Public affairs can be defined as building and developing relations between an organization and politicians, governments and other decision-makers. This is an industry that has evolved during recent years and is usually looked at as a branch or sub-discipline of public relations (PR).
Activities of public affairs professionals
Public affairs is a specialized domain and there are diverse activities that include lobbying on specific policies or legislation, disseminating information to stakeholders either directly or through media engagement, providing advice, advocacy, consulting and monitoring political activity and information.
Often, people find it tough to figure out the difference between public affairs and public relations. Public affairs pertain to issues that matter the public directly such as legislation, policing, and public administration. Public relations tend to focus more on the company’s connection with the public.
How lobbying helps promote business
Lobbying is not new, it has been around for centuries. Lobbying is all about positively influencing the government, legislation and decision-makers to promote an industry or business. Most of the lobbying is done discreetly by influencing politicians in power. To carry more credibility, seemingly independent people are entrusted with the message in many cases. Public affairs in short help transform a client’s business goals into powerful political priorities. Wall Street lobbyists and the financial industry for instance spend over $100 million annually to “court regulators and lawmakers”, as they were responsible for “finalizing new regulations for lending, trading and debit card fees.”
Building and positioning brand image
Public affairs helps create a positive aura around a brand or corporate by pushing it into the limelight at the opportune time. The carefully-cultivated image built by the think tank helps it relate to the target and make them respond with approval. This ultimately results in better business.
Advocacy is one of the most powerful methods of influencing public opinion. This is all about an individual sharing a positive experience about the company or brand. When this is done by a thought leader say a politician or celebrity, the impact gets magnified manifold.
Monitoring politics and handling response
Public affairs professionals constantly monitor current affair s especially those related to the government, politicians and legislation. The geopolitical landscape is constantly changing and one needs to stay abreast of the political climate, the policies, changes in them and various perceptions. For instance, say you are in a manufacturing sector that causes pollution and a sudden environmental law passed shows your sector in bad light, it’s important to respond right to this. Public affairs specialists help you shape the appropriate response which will present your sector more positively. Besides this, there could also be instances of crisis communications. Say for example, a careless employee’s act triggered a fire in a factory and some employees died in the accident. The media could be point out safety lapses. To prevents the damage from killing your brand image, an immediate crisis response is required and a public affairs professional helps with that.
Consulting and advice
Public affairs professionals have their eyes and nose everywhere. They use their business intelligence and expertise to provide consulting on various levels of business issues and provide the right advice.
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