How to Establish a New Political Party – Part 2

Continued from Part 1

4) Key Functions of a New Party

For the basics of a new party, you will need some cornerstone functions:

Public Relations/Press Relations – you will grow (or wither) with the press, so this is a critical function. More on this later on.

Security – bad people will want to hurt both the leader, and members of the group. This is a vital function, particularly up until the point where you have enough critical mass of supporters to be more protected. Think big people (but avoid crazies who may cause you a lot more damage that it is worth).

Legal – you are going to get into trouble at some point, and you really need at least one lawyer on your side, and probably a whole team. This is an easy one to miss but vital for even short term support.

Marketing – you will need to get out there and spread your message by foot, and also through social media and other network-spread techniques. Someone has to work on design, craft the wording (and write speeches and catchy phrases), layout posters, etc. Someone needs to be responsible for production, creating posters, flyers, badges and T-shirts. Someone needs to be responsible for distribution, a vital component that is easy to forget about. Wouldn’t it be stupid to have a whole bunch of wicked cool branded T-shirts, and then they fail to get smuggled into the square??

Negotiation / Relationship Development – as you want your party to be inclusive, you would need a leader and a team to communicate with other groups, be they political parties or associations / networks. In the case of networks, you might reach out to women’s groups, religious groups (all sides), business chamber of commerce, etc. The key is that you want to learn what these folks would like to see from a unity movement, and ultimately to get them onside as leaders of their communities, and share their support with their wider networks.

Membership – somehow you need to develop a list of members, and manage their contact details. This will be important as you try to grow your base, and use your members and their networks to expand your influence, especially away from your physical center.

5) From the Name – Signs, logos and Rituals

People have a desire to affiliate. They want to associate, and be seen to associate, with people or things they feel connected to.

One of the best things the movement can do is design a snappy logo that somehow encapsulates the values in the brand name (see Part 1 for information on naming).

The logo can then be used on leaflets, posters, T-shirts and pin badges. They help identify those in the movement, and might help encourage those not in the movement to come on board.

Pins and badges are good as they are cheap to make and distribute, and can be concealed as required. A Polish friend of mine described how students and school children in Warsaw started stitching transistors into their clothing as a sign of quiet protest. Pretty soon all the kids were wearing transistors, even if half of them had no idea why they were doing it.

You might also consider some form of ritual greeting, a special handshake or a nod. Now, at this point you’d be thinking of nastier forms of ritualistic greeting. If so, you are kind of on the right track. Before one gets high and mighty, I strongly believe that in order to be ‘good’ you must understand ‘evil people’. At some point you might be faced with evil, and so you need to defend yourself (see Harry Potter – the students at Hogwarts all had to learn Defence against the Dark Arts). And sometimes the evil people have some great tactics which can be turned and harnessed for good.

So, yes, you are on the right track. A ritual greeting demonstrates people being in an in-group, and might encourage some people to join. But be careful with this one – it has its drawbacks.

6) The Insane Importance of Press & PR

Establishing a movement is one big PR exercise. Ideally you become a leader and get a key place at the negotiating table… if you have somehow been anointed by the press as a leader.


Right now (6 February), it is almost impossible to find named individuals who are leaders of the opposition. I have tried, and yes, I may have missed some names, but by and large, you would expect there to be a couple of names now popping up over and over again.

It would not be too difficult to become the name everyone refers too. Don’t forget, the branding needs to be around the movement / party and the leader. And ideally don’t forget to have a couple of other parallel ‘leaders’ in the frame as well, both to add credibility to the party and just in case the boss is in jail.

I’d recommend quickly contacting the key international and national press agencies, and individual journalists via their Twitter accounts. And I’d select a smaller group of journalists who are well-respected, and willing to take a chance on following a new group trying to get established. I would definitely go for a global brand media station – Al-Jazerra is a must, and something like the New York Times would be nice.

I would also make sure you have a great writer who can craft press releases and speeches, and make sure you keep the press informed (Twitter, PR releases) as to progress.

I imagine that the current environment will see lots of new parties be created – and maybe they will all use this document to help them get started! Therefore you will somehow need angles to stand out from the crowd. Otherwise, remember the scene from Life of Brian…?

Working on Part 3…

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