Oslo | Benny Damsgaard - 28/11

P for preparation to Folkemødet

The preparations for a successful Folkemøde recalls the creation of the Finance Act. You must start the year before, know its limitations and have a strategy – but you can come away with less work. Director of Public Affairs at Geelmuyden Kiese, Benny Damsgaard, gives advice on how to make the most out of Folkemødet – even if you just booked your ticket.

In the Ministry of Finance, preparations for the Finance Act of 2018 began as soon as the agreement for 2017 was concluded. One began with collecting wishes from the line ministries, looking on the overall economic framework, and not least started planning which strategic bits give out during the negotiations.

The same principles can be used with advantage when planning one’s presence at Folkemødet. Optimally, one should already have started the preparations for Folkemødet 2018. Even though it may seem early, for many of the practical things it is already too late. For example, the best accommodation close to Allinge have often been booked years in advance.

Start with a question to yourself

Although it sounds trivial, always start out asking yourself; What do we really want to achieve at Folkemødet, and is Folkemødet the best place to achieve it? Every year, I meet companies and especially organizations that primarily attend Folkemødet because it is in their annual plan. They have not made an updated assessment of whether Folkemødet still is the best way for them to meet with stakeholders and media. Maybe there are cheaper and easier ways to meet the same stakeholders and media.

Not instead of media coverage…

As an example, if one’s goal is to get in the media or gain reach on social media, then Folkemødet is not the right place for most. The competition for media’s attention there is so hard, there is hardly a point in trying at all. The same goes for social media. Despite repeated promises of improvement from Folkemødet, the internet coverage in Allinge remains under all criticism. And if you get logged on, #dkpol is so crowded you will drown in the feed. Therefore, if your goal is to be in media, use your energy at home before and especially after Folkemødet. For example, in July the calm holiday period starts, and all media crave news and content.

Think unconventional

If your goal is to set a political topic for a debate among the most important players in your industry, then Folkemødet can still be the place to be for you. But here I emphasize “can”. Too many of the debates at Folkemødet could equally well take place in Copenhagen, and are in addition uncommonly dull. It is the same people (often middle-aged men) who debates the same subjects with the same people (their colleagues in the other industry associations). Therefore, think unconventionally. Take advantage of being on Bornholm, and begin early with planning! The competition for the good debaters and moderators is fierce.

Network, network, network

The trip to Allinge is not in vain, even if you did not start the preparations last summer. The crowd is still one of the very best places to cultivate and nurture networks, and you can do that without preparing yourself a whole year in advance. All you need is to spend the next couple of days reviewing the program and decide which politicians or opinion-makers you want to reach, and what you want to say to them. But you will need to be quick on your feet, the sought-after debaters follow a tight schedule and rarely have time to chit-chat afterwards. But there may be time for that on some of the many parties and receptions during Folkemødet. But keep it light, no one wants to talk too much work after a long day of debates and with a beer in their hand. The good approach is two messages, a business card and a promise to follow-up. 

I have been to Folkemødet every year, except one. It has evolved tremendously over time. From a cousin party for Christiansborg and its surroundings to a huge festival with thousands of people. You can still get a lot out of going to Bornholm, but on the premise that you know what you want to achieve. Otherwise, stay home and enjoy the sudden abundance of space in and around Copenhagen K.