What is Public Affairs?
Public affairs is a term used to describe an organisation’s relationship with stakeholders. These are individuals or groups with an interest in the organisation's affairs, such as politicians (MPs, MSPs, AMs, MLAs, MEPs), civil servants, customers and local communities, clients, shareholders, trade associations, think tanks, business groups, charities, unions and the media.
Public affairs practitioners engage stakeholders in order to explain organisational policies and views on public policy issues, assisting policy makers and legislators in amending or laying down better policy and legislation. They provide statistical and factual information and lobby on issues which could impact upon the organisation's ability to operate successfully.
“Lobbying serves an important function in politics – by putting forward the views of stakeholders to policy makers, it helps in the development of better legislation” - Introducing a Statutory Register of Lobbyists, Consultation Paper, January 2012.
Public affairs work combines government relations, media communications, issue management, corporate and social responsibility, information dissemination and strategic communications advice. Practitioners aim to influence public policy, build and maintain a strong reputation and find common ground with stakeholders.
There may often also be some aspects of public affairs and policy work associated with working in public relations, press and media relations and crisis communications.
Public Affairs Job Titles
The public affairs industry has no set form for job titles, and practitioners can be described in varying forms including: public affairs, policy, government affairs, government relations, parliamentary affairs, parliamentary relations, European affairs, regulatory affairs, political advisor, political researcher, external affairs, external relations, International affairs, campaigns, advocacy, corporate communications, corporate affairs, research and information management, stakeholder relations, community relations and stakeholder management.
Read more about what you could be doing as a public affairs practitioner in our Guide to Working in Public Affairs.