What is a Public Affairs Consultant?

Public Affairs ConsultantKnown technically as a public affairs consultant, professionals in this role are more commonly referred to in the media as lobbyists. It’s important to understand, however, that lobbyists are not strictly concerned with exploiting the political system and pushing only their viewpoints or their employer’s viewpoints. In fact, working as a public affairs consultant comes with a long list of daily responsibilities that requires its staff to be fluent in government structure, daily affairs, world political developments, and much more. A public affairs consultant is a key part of the political system.

Research and Issue Proficiency are Big Parts of the Job

Public affairs consultants are highly educated not only in government affairs the inner workings of the lawmaking system, but also in issues that they care deeply about and wish to bring to light during legislative sessions. For this reason, consultants are required to stay updated on the latest news and developments politically, nationally, and around the world, and often pay careful attention to issues related to their lobbying cause. This might include taking note of any developments related to green energy or solar panels, or it might mean staying on top of news relating to certain business interests, civil rights battles, or technological developments.

The Talk: Public Affairs Consultants Persuade and Inform Others

With a thorough understanding of their cause and special attention paid to news concerning that cause, public affairs consultants are armed with the information they need to persuade lawmakers or the public to support their issue over the competing options. For example, lobbyists would be able to cite favorable statistics related to the adoption of solar panels and other eco-friendly technologies with ease. They would use this information to push for more laws that favor solar panels and incentivize their use, an they would create public information campaigns calling on consumers to push for these same reforms. This process could be applied to virtually any issue, however.

Rapid Response to Policy and PR Threats or Opportunities

Public opinion can change almost overnight, depending on the stories dominating a given news cycle. Public affairs consultants, who often work for big agencies or private employers, have a vested interest in making sure that their causes don’t suffer due to a particularly challenging news cycle. If bad news breaks, they’ll be on the front lines trying to discredit the news, push their own data, and restore public confidence. They’ll often do the same thing among legislators, so that their cause doesn’t suffer from any bad press. In lawmaking, even one bad news cycle can kill an important bill, tax program, or reform idea, and that can mean bad news for public affairs professionals. They may have to spend months or even years repairing this damage if a response is not executed quickly.

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A Crucial Role in the Legislative System

Lobbying might have negative connotations to the average consumer, but it’s an absolutely essential way of educating, informing, and persuading lawmakers, that has been around for centuries. Today’s consultants are held to a very high ethical standard and, thanks to government reforms, work with legislators who are under increasingly tough scrutiny, according to US News and World Report. As a result, the public affairs consultant position is one that is both growing and increasingly well-understood by the public as a necessary part of any large, sprawling government at the state or federal level.