Maybe you have heard of the 4 P’s of marketing introduced in the 1990’s to create a more simple and tangible framework for marketing professionals. And inspired by this philosophy and more than 500 conversations with Public Affairs professionals, I (Anders Kopp Jensen, CEO at Ulobby) have derived the 5 P’s of Public Affairs to provide a similar tangible framework for Public Affairs professionals.
Just as in marketing, and no matter the size of your organization it is crucial that you understand the product you are selling - in Public Affairs’ case it is often insight and influence - and comprehend how your efforts actively contribute to the business objectives of your own organization or the clients. I have often seen the Public Affairs department becoming a pariah in the organization due to the lack of documentation on the direct effect of the effort.
The internal processes are key for success in every department of the organization. However, I often see Public Affairs departments having very little insight into the processes that shape their own home field. Maybe it is to due to Public Affairs almost always being focused on external factors but understanding the mechanics and how the Public Affairs department fits into these are crucial. The better the department fits the organizational structure, the higher the performance. A pro-tip for inspiration is to look at R&D departments and how they create value across the organization - both externally and internally.
The successful Public Affairs strategy is always based on a level of strategic foresight into the position you want to take and all the negotiations and trade-offs you need to do in order to get to that position. Therefore, it is important not to have your entire focus on a single hot issue but rather build a clear Public Affairs strategy for the entire organization. Define who you want to be in the society - and remember to keep it aligned with your organization’s business objectives. A clear and comprehensive strategy - built for the future - will open up for easier tactical and operational decisions.
Keeping an eye on policy should be a no-brainer for Public Affairs professionals - it is in many ways the essence of Public Affairs - but I have seen departments being swallowed up by regular communication efforts - or stakeholder management borderlining into being a sales department, thus forgetting the importance of knowing and understanding the society and the zeitgeist surrounding the organization.
A major pitfall in Public Affairs efforts for the past many years have been the lack of documentation of resultat, clear KPI’s and the use of these to increase performance. I will give that previously Public Affairs results have been somewhat intangible and could take many years of dedicated work before a presentable result emerged. But with today’s technological advances in measuring and increasing results and performance there are no excuses. And instead of Public Affairs professionals being scared of being measured in a more quantitative way, we should embrace it - because being able to prove your results higher up in the organization through numbers and tangible results - instead of just revenue increase and the size of your network - will significantly help you to prove the value of your Public Affairs department.