Digital across three types of public affairs activity

November 15, 2017

Below is a slide I developed for a recent presentation to a lovely collection of my countrymen.

It summaries viable digital tactics across three ‘types’ of public affairs activity:

  1. Technical i.e. classic government relations on a legislative dossier on which experts on every side are wrangling over the details of key texts
  2. Reputation building amongst policy-makers i.e. when an interest group is seeking to build a relationship with policy-makers beyond the technical wrangling through positioning/differentiation
  3. External environment shaping i.e. what Americans often call grassroots – the attempt to influence publics in order to indirectly influence policy

As ever, kind thoughts or even brutal take-downs would be appreciated.

Digital Public Affairs

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2 Responses to “Digital across three types of public affairs activity”

  1. Stefan Says:

    I like the overview in general, but disagree profoundly on the „external environment shaping“ section. While Data Mining etc may be useful, social media and the influence over social media plays a pivotal role in getting people to buy into a cause. Brexit, Trump, TTIP are only some of the examples how these tools swayed whole nations. So while social media also plays a certain role for issue stakeholders, it belongs in the environment section of your chart.

    • Steffen Says:

      Hi Stefan – copying my comment from LinkedIn: None of the tactics are exclusive to any of the segments – social media can definitely be used in environment shaping. But the reason I listed social media as KEY to reputation building and not external environment shaping (although it might seem counterintuitive!) is this: when building reputation within policy circles, you’re dealing with stakeholders on social media active on the same issues as you, and can have a civil exchange and drive influence and action; when shaping the ‘environment’ at large, you have to deal with the echo chamber effect, information overload and trolls – and using social media to drive influence or action is bloody difficult! That’s not to say it should be ignored: it’s a rich source of data about opponents as well as supporters, and should always be part of the mix in terms of information provision and dialogue – but I’d argue that if you’re in corporate PA and want to influence your environment, social media is often not the most effective channel.


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