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?|
|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?
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?|