Why every business needs a public affairs strategy

Carys Davis Written by
Carys Davis

It’s been a turbulent couple of years in the political landscape. So it’s no surprise that more and more clients – from start-ups to well-established companies – are asking how some of the key events and trends in Westminster might impact their businesses.

When you’re getting off the ground, PR and marketing will be the priority. But Upmarketry can also help you navigate what’s happening politically. This means monitoring risks and opportunities which could help or hinder your business plan.

Managing political risk

A common mistake made by companies large and small is to ignore political stakeholders, or mishandle a political situation.

The initial coverage of Sports Direct’s mistreatment of its workers was damaging enough. But an inquiry by two influential Parliamentary Select Committees kept the story – and owner Mike Ashley’s headache – in the news for months.

At the end of the day, Parliamentarians exist to represent their constituents, who are also business consumers. If they feel the public has been wronged, they’ll use their power to shine a light on not only Government departments, but household name companies and personalities.

Amazon, Google, Philip Green, Russell Brand and Hugh Grant have all appeared to give evidence at Select Committees in recent years. This guaranteed, for the most part, damaging headlines. However, that doesn’t mean start-ups and new businesses are off the radar. Select Committees, for example, are supported by a bunch of (usually young) clerks and researchers who will uncover the most interesting witnesses they can find to shed light on a topic of interest.

Exploiting political opportunity

On the other end of the scale, many organisations will not only look to minimise political risk but will seek to influence what’s happening in the Westminster world.

Many clients have a specific lobbying goal. A policy change they hope to achieve which might make business growth easier. For example, new legislation to curb late payments made to small businesses, a notorious problem when it comes to managing cash flow.

Other clients aren’t there yet in terms of developing their thinking. They are however keen to improve their reputation and engage the ear of policy-makers, perhaps with a view to influencing later on. Upmarketry can help you build a public affairs strategy to meet either – or both – objectives.

Hand in hand

Considering public affairs alongside all the other ‘must-dos’ of a new business might seem overwhelming! But it makes perfect sense to build in public affairs alongside your marketing plan. You might find that a change in Government policy or legislation is what you need to get your business where you want it to be.  But even if this is not the case, protecting your reputation as you scale up will be vital, with Parliamentarians in a unique position to reach the public.

Let us know if you’d like to talk public affairs or simply to receive a weekly, fortnightly or monthly political update relevant to your world.

An Upmarketry network partner, Carys is the owner/director of The Other Place Public Affairs Ltdproviding strategic political counsel and training to clients across sectors.