CBAA Political Engagement Toolkit






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Planning & Strategy


Partisan politics can be a vicious business and stations are right to tread carefully. The best way to keep the politics out of it and create meaningful relationships with people of all political stripes is to create a political engagement plan and stick to it.

PDF icon Download the full CBAA Political Engagement Toolkit | PDF icon Factsheet: Meeting with Pollies Checklist | 


Keeping the politics out of it

StrategySome stations may be reticent to get involved with politicians because of, well, the politics. Politicians may feel the same way, if they feel that station managers, board members or presenters have certain voting tendencies.

The key really is in how you talk about your station and the way you approach political engagement.

If the politician sees you as combative, and wanting to debate issues all the time, they are less likely to engage.

But if they see you as generally interested in their point of view, and wanting to help get that point of view to the community, that’s a different story entirely.

Key Tips
  • Let MPs speak openly to their constituents rather than try to pressure them into giving answers.

  • Engage in friendly discussions of issues and policies rather than the ‘politics’. Engage heavily with local issues.

  • Be sensitive to the needs of politicians and also different political allegiances. Politicians from different political parties may not enjoy sitting next to each other at a fundraising dinner, for example.

  • When tackling issues, present it to politicians as ‘an opportunity to share their point of view’.

  • Broadcast disclaimers before politicians appear on air, making it clear that their views might not necessarily be the views of the station.


Making a political engagement plan


These will be determined by your current relationship with your targeted representatives. In the short-term, try and be realistic – don’t expect too much from yourself or them. In the long-term, shoot for the stars!


Every idea you have, whether a three-day music festival or writing a letter asking for funding, will need a series of steps to get them completed. 

The first time you do something, write down the stages involved, so you can delegate it to someone else next time.


The factsheets in this toolkit are just a starting point. You’ll definitely also need a leaflet or similar which overviews your station in a way a politician will understand.

Other useful assets include social media branding and shareable graphics, t-shirts and pull-up banners.


This will work alongside your goals and task-lists. The biggest mistake anyone ever makes is assuming that everyone is listening to them.

Chart your available communications channels (social media, traditional media, email, snail mail, etc.) and make sure you have actions assigned along the way to make the most of all of them.


Including your board of directors, staff and volunteers in any planning process can generate new ideas, foster a sense of teamwork and create a sense of ownership over a campaign. 

Advocacy is a role that board members can excel at. Staff and volunteers involved in planning a strategy will be enthusiastic about implementing it.


How to approach political engagement

  • Revenge is not the only dish best served cold. Political change happens slowly, so too political engagement. 

  • Building a relationship with politicians takes time. Don’t overwhelm the MP with information or requests. 

  • Focus on the key pieces information that will communicate exactly what you want to say at a particular point in time. 

  • Be conscious of when your local council meets, and when state and federal parliaments sit.

  • This may sound obvious, but having a plan is useful. 

  • Include political engagement in your regular planning sessions and develop a political engagement strategy. 

  • Start with long-term goals, then map out the steps that can be taken to get there. 

  • Return to the strategy each year and review how it went. Revise as necessary. 

  • This also applies to individual events.

  •  It’s really easy to engage with a politician and think that the engagement itself was a positive outcome. 

  • This may be true in initial stages, where you might not ever have met the politician before or engaged with them, but interaction swiftly becomes pointless if it is not purposeful.

  • Have a clear idea about what you want, and make sure the politician knows it too right up front.

  • This is possibly the most important point.

  • Regular meaningful contact is vital to maintaining strong relationships. 

  • When you build your political engagement strategy, make sure it includes a communications schedule, which diarises regular contact points between you and local representatives.

  • Political engagement, like pretty much everything else, is all about personal relationships.
  • Focus on areas of common interest between you, the politician and the station. 

  • Try and get representatives personally involved with the station. 

  • Successful stations engage MPs to become

  • ambassadors, partners, friends of the station, sponsors, supporters, etc.




Tales, tips and ideas from the world of political engagement.

Benefits of Political Engagement

Done successfully, political engagement will strengthen the connection of your station to the communities you broadcast to.

Political Engagement Toolkit

Designed for staff, volunteers and committee members at Australian community radio stations, this toolkit highlights the need for and benefits of political engagement as well as providing easy to follow insights into how to do it successfully.