moment now.

It’s too late to influence the content of the manifestos.

But their release, and the campaigning that follows, will bring proactive public affairs teams significant opportunities for building influence, getting their voices heard, and media moments to make the most of.

1. Map your stakeholder relationships

This is the first General Election in the UK since the boundary changes, and 105 MPs have announced that they will be standing down (16.2% of the House of Commons – the average at an election is usually 13%). 

Regardless of the election results, this level of change renders roughly 1 in 5 existing political relationships in the House of Commons redundant.

Public affairs teams will need to map their stakeholder relationships, identify where relationships will be lost and changed, and begin making a plan to build new relationships during the pre-election period, so that their position is secure regardless of the election outcome.

The manifestos will help you determine who is sympathetic to your campaign and policy asks, and how to frame your argument with less supportive stakeholders.

(Download our free General Election 2024 briefing for a full list of MPs due to stand down).

2. Be ready to analyse policy promises

Most parties have already given some steer as to what their manifestos are likely to include, and we know that given the current economic climate and public priorities (according to polling data) that this election will be heavily focused on cost of living, jobs and quality of life.

Public affairs teams need to position their message within this context to get cut-through and engage candidates, parties, the media and the general public.

With the polling data, policy intelligence and information we already have, you should now be working on how to make your message relevant.

Once the manifestos are announced, you will then be in a good position to act as ‘critical friend’ – encouraging those parties that have taken up policy asks you support, and encouraging others to do the same (within the parameters of the Electoral Commission regulations).

For a full briefing on current policy positions, polling data and campaigning law, download our free General Election 2024 briefing here.

3. Prepare to leverage media moments

Work with your PR agency or comms team to start pitching in your company or charity now, so that political correspondents and journalists can call on you when the manifestos are announced. 

The media also wants to hear policy pleas from industry, so don’t be afraid to pitch your spokespeople for expert comment.

Again, your arguments should be framed to be relevant to voters’ front-of-mind concerns, so use the polling data to frame your message – and don’t forget to brush up on media training for anyone you’re pitching in.

Our team has extensive experience media training politicians, CEOs, business and charity leaders – and if they can’t explain and defend your policy asks or opinions in 5 words or less, the message won’t get cut-through, especially during the mile-a-minute election news cycle!

4. Set up media monitoring now

We’re about to enter an extremely busy and fast moving news cycle and campaigning period.

Make sure all your media monitoring alerts are up to date, so that you can track what candidates and parties are saying about the issues that matter to you.

You should be preparing your messaging and position ready for television debates, as these can present significant ‘news jacking’ style opportunities to get your voice heard at key moments of public attention.

How we can help

181st Street is a full-service communications agency. Our team is made up of highly experienced public affairs professionals, policy researchers, former government advisors and green ambassadors. Our Public Affairs specialists have direct government experience, and we are the only sustainability-focused communications agency with a successful track record of changing policy in this country, securing wins for political parties and actively lobbying for change, leveraging behavioural science to shift public opinion and consumer/citizen behaviour.

We’ve helped shape policy on key issues from plastic packaging, food waste, and free school meals, to deforestation, sustainable fashion and anti-greenwashing legislation.

Download our free UK General Election briefing here, and if you would like support with your election campaign, media training, PR or communications, please get in touch: