Why is there no professional co-operation?

The more I see of the Brussels Public Affairs landscape the more baffled I get. And before I go on – I do not in anyway criticise the people. On the contrary, it was a long time since I worked with so many so talented and intelligent people. It is the system in which we exist I query.

I reiterate my question asked in earlier blog post – why is there seemingly no co-operation between Public Affairs and corporate communications? And why are organisations so afraid of hiring people with that dual experience? It’s either one or the other, a binary approach to say the least. East is east and west is west and never shall the two meet…

It reminds me how corporate communications have developed the past 25 years, in the 80s only former journalists where hired to the PR/corporate communications functions. And while writing is an inherent part of the job, it is by no means certain that just because you can write a catchy news piece you are a good communicator or that you can develop a sustainable communications strategy.

Today we have the same situation with Public Affairs, hire former politicians – and while that might be a good idea, there is nothing to say that just because you have been elected to an office that you can frame an issue that will influence a decision making group. Having a a few “Good Harry’s to call” will only get you so far. And, while I am certain the politicians in question are good persons, remember s/he didn’t get re-elected.

While much of the political game is being played in Brussels (or Washington by all means) many politicians also have a secondary agenda and that is to be re-elected. And where are you re-elected? At home, in your home constituency, and whom in your organisation are working at that level? Yes, exactly – corporate communications.

So remind me – why isn’t Public Affairs and Corporate communications working (more) together?

3 responses to “Why is there no professional co-operation?

  1. Sara, public affairs is a broad field. With regard to ”regulatory affairs” the people involved are often technical experts, and it may not occur to them that it’s also a communications issue. On the other hand, how many corporate communicators are seizing the opportunity to show their strategic value by proposal support to these regulatory affairs managers?


    • Yes, Kristen wise words as always. But corporate communications is an equally broad field. And I don’t point fingers, ”both sides” are equally guilty in this. The thing is I see so much ”fear” in the PA community when you speak about doing a traditional communications effort in relation to a legislative proposal. I am not saying political communication is easy, but I do say that working together is better than not.

      And yes, we communicators need to get better in marketing ourselves.


  2. polticssplerge

    Hello there, i agree with you in parts about the way PA and Comms team operate with each other. It seems a bit ‘ironic’ that both are there to build reputation by engaging with people and create relationships. I find it very strange that Journalists are the ‘preferred’ candidate for ‘Public Relation’ role.
    I think there is a clear difference between ‘comms’ and Public Relations in that, PRO’s focus on ‘actions’ and as well as the ‘communication’ aspect of an organisation. So it would seem sensible to recruit a PR person from a business background and creative background. And not only journalists? It seems to the industry has lost the creative edge that it once had over advertising by only focusing on the comms aspect of any PR campaign.

    Rather, I view PR as being much more strategic in approach and should work in developing long term relationships for organisations to create a two way channel. And this can be acheived through measures that not only focuses on comms. I also believe the same applies to Public Affairs, rather than broadcasting information all the industries should focus on engaging the audience.



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