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HOW TO BE A POLITICAL STAFF: Part 2. Attending events with the principal. Events preparation.

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When a politician or your principal decides to attend an event, the staff should gently remind the principal of the event at least one (1) day before and first thing in the morning. The principal often has a lot on his/her mind and deals with multiple things at the same time. The job of the staff is to help him/her focus on the event ahead. The staff should (1) prepare a briefer, (2) a schedule for the day, and (3) provide and anticipate logistical and material needs of the principal.

The briefer should be designed for the principal to have conversational knowledge on topics and news that may be interesting or relevant to the event or the people attending the same event, with whom the principal may be reasonably expected to have an interaction or conversation. After having read or having been given a briefing, the principal should be able to carry a conversation with anybody in attendance on a particular topic relevant to the event or the people in attendance. What will be included in the briefer is highly editorialized, selected for relevance, timeliness, and with the goal of making the principal appear genuinely interested in the event, the crowd, or the place. For example, when visiting Occidental Mindoro, particularly during the 2022 Election period, it may be helpful for politicians to be kept abreast on the issue of power shortages in the province or the oversupply of onions, topics about which the principal is even reasonably expected to be knowledgeable about and which will endear the principal to the people whom they will engage.

The briefer may contain a background on the organization that will be hosting the event and also a short profile of the important people in attendance and particular topics that may interest them. If it is a religious organization, it may be helpful for the principal to be informed on topics or personalities that should be avoided or not mentioned. For example, if person to be seated with the principal recently went abroad, perhaps the principal may casually ask about their trip and turn the conversation towards that trip.

The schedule for the day ahead should be mapped out or laid out. Travel time, estimated time of arrival (ETA) and estimated time of departure should be clearly stated, to give an idea how much time the principal have to spend on the event. Meals and rest time should also be accounted and blocked. This is particularly helpful when the principal must attend successive events or meetings. It is straightforward and allows for coordination between the team especially if the office uses advance parties to be present ahead of the arrival of the principal.

A political staff is a support staff. It may be characterized as a “glorified personal assistant” especially if the political office has no designated “close in” or that one confidential person that attends to intimate or very personal needs of the principal. But mostly, providing logistic and material needs of the principal on the day of the event is also within the scope of your function as a political staff. It could mean preparing your principal’s attire for the event and making sure it is presentable. It could also include having miscellaneous things on your body and on hand: a lighter, candy, your principal’s favorite perfume, ballpen, scissors, load, distilled water, and many other things, designed to make attendance on the event as convenient for the principal as possible.

A political staff must reasonably anticipate the needs of the principal. The principal may ask for any article that mentioned him which appeared on the media that day. On site of the event, the staff should know the entrance and the exit in case of emergency. On that note, the staff should have a good working relationship with the drivers as they are essential for transporting the principal to the event. You should also know the comfort rooms available for use by the principal, and the restaurants where he may eat. If the principal will be hosted for a meal by the event organizer, the staff must make sure that the principal’s preference is politely coordinated to avoid allergy or embarrassment. Further, the staff should be knowledgeable about the nature of the event and is reasonably expected to provide any material necessary for the event. For example, if the principal is to attend a store opening and asked to cut the ribbon, the staff should have on his person a presentable scissor just in case and make sure that a congratulatory stand of flowers from the principal are on display.

Considering that attendance to an event may be viewed as a public relations effort, the staff should have a ready camera and recorder for documentation purposes, as well as, for public release to the media or social media channels of the principal.

On the day of the event itself, the political staff should ensure that the principal gets on the place of the event on time, with sufficient knowledge about the event, with the materials he needs and ensure commensurate publicity that puts the principal in good light.

Read more:

HOW TO BE A POLITICAL STAFF? Part 1: Who is a political staff and what are their desirable qualities?

HOW TO BE A POLITICAL STAFF: Part 3. Declining or Accepting an Invitation

Atty. Lawrence Villamar worked for a Senator and a Congressman. Presently, he is a consultant to a Board Member and Vice-Governor.

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