March 3, 2021

20 things you should have in your Public Affairs toolbox (Part 4)

As a Public Affairs professional you have many tools available to create attention on a relevant issue or assert your organisation's influence. But often we see PA people getting stuck with a few of their favorite tools and thus miss out on new opportunities and tactics. Therefore we are going back to PA basics and will in a series of four articles present you with the 20 essential tools for Public Affairs work. The list of PA tools is extracted from Ulobby CEO Anders Kopp Jensen’s book The Public Affairs Engine - please note that the tools are not ranked in any particular order - their usefulness always depends on the situation and the nature of your organisation.

Did you miss Part 1 of the list? See it here

  1. On-site visits

Policy papers or policy catalogues can be seen as a political proposal or contribution as a solution to an ongoing political discussion. Make sure it is crisp, well-documented and credible, don’t exaggerate positive or negative effects which you may or may not agree to.

Pro tip: It’s a good idea to have two versions – one one-pager for a “layman” and one very detailed and more comprehensive outline of the challenge, economic consequences and concrete legislation text (if relevant).

  1. Constituency “love”

This is connected to 16. Another classic tactic, but which nonetheless is not always utilized. The recipe is simple: Take a look at your stakeholder list, the different tiers and position of the stakeholders, and then see if there are certain people you should give extra attention to in their constituency by being active and present so they will notice your efforts. In short, show the constituencies love!

Pro tip: There are many activities to consider, from events that may be arranged together with the politician or in a more indirect way by writing a com- ment in the local newspaper or buying billboard ads in high profile locations in the constituency.

  1. Internal SoMe ambassador corps

Creating ambassadors across your organization is not a new phenomenon. However, with the wave of SoMe becoming mainstream, these ambassadors can also do a lot of good digitally. For example, it is seen often in labor organizations or NGOs that educate a selected or volunteer corps of ambassadors in how to approach debates online.

Pro tip: Make sure that you: 1) educate the corps professionally and with competent instructors/teachers, and 2) nurse the corps with high-quality inspiration on a steady basis which they can easily use, for instance when they sit down on the couch in the evening or commute on the train in the morning. This can be a very powerful Public Affairs enhancer.

  1. Grassroot mobilization or astroturfing

This is also – for some – another controversial subject. Especially in the time of fake news astroturfing has a bad rep, but the term is basically the practice of enabling or promoting (critics would say “masking”) the cause or movement and encouraging it to push on. Normal grassroot activity is very “natural”, impulsive or unstructured, while astroturfing may turn a movement into a near-professional organization. Like it or not, it is a phenomenon which some PA professionals know about and shouldn’t be scared of addressing. As long as you as a company are transparent about the causes you support and you are ready to explain it in public, then you are shouldn’t be scared of this.

Pro tip: Small organizations or movements locally can make a huge difference in stopping or promoting a certain issue. For example, encouraging local residents in arguing their case if it is in line with your cause. Remember to be public about who you endorse so you don’t get criticized for this later which then may compromise your cause.

  1. Election party club

This is a concept which has appeared more than a handful of times in the 500PAC. The essential idea is creating a network or club gathering around elections across the world. This gives the arranger a chance to gather relevant KOLs around a topic which occurs naturally, so they don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time. And even though you cannot predict all elections by date, it is something which is often prioritized over all other things as the members want insights on the consequences of the election.

Pro tip: Many reported that besides having a lot of cold beer and wine lined up you also need someone to lay out the essence of the election debates and about who is combating. But aside from this it requires only a big screen and a fridge.

Anders Kopp Jensen

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