Public affairs managers work to advance the interests of their employers with decision-making bodies such as the UK government and Parliament, the EU, industry regulators, local government and non-departmental public bodies.
They also seek to ensure a positive perception of their organisation with other ‘stakeholders’ such as the media and non-governmental organisations. Public affairs managers monitor the effect of public policy changes on their organisation and advise senior staff. They can work for companies, trade associations, think-tanks, trade unions or charities.
Public affairs managers will typically:
- Establish regular contact with politicians, political advisers, civil servants, non-departmental public bodies or regulators to keep them informed about the organisation’s work and policy concerns Organise or attend regular meetings with these stakeholders, representing their organisation and forging contacts with key decision-makers
- Report back to colleagues on the content of such meetings and arrange follow-up submissions
- Monitor proceedings of the UK Parliament and European institutions and provide analysis of these for senior staff members
- Provide internal forecasts of the likely effect of public policy changes on their organisation
- Write or edit submissions to government, EU or regulator consultations
- Provide written or oral briefings for senior staff members and advise them on contact with decision-makers
- Draft press releases and build relationships with media contacts
- Keep abreast of important media stories on a daily basis
- If necessary line manage a team of public relations officers
- Proof-read and, if necessary, rewrite media statements
- Excellent writing and speaking skills: Public affairs managers have to write briefings, press releases and consultation responses, as well as give presentations internally and externally
- Great networking skills: More than for most jobs, networking skills are integral to the role. Public affairs managers need to possess or hone the ability to confidently approach a diverse range of people and strike up a conversation. This needs to be allied to the ability to stay in touch with decision-makers and retain contacts
- People management skills: Often, public affairs managers need to manage a team of public affairs officers
- Information gathering and interpreting: The ability to take on board and understand reams of new information is a key skill that is required of a public affairs manager. They have to keep abreast of ever-changing political developments and advise senior staff of the implications for the organisation
- Political knowledge: An intimate knowledge of the political process in the UK and Europe is crucial
A first degree is expected. The most appropriate subjects are politics or law. A career qualification, a diploma in public affairs, is offered by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.
A civil service background is common for public affairs managers. Some work up from the role of public affairs officer. If switching into public affairs, a track record of project management is helpful.
£35,000 - £60,000 per annum.
Regular office hours of 9:00am-5.30pm apply but attending evening functions is an intrinsic part of the job. Travelling and nights away are often par for the course as well.
Career opportunitiesYour next careers steps could be:
- Senior public affairs manager
- Public affairs consultant
- Communications manager
- Director of policy
A public affairs professional’s perspective
“Working in public affairs is a fantastic job. It's working in real time with real issues that affect everyone. Dealing with politicians and elected representatives from across the political spectrum in the UK and Europe, linking into think tanks and party headquarters. It's never dull!”
- Lisa Hayley-Jones, director in the public affairs team at KPMG UK