Knowing how to ‘woo Wellington’ will help region
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.”