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Why engage with politicians and local communities?

Local politicians and residents are making decisions about your business every day and you may not be part of the conversation. An increasingly localised agenda has led to a wider range of services being shaped and delivered at a local level. This is set against huge budget constraints as local government funding is cut. Local Councillors are accountable to voters on a scale unheard of since the war, and communities want a greater say. In this new localist environment Residents shape, Council officers respond, but Councillors decide. To ensure success business needs to make sure it has a strategy for dealing with all these players. Tightening local government budgets also increases the appeal of outsourcing services, which can often represent a massive cost-saving to local authorities whilst also enabling them to improve service levels focused on local people. A key part of the process is building a picture of what makes communities and politicians tick. Understanding what motivates individual Councillors is key and this is why at Cratus we carry out detailed research on the local area and decision-makers; in some cases this involves attending public Council meetings where it can often become apparent who is really in charge within a political group.

“I welcome the platform provided by Cratus Communications not only to share my vision for Birmingham with leading developers, house builders, planners and major manufacturers, but also to engage fully with that audience.� Cllr Sir Albert Bore Leader of Birmingham City Council

How can we help you engage? Cratus employs politicians and we understand how and why decisions are made. We can ensure you are talking to the right people giving your proposals the best chance at success. Cratus will help shape your offer so that it can be communicated to Councillors, Residents and Council officers in a clear and concise way. Cratus will make sure your marketing materials and presentations are appropriate to the audience and assist in getting the message across to Councillors and the wider community. Cratus will provide support throughout any contract bidding process. This includes providing insight into what motivates the local community and their politicians, and how you should work with the politicians. All this work will strengthen your proposals to them. Cratus will support your proposals with ‘campaigns’ appropriate to the project and sensitive to the needs of the local community.

About Cratus Cratus is a specialised communications and public affairs company. It works for a range of clients from: renewable energy companies, education providers, service providers through to charities. It helps support them in their communications with both local and national government as well as their connectivity to the local communities in which they operate. Cratus creates good relationships with politicians from all parties and all levels - from the Cabinet to the District Council. We are a team of keen campaigners, active in our communities politically and working as community leaders. We understand how local politics works because we are involved so closely ourselves. There is a strong community ethos in the team, and a strong desire to give something back. This comes out in our commitment to supporting local charities - often with some pro-bono work.

Sharing services Could your business help Councils deliver services? Cratus supports John Laing Integrated Services (JLIS) in a number of ways. This has included providing support and advice throughout the bidding process for the running of Council-owned libraries in Croydon and Wandsworth; helping them to turn ‘corporate speak’ into the language of Councillors; breaking down barriers with Council officers and stimulating the market for their services; advice and support for local government events such as the Local Government Association Annual Conference. The key to helping JLIS was helping them understand the marketplace they were entering, building the necessary relationships with the decisionmakers and getting past the officers to build a bigger marketplace.

Education Thinking of setting up a Free School or sponsoring an Academy? Or could you help run these schools? The government has made it an education priority to grow the number of Academies and to introduce new Academies that are designated ‘Free Schools’. These schools will be set up where a community can show there is demand and desire. To create ‘demand and desire’ Cratus has developed a programme of community engagement that encompasses working with local politicians and communities to stimulate interest in proposals from good education providers. Parent passion is not enough, in many cases, to make this happen. Cratus has very wide experience in the education field supporting converting Academy proposals and free school bids. Our team members have worked on successful bid teams in PFI and ensured that communities living near schools were engaged with the process of design and pedagogy, even before architects and educationalists had started to formulate their plans. This bottom up process is ideally suited to the work anticipated in this document. Community engagement also has a role to play in tailoring a school’s priorities to fit the needs of the community instead of vice versa, which has often happened in the past.

Health Will the new health reforms impact your business or charity? How will you reach out to engage with local politicians shaping local health services? Under the health service reforms local government will become much more engaged in commissioning decisions and the strategic direction of local health services. This is particularly acute in public health, the main budget for which now sits with local authorities. Local Councillors will become more aware and have a greater understanding of: services, pharmaceutical and treatment options available. Alongside a much more clinical approach to the commissioning of local services this widens the audience to which service providers and pharmaceuticals are selling. Service providers and suppliers will be able to take a more tailored and targeted approach to raising awareness of their products. An understanding of the motivations and interests of local Councillors will be ever more important, along with greater knowledge of how the levers of power are being exercised at a local level.

“We work in teenage pregnancy, we’re a medium-sized charity. Did we ever think of using Cratus? Absolutely not. It never occurred to us that we would need help to raise our profile with Ministers and MPs, and its worked. They’ve done fantastic things for us. We’ve learnt so much about how we need to get to the right people, make ourselves known. We understand more about the political language which we didn’t have a clue about before. And I would recommend them. Highly.” Hilary Pannack Chief Executive, Straight Talking

Charities Should you raise your profile and engage with a wider political audience? Cratus supports a number of charities on a varied range of projects. We are able to tailor our approach and menu of services to complement smaller organisations and help them build their profile and achieve their campaign aims. We are currently working with the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association (BNTVA), an organisation that represents veterans of the British nuclear tests that took place during the 1950s and 60s. We are working with them to build a programme of engagement which gives them connections not only with politicians, but also members of the public and other stakeholders involved in nuclear and veterans’ affairs.

“Cratus is a key member of our campaign team, supporting us in achieving our goal of receiving recognition from the country of our contribution to the development of the nuclear deterrent in the 1950s and 1960s. Their expertise and experience has opened up avenues that we would never have considered before and helped us engage with the public as well as key decisionmakers.� Nigel Heaps Chairman, BNTVA (British Nuclear Test Veterans Association)

020 8546 9374

Cratus Communications Unit 5, 16-18 Park Road Kingston-upon-Thames Surrey, KT2 6BG

Cratus and Business  

Why engage with politicians and local communities

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