For advocates, the most important stakeholder at any level of government is the one you need to bring on side for your advocacy campaign to work.

They may not be a Minister, but they’re dedicated to the government and to their local electorate. Underestimate their zeal and you may find your entire campaign skidding off track.

Likewise, every local Member’s office has a team of staffers often equally as committed to their community and to helping their boss be the best local representative possible. More often than not, these electorate staffers are also very well networked and heavily involved with their local party branches.

This week, we sit down with Mitchell Price, Director of Government Relations at LIME. Mitchell previously worked as the Chief of Staff to Bruce Notley-Smith, NSW Member for Coogee and was President of the Maitland Branch of the Liberal Party.

Mitchell thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. Can we start with how and why you became a political staffer?

From my involvement in Lions, the local chamber of commerce, or the local Liberal Party branch, I have a passion for making change happen. Bruce is one of those local pollies who wants to make his community and State better — I wanted to help him achieve that.

While working as Chief of Staff you basically ran the electorate office. What did a day in your shoes look like?

The one certainty working in politics is that there is no certainty! From working to help local community groups grow, to helping constituents with their concerns or developing a local advocacy plan with Bruce, a day in an MP’s office is never dull.

In your experience as an electorate staffer responsible for meeting with various groups and organisations, what are the most effective things advocates can do to deliver their key message to a political office?

It’s important for people to be prepared when briefing a politician or their office. Being prepared means understanding the politician and their role, tailoring your message instead of giving a generic spiel and reflecting on how your message may affect their local area and whether or not it fits in with their values.

What were some of your biggest challenges when formulating policies and incorporating various groups’ feedback? What can advocates do to assist this process?

Be willing to pitch an idea to help solve the issue. Often — and we can all be guilty of this — people are willing to present problems but no solutions. Even if the first positive or proactive idea isn’t the whole answer, it can be the seed to grow the end solution.

What were some of the more common pitfalls for advocates when meeting with MPs and staffers?

Be mindful of time. We all lead busy lives so if there’s briefing information for the Member that you can provide ahead of time, that helps. It means you’ll have more time in your meeting to talk about solutions, ideas and the next steps.

Of the organisations and stakeholders that you found helpful or effective, what made them so great to work with?

From business, to politics, to our social lives, we all appreciate genuine people. Building a good relationship between the community and the local politician starts with respect, being up front and genuine about finding an outcome.