Public Affairs

The objective of public affairs is to predict and influence the public environment to the benefit of the enterprise.

Public affairs manages issues in the public domain, not just issues to be decided by government.

Public affairs establishes an agenda and builds stakeholders in achieving solutions.

Public affairs – managing challenging issues in the public environment – isn’t a task that should be undertaken without a thorough understanding of the challenge, the terms of success and the impact on the organization. Some of the critical issues to consider include the following:

Commitment to Lead

What is the problem we are trying to solve?

Why are we trying to solve it?
What are the benefits to us of solving it?
What are the problems for us if it’s not solved?

What do we need to know?

What is the history of this issue? How did we get to this point?
What are the political implications of our involvement; of proposed solutions?
What are the barriers to success?

Who cares?

What are the public attitudes?
Who are the stakeholders, and what are their attitudes?
What are the attitudes of peer organizations; competitors?

Why hasn’t this problem been solved before?

A lack of political resolve?  Is it a partisan issue? Is it a politically defining issue for a party, a key political interest?
A lack of leadership; by whom?
Are resources lacking?
Is there entrenched opposition?

What makes us think we can solve it now?

Why us?
Why now?

Is this a business priority?

What is the business significance?
Will there be a corporate face on this issue? Who?  For how long?
Is there leadership consensus on the solutions?
Is the organization willing to realign parts of the organization to succeed (e.g., create new teams, merge resources)?

Is our organization committed to creating solutions?

Are we committed to invest the appropriate resources?
Is there a coherent, unified team approach?  Does management of the issue need a dedicated leader?
Is this a corporate-wide commitment, or the focus of one or a few departments?
Are there internal barriers that have to be overcome?
What will NOT get done if we invest the resources needed on this issue? Are we okay with this?

Do we want to “own” this issue,

or are we willing to follow?

Are the solutions as important as being identified as a leader on the issue?
Are we willing to provoke new thinking, new discussion on the issue?  Even in the face of controversy?
Will we be publicly linked to the issue?



What does success look like?

 If we succeed, what will be different?

…in one year?
…in five years?
…in 10 years?

Who will be measuring us?

Are these the right evaluators, or do we need to change the judges?

What is the cost of failure?

To the issue? Will failure make the problem worse?
Will failure make the opposition stronger?
To stakeholders? Is the status quo better/worse than failure?
Will failure threaten progress on other issues?
To us? How will our reputation be affected?
How will other priorities be affected?