Engaging with your politicians and councillors

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Once you’ve researched who your MSPs, MPs and Councillors are, you can choose which form of contact is the most appropriate for you and your organisation:

  • Follow them on social media
  • Write to them
  • Attend a surgery
  • Invite them to an event you are organising

In total you will be represented by around 12 politicians and councillors. If you don’t have time to contact them all, start with one or two and see what kind of responses you get.  When deciding who to contact have a look at their online presence to find out who might be interested in your work.

Social media engagement:

Following or messaging your local politicians on social is a relatively simple way of engaging with them in a more informal way and making them aware of your work. A simple google search of their name will usually point your to their twitter and Facebook pages.

You can find MSP Twitter accounts by visiting the biography pages on the Scottish Parliament’s website  or from their Twitter list. Culture Counts also has an MSP Twitter list.

Twitter accounts for MPs are available from the biography pages on the UK Parliament website or from the Culture Counts MP Twitter list.

Write to them or attend a surgery:

Contact details and surgery times are all available online. For Councillors, a google search of their name should take you to the relevant page. For MSPs you can find contact details and links to individual websites through the biography pages on the Scottish Parliament’s website  and for MPs use from the biography pages on the UK Parliament website.

When writing to or meeting politicians, the first step is to focus on the reason why you are approaching them: it can be to inform them about your organisation, to highlight the way the organisation works with the local community / artists / youth etc. It could also be to focus on a particular cause or issue.  Prioritise what you would like them to know and think of including the following information:

  • Describe in two-three sentences what the organisation does and what its mission and aims are,
  • How many people the organisation employs,
  • How many people it supports through its activities. Who are those stakeholders?
  • How many people engage with the organisation through its activities / projects?
  • Where does the financial support for the organisation come from? What percentage comes from each source? You should also be able to provide the percentage that comes from funding and commercial activities.
  • Perhaps you have some success stories, examples of your activities you could share with them – for this section, it is worth researching what your MSP’s or Councillor’s particular interests are to try to give them examples that would strongly resonate with them.
  • Explain the impact your work has and how culture as whole has an impact in Scotland – use the Key Facts About Culture to make your case
  • Ask them their views on the value of culture and how they can help support culture in Scotland

Invite MSPs / MPs / Councillors to an event you organise:

A forthcoming event is a good opportunity to engage with your national and local government representatives. Research what their interests are to see how well your event and your organisation’s activities fit with what they support – make sure that you try to tie into those interests as that will make your event essential for them to attend. Let them know if there are likely to be media and photo call opportunities at the event which will raise both your and their profile.

Even if they aren’t able to attend the first time you invite them, making them aware of what is happening in their area is an important part of highlighting the impact that culture has.

Don’t underestimate the importance of planning ahead – even if your event is extremely relevant, your MSP, MP, Councillor will need to fit it into their diaries. Try to give them as much notice as possible, a guideline notice is that of a minimum of one month, and keep in touch as the event approaches in case they have last minute schedule changes.

And don’t forget to write to them afterwards to thank them for their attendance and support.

When inviting UK Parliament MPs, it is better to contact them  via their constituency office rather than Westminster. By doing so you are more likely to speak to an assistant who will be able to help straight away. For more detailed guidance on inviting UK MPs to your event, please click here.

Once you’ve made contact with politicians, you can share your experiences with Culture Counts and your networks and see what others are doing.

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