Public Affairs Tip: Know your outputs from your outcomes.
Do me a favour stay with me. I know it sounds heavy: developing a public affairs strategy but it really isn’t. If it makes you feel any better think of it as a PR plan with lobbying chucked in.
At the big picture, mega-level a public affairs strategy can help your organisation achieve various essential objectives.
10 common public affairs objectives
❶ Ensure a high degree of brand awareness and perception among key influencers.
❷ Influence and drive the public policy agenda.
❸ Deliver effective campaigns and messages.
❹ Increase the effectiveness of your services.
❺ Keep key issues high up the political agenda.
❻ Promote effective partnership working.
❼ Encourage government to legislate.
❽ Keep your organisation ahead of the game.
❾ Draw down additional funding.
❿ Support modernisation (re-brand/restructure).
The three steps to creating a public affairs strategy
❶ Where are you now?
Some helpful questions to steer your thinking.
- How strong is your current profile?
- Do people know who you are, what you do and why?
- How do you know that? (evidence)
- Has your public profile changed over the last couple of years?
- Is it stronger/weaker?
- How do you know that?
- Who are you engaging with at the moment?
- Are there key audiences you’re targeting?
- Who are they and why?
❷ Where do you want to get to?
Some common replies to help guide you.
- Build a community of advocates to raise awareness
- Kick start a new conversation around . . .
- Create more positive media coverage so that . . .
- Extend reach to key decision makers/influencers/opinion-formers which would include . . . .
- Become famous as . . .
- Create business opportunities with . . .
❸ What does success look like?
We’re focusing on measurable outputs and outcomes here.
Outputs are the products, services or facilities that result from your activities.
Outcomes are the benefits and changes that result from your activities.
It’s important to know the difference if a stakeholder like local or central government is a major driver of your organizational income generation strategy. So if we take the idea of building a community of advocates to raise awareness of your brand:
The outputs might be:
- The number of advocates you’ve managed to recruit.
- The number of advocates who are MPs, journalists, councillors etc.
- The number of internal advocates who have been trained in effective messaging.
The outcomes might be:
- A better understanding of . . .
- Improved quality of life for your clients.
- Earlier detection and accurate diagnosis of . . .
If you’re interested in knowing more about public affairs strategy, then why not take a look at two CIPR Excellence Public Affair winners: Guide Dogs Dog Attacks Campaign and Fair Fuel UK Campaign
I hope you’ve found this useful. If you have any thoughts, reflections, ideas on this then please do contact me.