I met with my dragon business mentor recently, right after he had been interviewed by the Australian newspaper and then done a spot on National TV. I wondered what he was doing that for, apart from the PR grandstand opportunity (and getting his company seen). It was a lot more compelling than that, as I soon learned.
His question to me was, “How are you engaging the political process?” I didn’t immediately see the link between media and politics until then. The dragon writes regularly for newspapers and takes radio and TV interviews, then gets invited to speak to government. He’s seen as an industry voice, and an expert in his field. Politics seems ethereal, beyond me somehow. It is something we vote for every three years. Apart from imposing taxes and onerous legislation, each layer of government has numerous issues that relate to my business and industry.
My business mentor helped me see that politics is not just much about control and red tape. It is one of the most strategic things we can touch. Political process comes in at three levels:
* Federal: foreign affairs, social security, currency, defence, trade, commerce & industrial relations;
* State: parks and wildlife, justice, health, education, transport, and consumer affairs;
* Local: sanitation, waste, local roads, recreation, public health, land, buildings & zoning.
You can see government has much to do with business, and they create many avenues for engagement. There are hearings, royal commissions, consultative committees, public hearings, political advocacy groups for industry, chambers of commerce, social planning agencies, government departments, PR and media divisions and so forth.
Have you ever written to your local member? Do you even know who they are? They’re elected to represent you in parliament. Have you ever read a submission, or media release or a senate committee request for information? What are the organs of engagement in political issues that affect you? What steps could you take to engage strategically with your industry?