The term “public affairs” is commonplace on the news and in government meetings, but what exactly is public affairs and what does it involve? Not to be confused with public relations, public affairs is defined by the Public Affairs Council as an organization’s efforts to monitor and manage its business environment. It combines strategies for government relations, communications, issues management and corporate citizenship. Public affairs aims to influence public policy, build and maintain strong relationships with elected officials such as legislators, and engage with and monitor stakeholders. Those who specialize in public affairs act as lobbyists on behalf of their organizations, and they interact with groups who are interested in lobbying the government for legislation regarding particular issues.
How Does Public Affairs Work?
Public affairs tend to deal with noncorporate entities, such as government agencies, nonprofits, and trade associations. Some roles involved with public affairs include lobbyist, policy analyst, community affairs manager, and policy program coordinator. Advocacy plays a major part in public affairs. Government and public advocacy are key aspects to a successful public affairs strategy. Creating and maintaining relationships that will benefit your industry or cause is vital to influencing laws and actions.
Lobbyists, whose purpose is to take part in an organized attempt to influence legislators, are professional advocates for individuals and organizations. The advocacy a lobbyist takes part in can help shape laws and regulations and help introduce new legislation that will support the organization’s cause. They also fight back against any policies or legislation that would cause harm to their organization or industry.
The Difference Between Public Affairs and Public Relations
One common misconception is that public affairs is the same as public relations. While they have similarities, such as both involving interaction with the public, they are different in that public affairs involves matters that directly affect the public, such as legislation, whereas public relations build a connection between the public and a specific organization. Public affairs tend to focus on public policy while public relations deals more with commercial goals. This is the main difference between the two.
With public relations focusing mostly on marketing and improving a company’s image, the strategies are different from those found in a public affairs campaign. In public relations you may use some of the following strategies:
- Drafting Press Releases.
- Sending pitches to journalists.
- Reaching out to media contacts.
- Social media strategy
- Creating content.
- Launching PR campaigns.
- Writing speeches.
Public affairs services are used by companies to help align business interests and public policies. Some of the strategies used to achieve this are:
- Lobbying for and against legislation or regulations at the local, state, or federal level.
- Establishing contact and maintaining ongoing relationships with politicians, political advisors, and government regulators.
- Maintaining a strong relationship with company stakeholders.
- Monitor policy proceedings that pertain to an industry.
- Leveraging power of words to influence public policy.
- Coalition Building
- Data Analysis
- Grassroots Mobilization
- Surveys, Public Opinion Polling
Public affairs and public relations can both use the media to help their cause, so reaching out to journalists and media outlets to form relationships is a strategy found in both areas. Sometimes you may use some public relations strategies with public affairs, and vice versa.
Our Public Affairs Experience
During these tumultuous times of an ever changing political, legislative and regulatory landscape in which government is having a huge impact on industries and organizations, having a strong public affairs program is vital.
The Arc 3 Communications’ public affairs team is an effective advocate on behalf of business and a leader in shaping public policy issues. We offer experienced, talented, well-connected and spirited advocacy at the intersection of government, business, media, and the community.
We are “campaign people” who are driven by the understanding that there will be an “election day” and that we’ll have to deliver results.
Do you need help with your public affairs efforts and strategies? We would love to hear from you! Contact us here.