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Election Preparedness Playbook

June 17th 2024

Lodestone Election Preparedness Playbook:

A recap of best practice actions for comms and public affairs teams in the run up to the General Election


“As the country prepares to go to the polls, those of us in comms and public affairs roles are preparing our organisations to communicate with purpose through this time. Given that General Elections usually take place several years apart, it can be easy to forget some of the ground rules. And with 45% of PR professionals aged between 16-and 34-years old (according to the CIPR PR Population Report released in 2024) many in our industry will only have experienced working through four or fewer elections of this kind. Now with a saturated news agenda, rapid developments in technology, higher risks of political misinformation campaigns, cyber-attacks and deep fakes it is more important than ever to be prepared for the challenges and the opportunities. This Election Preparedness Playbook recaps best practice techniques to put in place in the run up to the 4th of July 2024. Communicating with purpose, internal cross-function coordination, managing stakeholder relationships, sourcing the latest insights and never forgetting your purpose will help your organisation stay on track through this dynamic time.”

Fran O’Leary, Co-Founder and Director, Client Services - Lodestone


  • Navigating Election Preparedness – Key Actions to Take
  • Part One: Strategic Context
  • Part Two: Preparing for Possible Scenarios
  • Part Three: Communicating with One Voice
  • Part Four: Stakeholder Relations
  • Party Five: Conclusion



2024 is a major year for global democracy with many strategically important elections set to take place including those in South Africa, the US Presidential Election and, of course, the UK General Election.

In the UK a change in Government continues to look likely with many polls predicting a win for the Labour Party. Lodestone’s polling among business leaders found 71% think a Labour victory is likely or very likely, with 64% feeling optimistic or very optimistic about a Labour government. However, much could change, and it is important to consider all possible scenarios and outcomes.

Even if a brand, business or organisation’s communications strategy is not overtly political, elections still present challenges and uncertainty. As communications professionals we must work harder and smarter to ensure announcement don’t get lost in the noise about the election.

Elections present challenges for communicating with different audiences. In an increasingly polarised world, a company’s staff, customers, investors and wider stakeholders are likely to hold very different political views and very different expectations of on which issues the firm should take a stand.

So how do you navigate the complex political environment of a pre-election period and communicate with purpose? Should a business just go quiet? For many organisations silence is not an option.

Corporate communications teams play a crucial role during elections. By working closely together with other internal functions, corporate communications teams can help mitigate the risk that your organisation gets associated with a divisive candidate or issue, is attacked by a political stakeholder, or is the victim of a misinformation campaign. We recommend convening an Election Preparedness Working Group on comms risks, taking senior counsel, horizon scanning and scenario planning risks and opportunities. This working group can help prepare for issues that may come up during the days running up to the election and share intelligence from within the organisation on any emerging risks.

By communicating with purpose, and taking internal and external stakeholder’s views on board, corporate communications has the opportunity to ensure an organisation is understood, retains an inclusive culture and brand definition in the marketplace.


In the run up to a general election many corporate communications and public affairs teams put their time and energy into preparing reach out emails and briefing notes for the incoming cohort of relevant Ministers. This way they can be quick off the draw to issue meeting requests to Ministers and maximise their ability to influence policy formation during the Government’s first 100 days. Alongside this, many teams dedicate time to a deep dive of Prospective Parliamentary Candidate research, so they have clear line of sight on who might be elected in the constituencies in which their organisation is based.

In addition to these best practice actions, we also recommend preparing for some of the more challenging scenarios that could emerge.

Being prepared for the following five key scenarios can help ensure your organisation achieves its comms objectives, reaches the right audiences, and carefully navigates political complexities.

  1. Major political announcements. Being aware of when major political announcements are likely to take place can help you plan your communications programmes so they don’t clash and don’t get lost in the noise of intense political news days. In the worst case scenario, a business announces an initiative on a strategic issue such as sustainability, with positive intentions, on the same day that a political party announces their policy that would require business to go further, resulting in the business being included in media coverage as an example of a brand not doing enough to achieve net zero. Political monitoring and intelligence can provide insights into when these big announcements are likely to be scheduled and can be crucial in protecting reputations. As it isn’t always possible to predict major announcements, and the timing can change at the last minute, we recommend taking an agile approach to communications planning. Make it possible to change the date of your announcements, should there be a clash with a major speech that could raise the kinds of risks covered here, with minimal impact on resources and operations. In practice this could mean investing more in digital communications around an announcement rather than in-person events, so that the date can more easily be changed with less budget/resources lost.
  2. When your organisation comes under pressure from politicians to back them or host them giving a photo opportunity or speech. Each situation is different. Taking senior counsel is vital for thinking through how allowing a politician to speak at your business would be perceived by staff, investors, customers and other stakeholders, and whether the risks of alienating an audience would outweigh the opportunities. Most businesses choose to avoid being viewed as being politically aligned with any particular party, as they don’t want to alienate any of their internal or external stakeholders. However, at Lodestone we have supported some businesses who were very clear that they wanted to host a major political speech, from a particular stakeholder, as the announcement would support a policy intervention that the business had been calling for and as their values aligned. The stars don’t always align in this way. We have also supported corporate communications functions who needed to roll back plans to host a major political speech, which could have risked alienating other stakeholders, after it had been agreed by one site/business unit without corporate level oversight and sign off. Ensuring all internal functions work closely together and share information on plans, with corporate communications playing a central coordinating role, is crucial to ensure opportunities are maximised and situations like the latter are avoided. Issuing guidance internally on the structure, processes and behaviours expected in the run up to an election, including where central corporate sign off is required is advisable.
  3. When your organisation comes under pressure from employees to take a particular stance on an issue that has come up during a political campaign. Taking senior counsel is vital for thinking through how taking a stance on a politically sensitive issue would be perceived by staff, investors, customers, and other stakeholders, and whether the risks outweigh the opportunities. At Lodestone we have a tried and tested model that assists decision making on the issues on which to take a stance, how this would be perceived and reputational risk, which is applied and reviewed through senior counsel to Election Preparedness Working Groups.
  4. When your organisation gets attacked by a politician during a speech or media opportunity. Enhanced media monitoring and being able to draw on political intelligence can help organisations be prepared. Refreshed crisis comms packs and having reactive statements ready, for any high alert risks can help aid rapid response and rebuttal.
  5. When your organisation is associated with external political interference and misinformation campaigns – from deep fakes to fake news. While the risk of your brand getting tied up in misinformation campaigns may be low, it is best to be prepared. With the rapid development of AI and cyber threats, especially in the context of international conflicts, none of us can be certain exactly how political interference and misinformation campaigns could play out. Enhanced media monitoring and being able to draw on political intelligence can help organisations be prepared. Refreshed crisis comms processes and protocols and having reactive statements ready, for any high alert risks can help aid rapid response and rebuttal.

→ The Lodestone Election Hub provides comprehensive information on the General Election including prospective parliamentary candidates, polling and analysis, and current and new electoral boundaries mapping.

Partnering with Survation, we conducted a poll of 8,205 adults on their voting intentions and 6,170 on topical issues, carrying out MRP modelling to analyse the results of the poll for each of the 632 parliamentary constituencies in Great Britain, based on boundaries for the 2024 General Election.

Viewers can explore prospective parliamentary candidate information, constituency voting intention, seat prediction, tactical voting insights, policy prioritisation, trust on policies, engagement with Labour’s Five Missions, and more.

For a detailed insight into this and other results, visit Lodestone’s Election Hub here.


Ensuring your organisation’s messaging is aligned with core values and brand positioning is more important than ever during an election.

Consistency of message, ensuring your organisation communicates with one voice, with strong levels of oversight from corporate communications is key.

As noted, most businesses choose to avoid being viewed as being politically aligned with any particular party, as they don’t want to alienate any of their internal or external stakeholders. However, during elections occasionally people at different levels within an organisation may feel compelled to share their views, as if they are representing the business, without prior sign off at a corporate level. Giving managers clear lines to take on what they can and can’t say, should they be asked about the election, while engaging with stakeholders or while attending events such as media dinners, or conferences where journalists are present, can be very useful. Corporate communications functions play a crucial role in ensuring these lines to take reflect the core values and brand positioning, are clear, consistent and easy to use.

In the run up to the election, it is likely that some high-profile individuals, celebrities and influencers will come out in support of one political party or another. Should they be a brand ambassador for your business, it is useful to be prepared to handle any incoming media enquiries about the issue, being clear that the individual’s personal political views do not necessarily reflect the organisation as a whole. Corporate communications functions play a key role in making sure template reactive statements of this kind are prepared in advance and are ready to use if needed.

Working closely with internal public affairs teams, key managers and agency support, corporate communications functions can play a key role in convening working groups to review and check in on communications risks in relation to the election. Horizon scanning possible risks, and then using the check ins to surface any emerging issues, can help teams be prepared.


Maintaining stakeholder engagement is important to both build trust and manage reputational risks. Through the sensitive election period it is vital to continue to effectively communicate with all stakeholders including employees, customers, political stakeholders, officials, regulators, the media and beyond.

Many organisations operate on the basis that if they seek to brief one political party on an issue, they should seek to brief all parties with the same information, so as not to be perceived as being aligned with any one political party.

Research by the American Psychological Association has found that anxiety and stress levels can increase around the time of an election. During a time of change, ensuring your organisation retains consistent messaging in line with your brand’s values, can help internal stakeholders feel calm and reassured. Investing more time into internal communications, with more town hall style meetings and opportunities to ask the leadership questions, can help in terms of fostering open dialogue and transparency during sensitive times.

The ‘pre-election period of sensitivity’ occurs in the weeks leading up to an election, can also be referred to as the period of ‘heightened sensitivity’, and in the past was often known by the term ‘purdah’. During this time, governments, ministers, and civil servants will exercise caution in making announcements or decisions that might influence the election campaign. Given this, organisations that work with the public sector or Government directly may find that some decisions are put on hold or that meetings are re-scheduled. If this happens it is worth communicating with understanding, as these stakeholders will be operating in line with convention.


As we face into the General Election, being prepared is crucial. Taking the best practice actions covered in this Playbook, and recapped in the below checklist, can help your organisation make the most of the opportunities and mitigate the risks.


  • Convene an Election Preparedness Working Group on comms risks
  • Take regular advise from Senior Counsel
  • Horizon scanning and scenario planning on risks and opportunities


  • Deep dive research and intelligence on Prospective Parliamentary Candidates
  • Prepare comms for quick outreach to relevant Ministers after the election, for maximum impact during the first 100 days

Internal Comms

  • Communicate with clarity about structure, process and behaviour for the pre-election and election period – with central corporate sign off on key decisions
  • Develop lines to take for managers so they are clear what they can and can’t say on the election when they receive questions from staff or stakeholders

Reputation Management

  • Refresh crisis comms processes and protocols
  • Prepare template reactive statements for quick turnaround response and rebuttal
  • Ensure reputation management processes consider different scenarios


  • Upgrade political, media and social media monitoring and intelligence
  • Ensure key decision makers within your organization and members of the working group are receiving the intelligence they need

Agile Approach to Comms

  • Apply an agile approach to comms planning – be ready and able to quickly change the date or content of announcements should this be required.