With a General Election coming, it’s time to step up your Public Affairs

About the author

Dr Stuart Thomson Chart.PR is a communications and public affairs consultant helping clients navigate politics, government, the media and Brexit. He advises clients on all elements of their public affairs strategies including corporate communications and reputation management issues. His work has included legislative lobbying, profile-raising, planning communications and he has also worked on a number of high profile media relations and crisis communications programmes for clients across a range of sectors. Stuart has also dealt with health and safety incidents, high profile corporate announcements, government reports and consumer TV investigations.

Photo by Deniz Fuchidzhiev on Unsplash
Photo by Deniz Fuchidzhiev on Unsplash

Our PRCA Diploma in Public Affairs Management has had a refresh and it couldn’t be more timely.

As a General Election approaches, organisations should focus more on their political engagement. If they don’t then they are deliberately increasing their risk levels. No organisation should take that approach.

Dealing with politics and policy-making can seem challenging. Some organisations are put off from engaging because of the language used or a lack of understanding about the way that politics and policy development are conducted. Some simply do not like politics and do not see a connection between it and running a business.

The reality is that politics is fundamental to the running of any organisation. Government sets the laws, regulations and taxes that create the environment in which we operate.

It is constantly making decisions that have an impact. To not engage in trying to influence those decisions would be a failure by the organisation and leadership teams should take a dim view.

The run-up to a General Election puts the whole process into warp speed. Political parties always need a stream of new ideas and thinking but even more so when developing a manifesto to put before the electorate.

But they also need to hear real-life experiences, evidence and data about ideas that they receive from others as well. Are those policy ideas that they want to go public with really workable?

The approach to a General Election is both a time of opportunities and threats but the only way to ensure that they are managed is through engagement. That means public affairs activity should be at the top of an organisation’s priorities.

If organisations can see the important role that public affairs plays then it needs to ensure that its people have the right skills and resources in place. It should invest in its capability.

Public affairs is about identifying and utilising opportunities for engagement; developing networks and relationships; building and protecting reputations; understanding the role that Parliament plays, putting monitoring systems in place to keep you informed; writing submissions and a range of other skills.

These are all areas that we cover in the updated PRCA Diploma in Public Affairs Management, delivered online. The course now sits on PR Academy’s bespoke Study Hub learning platform and includes lots of great resources. Students can study at their own pace and benefit from plenty of support from me as course leader.

As part of the refresh, we’ve got a series of podcast discussions with other leading practitioners and more to come! It has been great to work with Nikki da Costa, Iain Anderson, Lionel Zetter and Louise Abraham on them.

The run-up to a General Election is the ideal time to ensure an organisation has the skilled team it needs to manage its political risks and make the most of the opportunities.

PRCA Diploma in Public Affairs Management