Saturday, January 21, 2012

Lobbying or Public Affairs? Putting the Public back in Public Affairs.

Intro: This is a compilation of some thoughts I tweeted today on the role of public affairs in corporate strategy planning, of the merger of public affairs and communications, the effect of mass media and social media on public affairs and public policy making, the return of the "Agora" of Ancient Athens, etc.

Food for thought or more?

1) Does your company incorporate Public Affairs in its Strategic Planning function? IMO, it should.
Public Affairs is not about "lobbying". "Lobbying" is IMO the least important part, if a part at all, of a Public Affairs function in this era.

IMO/IME corporate Public Affairs has a new core value: Awareness of upcoming policy & evaluation of its effects on company's strategic planning

2) Public Affairs meets Communications: IMO it's better to influence public opinion on policy issues than directly the policy makers. That means that the Public Affairs and the Communications functions must work together within a company or other organisation.

3) Public Affairs for All: Every person and organisation has the right to communicate its views on public affairs-policy issues but it must be done in public not private

I know. It does represent a tad of a radical new approach to Public Affairs! But times are evolving and what doesn't evolve perishes like eg the dinosaurs.

The proliferation of media (traditional & online) as well as social media, brings back the Public in Public Affairs.

4) The sum of all those media constitute a new "Agora", Ancient Athens type, where opinions must be expressed and debated on civic/policy issues

Plus texts of all proposed policy/legislative initiatives are accessible via the www hence it's a whole different ballgame. Back to basics, actually!

That potentially makes "lobbying" obsolete and re-focuses on the "Agora" and the Public aspect of Public Affairs.

5) It can even be argued that corporations have an obligation to their shareholders (and maybe to their stakeholders too) to have & publicly express/debate opinions on public policy issues that affect them (corporate citizenship etc).

It's a Citizens' (Civil) Society, right?

6) Voters have the right to know what opinions "their" MP & MEP expressed, debated and voted for/against on each public policy issue. Some already demand so, rightly.

The citizens of the 27 of the EU eg have a right to know what opinions their government reps expressed, debated and voted in the EUCO (European Council), the Council of the EU, the 2 Corepers, the working groups, etc.

These are aspects of the new emerging reality in both public affairs and public policy making. Adapt or perish?

7) Another dimension to this: Financial analysis too must incorporate the effects of new public policy on the future performance of companies, sectors & economies


What do lobbies, corridors and the like have to do with these emerging new systemics? Nothing, IMO.

Nick Panayotopoulos, January 20, 2012.

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