The days when party conferences were solely for politicians and activists have come to an end.
Parties always used their conferences to obtain publicity, but they no longer assume the media are going to follow their debates and announcements in great detail.
Instead, they are using them as opportunities to reach out directly to voters.
The Conservative event in Birmingham next month will see the party descend on the city, and not just the hallowed halls of the International Convention Centre.
Members of the shadow cabinet have already started visiting a community project in Quinton and they will get their hands dirty during the conference itself by helping renovate its headquarters and improve local sports facilities.
Edgbaston, of course, is a Labour-held seat which David Cameron’s party hopes to win at the next election.
It may be predictable that the response of local MP Gisela Stuart, whose Edgbaston constituency covers the project, is less than welcoming.
But Ms Stuart does make a fair point. One danger for the Conservatives is that their interest in supporting the local community comes across as a publicity stunt rather than a genuine attempt to help.
They may avoid this trap, of course. And the party has been stressing the importance of communities helping themselves, with Government playing an enabling roles instead of trying to do everything itself, for a long time now.
An issue the Quinton projects highlights is the serious divisions which still exist in our society.
Edgbaston is a wealthy area, but Ms Stuart’s constituency still contains areas of deprivation. Levels of education, unemployment and health can vary dramatically between neighbouring wards.
It is always tempting to see this as a failing of the Government which has run the country since 1997, but Labour inherited huge divisions rather than creating them. Furthermore, there is a tendency for disparities to widen whenever any country grows richer, as Britain has been doing more or less consistently since around 1992.
Gordon Brown and his Government are also to visit the region soon when they hold a Cabinet here. Once again, the West Midlands is top of the politicians’ agenda.