Written by Alex Garvey • Published 28th October 2015
Why PR and Public Affairs are Perfect Partners
Never before has there been greater correlation between what happens in Parliament, and what makes the front pages. With a new Conservative government, the rise of both Jeremy Corbyn and the SNP and the decline of the Lib Dems, it’s safe to say that things are going to be interesting politically for some time to come – with a growing number of column inches, articles, interviews and debates dedicated to politics.
This offers ongoing opportunities for PR firms keen to offer their client’s take on the latest debate, Bill, speech or initiative, providing fertile ground for weighty and impactful coverage. Yet many firms continue to miss a trick, using politics as something to peg news stories to, rather than as a tool of influence itself.
We are often approached by clients who want to ensure that politicians change their opinion on an issue; to campaign for change or to challenge an anticipated change.
There is no better way of doing so that through employing a mixed brief, using PR and public affairs as perfect compliments, reaching a variety of key audiences, and ultimately influencing opinion and behaviour from multiple angles.
Journalists want to cover issues with weight and credibility, and pegging approaches to parliamentary activity is a great way to demonstrate that an issue is not only relevant, it is something which cannot be ignored.
The opposite is also true. The vast majority of all materials delivered directly to MPs are ignored, this is something people don’t talk about, but it is a reality. Politicians are busy people, with an immense range of issues to consider, and what better way to cut through the noise than by delivering press coverage which says, this issue is relevant (it’s in the national press today), the press think it’s important (they’ve covered it), and so does the general, voting public.
A well-orchestrated mixed campaign works because it reaches each audience in the most effective way whilst ensuring that a consistent message is delivered through press and Parliament.
Orchestrated properly, this results in sustained coverage in the press and discussion points in Parliament, building a weight of momentum behind key arguments. Of course, process of communicating with journalists and politicians can be significantly different, but the outcome is the same – getting the right message to people who can make a difference.
We recently worked around the assisted suicide debate in the run up to Second Reading in the House of Commons, providing the press with a string of comment, case study and research based stories around the issue. At the same time, we audited political opinion on assisted suicide, delivering briefings to those undecided on how they would vote – essential information for an issue of such magnitude.
The result, sustained coverage of key arguments surrounding the issue, and the most discussed item in Commons history with 85 MPs offering their views in the chamber and mass top-level coverage of the day’s biggest news story.
PR and public affairs are perfect partners because they amplify each’s key benefits, influencing the opinions and – most importantly – actions, of some of the country’s most powerful people. Big issues are news, and by definition become political when they can no longer be ignored.
As the line between press and politics continues to blur, there has never been a better time to tackle an issue on both fronts.