Know­ing how to ‘woo Welling­ton’ will help re­gion

Waikato News - - NEWS -

Waikato busi­ness lead­ers are keen to know on how to bet­ter en­gage with min­is­ters and of­fi­cials in Welling­ton.

They re­cently gath­ered at a lunchtime panel dis­cus­sion in Hamil­ton on “woo­ing Welling­ton” which fea­tured three govern­ment re­la­tions ex­perts: Holly Ben­nett, di­rec­tor of HSB Govern­ment Re­la­tions; Sarah-Lee Crellin, for­mer se­nior com­mu­ni­ca­tions ad­vi­sor for the De­part­ment of In­ter­nal Af­fairs; and HMC Com­mu­ni­ca­tions se­nior strate­gic ad­vi­sor Peta Goldswor­thy.

“From a re­gional per­spec­tive, cen­tral govern­ment in Welling­ton can seem like a world away,” said Ms Goldswor­thy.

“Many com­pa­nies and not-for­profit or­gan­i­sa­tions know they should en­gage with elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives, but they don’t know how to get their foot in the door.”

“The need to build re­la­tion­ships with politi­cians is im­per­a­tive,” Holly Ben­nett, di­rec­tor of HSB Govern­ment Re­la­tions, said. But busi­ness own­ers of­ten don’t know where to start. She saw lots of po­ten­tial for Waikato busi­nesses, es­pe­cially those in the small-to-medium and start-up area, to bet­ter en­gage with cen­tral govern­ment.

Sarah-Lee Crellin, who spent seven years in var­i­ous govern­ment de­part­ments along­side prime min­is­ters and govern­ment min­is­ters, said Welling­ton and Waikato had dif­fer­ent ways of do­ing things.

“There is some­thing I call the ‘Waikato’ way and the ‘Welly’ way, and un­der­stand­ing the dif­fer­ence can help,” says Mrs Crellin. “Waikato has grown up and is full of pas­sion­ate and ex­cit­ing peo­ple, but some­times there is a ‘she’ll be right’ at­ti­tude and busi­nesses are hum­ble. In Welling­ton we want a lot of qual­ity de­tail to make de­ci­sions, plus if some­thing is great we shout about it from the roof tops.”

The panel dis­cus­sion was part of the CRUNCH (cru­cial con­ver­sa­tions over lunch) se­ries put on by Hamil­ton pub­lic re­la­tions agency HMC Com­mu­ni­ca­tions for se­nior lead­ers, tack­ling top­ics that af­fect them, no mat­ter their in­dus­try.

Ms Goldswor­thy stressed that govern­ment re­la­tions ef­forts need to align with the com­pany’s wider com­mu­ni­ca­tions and en­gage­ment plan­ning, and that it’s a “long-term game”.

With the re­cent launch of the Waikato Re­gional Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Agency, Te Waka, it was an op­por­tune time for the re­gion’s busi­nesses to en­gage with govern­ment.

“We are well re­garded in Welling­ton, and there are lots of ex­cit­ing things hap­pen­ing in the Waikato re­gion at the mo­ment, so it’s a great time to think about en­gag­ing with cen­tral govern­ment.”

Photo / Sup­plied

From left: Peta Goldswor­thy, se­nior strate­gic ad­vi­sor at HMC Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Sarah-Lee Crellin, for­mer se­nior com­mu­ni­ca­tions ad­vi­sor for the De­part­ment of In­ter­nal Af­fairs, and Holly Ben­net, di­rec­tor of HSB Govern­ment Re­la­tions.

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