Written by Abigail Smith • Published 12th January 2017 • 4 minute read
Personal PR and Public Affairs can go together hand in glove to support each other and make the overall outcome more successful. For example, if you’re a successful business leader looking to increase your public profile and take your career to the next level, or a celebrity looking to champion an issue and really make a difference, then a joint PR/PA approach might be just the thing for you.
Whereas PR tends to focus on building an individual’s profile and creating opportunities for commentary in the media eye, Public Affairs focuses on building relationships and influence within the political world. This can include an individual wanting to campaign for the Government to change its mind on an issue, or to help support the Government carrying out a task, by getting a government role in whatever the individual is an expert in.
A strong approach in both can help the other: success in politics can present more PR opportunities, and vice-versa. It can also help to boost your business credibility by having politicians champion the work that your business is doing, spread the word about an individual or a company’s latest endeavours, and ensure that you are seen as being at the forefront in your sector.
Many notable businesspersons have gone on to have huge success in the political sphere. A great example is female entrepreneur, Michelle Mone. Baroness Mone first became heavily involved in politics during the Scottish independence referendum, campaigning for Britain to remain ‘Stronger Together’. With a passion for entrepreneurship and small business, then Prime Minister David Cameron appointed her to conduct a review on business start-ups in deprived areas, and in August 2015 she was given a peerage.
Win the hat I wore to Buckingham Palace if you donate £ to charity&post pic to prove.Winner chosen at random 2morrow pic.twitter.com/wbxODn3pqp
— Lady Mone (@MichelleMone) April 30, 2016
With recent global developments there is a huge correlation between what is happening in the world of politics and what is on the front pages. From a PR perspective this means that there are boundless opportunities for individuals to raise their concerns, or show support every single day. Through a measured and educated approach, Emma Watson has boosted her profile and established herself as an active campaigner for gender equality (resulting in her appointment as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador). Similarly Benedict Cumberbatch has regularly campaigned in favour of remain in the EU referendum, but by taking a measured and considered approach was not lambasted by the media.
Politicians are also influenced by what is in the news, and if your PR team secures opportunities for you to discuss issues such as Brexit, or the HS2/Broadband debate, there is no doubt that you will be noticed in the political world. This is particularly the case if you can be seen to ‘own’ a particular agenda, as many politicians are keen to hear expert advice.
Personal PR is executed through a variety of means such as news agenda commentary, speaking opportunities and profiling slots. When a businessperson is starting out in elevating their profile, it can be very tempting to want to be heard and seen everywhere. Any PR worth their salt knows that it pays to ensure that you work with outlets that are in-keeping with the individual and business message. Similarly, in the world of politics although it may be tempting to swamp every single MP with a vague interest in your field with letters, this tactic is rarely successful with most round-robin letters ending up in the bin. It is far better to speak to your public affairs team who can carry out an analysis to discover who all your key political stakeholders are, and work out both the messaging you should use and how you should engage with them which will get you noticed.
However, jumping into politics without a strong team around you can be a disaster. it is important to get expert advice before anyone starts reaching out to the political world – with the right PR and an already raised profile, what you say will surely have an impact. Without proper guidance and prep, it is easy to come off as ill informed, out of touch or patronizing. See Meryl Streep and Tom Hiddleston at the Golden Globes, Sol Campbell running for London Mayor, or Michael Sheen’s interview where it was widely reported that he was giving up acting for politics (which he later had to deny after being slammed by much of the press).
— michael sheen (@michaelsheen) October 20, 2016
Those who do get it right can reap the rewards both politically and personally. Some key examples include TV star Baroness Floella Benjamin, actress Tracy Brabin MP (newly elected MP for Batley and Spen), Arnold Schwarzeneggar, and man of the moment Donald Trump. If there’s one thing that we can take from this somewhat motley crew, with the right team behind you, anything is possible…