Amy Wilson says companies can for the first time really reach out and control the debate on the issues that matter to them in the run up to May 7.
It is less than a hundred days until the general election – it may feel a lot longer by the time May 7 comes around – and with consumer and business-led issues accounting for some of the most controversial manifesto pledges, companies have a great opportunity to debate the big issues with customers.
There are companies and organisations who wish to contribute to the argument over how the country should be run – and there are those who previously had no desire to do so, but have found their industries brought into the spotlight by a renewed political focus on business and consumer issues such as energy prices, property values and the competitiveness of high street banks.
Both groups are fortunate to be in business at a time when they can for the first time really put their own websites and other channels to work. They can create content that puts their point of view across, and use their own social media channels to share and debate it with customers and opinion formers – even politicians.
With social media, there is no need to get a quote in a national newspaper or a slot with a broadcaster to get your message out to the general public. Nor will your particular area of interest be lost amid the broader subjects of the economy, the NHS and immigration. Online, you can find the groups and communities interested in the issues affecting your industry and talk directly with them.
Examples of companies who have already joined the public debate surrounding their industry include:
Manchester-based financial advisory firm Pareto on the subject of the mansion tax and what it means for customers’ property investment plans, which ranks fourth on Google search for ‘how will a mansion tax affect me’ below only three national news organisations.
National Grid sets out its view of how policy decisions on energy pricing and renewables, as well as the impact of economic growth on demand, will affect its customers, ie. the energy companies, in the Future Energy Scenarios section of its website. This is the second-highest ranking content on a Google search for “energy prices, UK general election”.
On the subject of making the UK’s high street banks more competitive and helpful to business (one of the 2015 election pledges called for by the Federation of Small Businesses), Barclays has a dedicated section of its website for small business support, with content on the legal requirements of running a business and finding new customers, as well as on funding as you would expect. It is the top Google search result returned for “bank help for small businesses”.
In one important way, 2015 is the most predictable general election the country has ever seen – we have known it will take place on Thursday May 7 since it was decreed by an act of Parliament back in 2011.
Knowing the date of the election means your business can create a schedule of content for the next three months, such as articles, executive interviews, videos and questionnaires to publish on your website and promote via social media. You don’t need to wait to respond to the news, although you can do that too; you can put across your point of view independently.
The election result is far from a foregone conclusion, meaning this is a debate worth entering if one or more parties have a policy which you believe will harm or help your company. If politics has taken an interest in your industry, you can use your own website and social media channels to display content which makes your case in your own way. Go to it.