„Highlighting the real picture “– International Public Affairs Experts on the PANTARHEI White Paper – The Future of Lobbying.
Have you recently wondered how you can make yourself heard in an environment that is characterised by increasing volume, emotional intensification, and the fierce struggle for attention? While the regional weekly market is hardly imaginable without the guild of market criers, not a few, especially with a view to the digital marketplace of political decision-making, increasingly have the feeling that “only those who shout the loudest are heard”.
Especially in a time that is significantly shaped by societal and economic transformation processes, there is a strong need in many spheres to actively participate in shaping these upheavals. This raises the question of how professional public affairs experts find their way around the new playing field of public policy lobbying. What specific challenges arise from this development and to what extent does this change the professional requirement profile for public affairs professionals?
Gilbert Rukschcio, Mansur Philipp Gharabaghi and Darius Pidun from Pantarhei Advisors discussed these questions with renowned experts and public affairs professionals at European level in an interactive, digital workshop. Veronika Möller (Head of EU Representation of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce), Peter Schmitt (Head of EU Office of Henkel AG), Bettina Resl (Head of Communication at Sanofi Austria) and Adrianna Pawlowska (Senior Project Manager at RHI Magnesita) shared their assessment and expertise from many years of experience in politics and public affairs.
The following findings have been worked out together with the experts based on the PANTARHEI white paper.
1. Communicative competence – An add-on becomes part of the basic kit
As part of the “old public affairs logic” professional competence, a confident external appearance and a reputation characterised by credibility are the most important basic chord of effective representation of interests. This triad will not lose its importance in the future either, but the keyboard to be played on has expanded significantly. A look at the current political sphere is enough to realise that in today’s public media, professionalised communication work has changed from an expensive add-on to an integral core part of everyday work practice. Typical of this is the now common occupation of a typical ministerial cabinet, half of which now consists of communication experts. At the public affairs level, too, one knows about the increasing importance of tailor-made communication of one’s own messages and the corresponding need for paying attention to detailed aspects of significance such as graphic design, chosen imagery or the reduction in complexity.
There was a broad consensus among the participants that the precise use of channels that are relevant to the organisation in question require a significant build-up of professional know-how.
2. The industry as the heartbeat of our prosperity
With the new primacy of ecology and the resulting climate protection ambitions of the EU, the industry has become the focus of the strongly increasing zeal for political regulation. The desired green economy and the associated transition of the European economy mean that the industry has increasingly gone into defence mode. Unsurprisingly, according to broad agreement among the experts, current public affairs campaigns are primarily characterised by adherence to compliance rules and prevention of attacks.
NGOs such as Friday for Future are getting through to politics in an exemplary manner due to their considerable campaigning ability and thus setting the tone in the new arena of political decision-making. Characteristic for this are not only increased CO2 reduction targets or the “green” KPI as main assessment criteria of national recovery plans, but rather the fundamental rise of climate protection as the all-dominant core topic of the public debate. Against this background alone, it can be an insightful change of perspective to ask yourself “What can the industry learn from environmental activist campaigns?” or, more pointedly, “How would the industry have to campaign in order to be heard like an NGO?”
With a view to this question, the panellists pointed out the need to sketch a “real picture of the industry”, which uses emotionalisation and a clear narrative to illustrate the importance of industry for our everyday life and the prosperity of our society.
3. The flood of information requires new data management and software solutions
Statistically speaking, within a minute on the internet, around 100,000 tweets are sent on Twitter, 70 million messages and emails are sent via WhatsApp – and this trend is sharply rising. Especially the professional world of public affairs specialists, in which the processing of new developments and messages into messages to their own circle of recipients is an integral part of the agenda, is exposed to this information tsunami.
Staying up to date, analysing information analytically and underscoring its relevance to the respective recipient is becoming a steadily growing challenge, according to our experts. In order to keep pace with the storm surge of information, which will continue to rapidly increase in speed in the future, supporting analysis tools and evaluation software are indispensable.
It becomes clear that the modern, increasingly data-driven process control in public affairs organisations, both in processing and in the course of tailor-made preparation for recipients, requires a fundamental internal professionalisation boost, which also takes into account the technical equipment for the future of modern interest representation.
How do you perceive these developments? Write to us at [email protected]. We look forward to further exchanges with you on the subject of digital public affairs.