Political marketing in practice

Crawford School of Public Policy | Executive course
Policy Essentials


Political marketing in practice: understanding the public, strategising, communicating and delivering in government and politics

Delivered by internationally renowned researcher in the field, this one-day course will help staff working for and advising ministers, in political parties, and current or aspiring politicians to develop skills essential to government and politics in the 21st century.

During the course, participants will learn about the marketing strategies which can help them understand, respond to and communicate with the public and how to manage public perception of delivery in government. They will also learn about the pitfalls of some marketing tools and the importance of using them appropriately to achieve ministers’ and politicians’ goals.

Develop an understanding of the public and political environment you work in. Improve your ability to understand the perspective and position of the ministers and politicians you serve. Drawing on international research including interviews with high level political practitioners working in government, the course will outline best practice principles which can be applied to current cases and the participant’s own situation.

Course overview

The course will introduce best practice principles in political marketing in government and politics, covering how to understand, respond to, communicate with, and deliver for the public. Drawing on international research including interviews with high level political practitioners working in government, it will cover:

  • Understanding your public: Accessing and capturing the views of your public, using market research, segmentation, data and targeting.

  • Responding to the public: Being responsive to the right people, building your strategy, building a brand that works for you and for the public and managing volunteers.

  • Communicating with the public: How to make communication suited to the public using market research and principles, including communicating candidates and policies.

  • Delivering for the public: The importance of pre-election delivery, creating will for successful delivery, conveying progress, handling problems and keeping marketing going in power.

Whilst the material draws on academic research, the teaching is applied, designed to stimulate thinking about how to use the concepts and ideas in practice. The teaching has three main components:

  • Guidelines: the convenor will present best practice guidelines.
  • Examples: examples from international cases will be shown to illustrate these -guidelines.
  • Exercises: participants will discuss these guidelines and think about how it might be applied to their work/research.

Participants will leave the course with an understanding of the current approaches to public, government and political marketing and how best to use them to achieve a range of political goals.

Learning outcomes:

  • Acquisition of a wide range of knowledge about political marketing tools that they can adapt and utilise within their own workplace and situation
  • Specific understanding and appreciation that:
    • Political marketing is not just about campaigns but includes marketing in government.
    • Voters act like consumers and thus practitioners need to use a range of market research tools and listening to understand and respond to them.
    • Strategic thinking and use of concepts in political marketing strategy and branding is as valuable as more tangible and visible communication.
    • Effective communication will be responsive and relate to the public, not just sell an argument or policy or seek to persuade.
    • Delivery is crucial to success in government and politics, and political practitioners need to think about delivery before being elected, and in government communicate quick wins, manage failures and personalise delivery success.
    • It is important to be responsive to voters in government, not just when trying to win an elections.
    • Appreciate the potential and drawbacks of different marketing tools and adapt them to suit your situation and goals

Who should attend?

  • APS staff who are looking to develop and an understanding of the public and political environment, improving their ability to understand the perspective and position of the ministers and politicians they serve.
  • Parliamentary staff
  • Media, academics and students in politics, policy, communications, marketing and journalism who are seeking to become informed about the reality of modern government and politics.
  • Political party staff and volunteers involved in campaigning
  • Think tanks who want to understand the ‘other side’ e.g. the perspective of politicians they are trying to influence


“The two days training on Political Marketing delivered by Professor Jennifer Lees-Marshment for practitioners and research students in Ghana was overwhelmingly insightful, to say the least. The theoretical depth and the practical global perspectives contained in the hands-on course workbook that allowed for practice sessions during the training were well acclaimed by the participants. It was a complete capacity building within just a short period of time.” - Dr Kobby Mensah, Senior Lecturer in Political Marketing, University of Ghana Business School

“Graduates from the Riddell MA Program in Political Management at Carleton University (Canada) continue to comment about Jennifer Lees-Marshment’s visit to our program and her lectures in Political Marketing. It was a unique experience where theory and practice met seamlessly and with practical outcomes. I took over teaching the course since her visit and I have used her approach and her textbook as the framework for my lectures.” - Prof. Andre Turcotte, Carleton University, Canada

“Jennifer Lees-Marshment presented relevant, timely information that was useful to all of the constituencies on our campus and community. She presented the latest knowledge about political marketing in ways that appealed to everyone from undergraduates to faculty to political professionals.” - Associate Professor Ken Cosgrove, Suffolk University, Boston, USA

Course presenter(s)

Associate Professor Jennifer Lees-Marshment

Jennifer Lees-Marshment is an Associate Professor at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Author/editor of 15 books, Jennifer is a world expert in political marketing with additional research interests in public input, leadership, and government. Jennifer teaches the practice of politics, political management and political marketing and has interviewed over 200 political practitioners in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand including advisors to world leaders Kevin Rudd, Helen Clark, Tony Blair, George W Bush and Stephen Harper and government ministers. She regularly engages in media commentary and was academic advisor to TVNZ’s Vote Compass in the 2014 and 2017 New Zealand elections. See for further details or email

Updated:  25 October 2021/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team