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Public affairs consultant: Job description

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Public affairs consultants are often referred to as lobbyists, but their work is more wide-ranging. They use their understanding of the political system to offer political and public policy advice to their clients. Clients may include private sector companies, trade associations, charities, not-for-profit organisations and overseas governments.

Keeping abreast of political developments, in order to advise clients on a possible response, is vital to the role. Key information is sought from personal contacts, a range of media sources and political intelligence and monitoring.

Public affairs consultants identify key stakeholders in the decision-making process at European, national, regional and local government levels. They work to maintain relationships with these individuals and to assist clients to promote and protect their interests effectively.

Typical work activities

Key areas of work include:

  • monitoring the activities of Parliament, Whitehall and other relevant bodies and organisations;
  • raising the profile of an organisation/client;
  • lobbying;
  • public relations work;
  • providing strategic communications advice;
  • providing general public affairs support.

The amount of time spent on different activities varies according to the type of employer (for example, consultancy or in-house organisation) and level of experience required. For example, some consultancies do very little lobbying, whereas others describe themselves as lobbyists.

At entry level, you will be involved in a high level of research and monitoring of information, while an account director will be principally involved in strategic planning and relationship management.

Typical activities are likely to include:

  • monitoring proceedings and providing analysis of activities in the Houses of Parliament, government departments, European institutions, political parties, local government, think-tanks, pressure groups, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other bodies in order to keep clients informed of any developments related to their field of activity;
  • reading parliamentary publications and printed transcripts, such as Hansard, and monitoring other activities such as debates, questions, committee enquiries, statements, reports, regulations and legislation;
  • assisting with research and drafting written submissions to government consultations and select committee inquiries;
  • researching, forecasting and evaluating the effects of public policy on an organisation, using public sources, political intelligence and personal contacts;
  • writing newsletters, briefings, campaign material and press releases;
  • attending select committee hearings, party conferences and other events;
  • establishing and maintaining two-way communication with relevant official bodies and stakeholders;
  • maintaining regular contact, in person and in writing, with politicians, civil servants, and staff in local authorities and regulatory bodies to brief them on clients' work and concerns;
  • responding to public policy threats and opportunities;
  • maintaining relationships with existing stakeholders and developing new business;
  • providing media management and other publicity activities;
  • reviewing the effectiveness of previous activities and how the client is viewed by political and other stakeholders.

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Written by AGCAS editors
March 2015

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