Policy/Public Affairs – How it should be!

During the course of our work I regularly come into contact with other consultancies who claim to offer similar services to us, but I am constantly surprised at the different approaches that they offer.

Some, I can genuinely say, are excellent and committed professionals (just like Principle!) who have a real grasp of their client’s issues and understand the landscape their clients work in. Others (and I am naming no names) are more interested in name-dropping their ‘contacts’ in Westminster while offering no real comprehension of the charities goals or policy ambitions – I even met someone from a company whose big idea was to target MPs spouses, but could not advise on what business was happening in Parliament. I have no doubt that in some sectors the ‘old boy network’ may be a valid approach, but in charity lobbying I think that strength of your argument and clear reasoning are 100 times more effective. Obviously good contacts are important and we all work hard to build up useful networks, but it’s about knowing what to say to whom and when rather than setting up meetings with no clear goals.

This is why we impress upon our clients the importance of strong policy development work alongside any political lobbying. Principle understands that policy and public affairs are two sides of the same coin. An excellent public affairs strategy is rooted in an organisation’s policy objectives, whilst excellent policy development requires a comprehensive understanding of the political environment. The best strategies combine policy and public affairs assessing the best way to progress an organisation’s policy goals within the prevailing political environment. As well as having all the usual attributes of a public affairs agency, Principle has the added dimension of real understanding of the relevent policy aims. We combine the two to achieve the best possible results for our clients.

Charities walk a constant tightrope trying to make their policy goals relevant to a particular political environment whilst staying true to their core values, and we are constantly on-hand to clients to offer advice on how to do this. It may sound obvious but it’s amazing how many seem to overlook this.

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