A Career in Public Affairs

Contrary to popular belief, there is more to a career in public affairs than being a lobbyist. Working in Public Affairs includes media relations, campaign management and policy advice.

What does a Public Affairs consultant do?

Public affairs consultants identify key stakeholders in the decision-making process at European, national, regional and local government levels. They work to maintain relationships with these individuals and to assist clients to promote and protect their interests effectively.

Keeping abreast of political developments, in order to advise clients on a possible response, is vital to the role. Key information is sought from personal contacts, a range of media sources and political intelligence and monitoring.

Where do you work?

Public affairs consultants  can work either 'in house' for a company, as an advisor for a political consultancy working with a number of clients, for a trade association or union, a political or issues based organisation or for a government agency.

From the BBC's Question Time to Newsnight; BBC Radio 4's Any Questions to the early morning Today Programme; and national broadsheets, to excel in public affairs you'll need to stay across the political and news agenda every day

Typical career paths 

A typical career path would be from account executive to account manager, heading up a small team within the consultancy and being responsible for a group of clients. 

From here, you could progress to a senior account manager and account director and then associate director, handling the consultancy's work for a range of clients, providing strategic direction and increasing new business. 

 As public affairs consultancies are generally small, it is common to move between employers to develop your career. Many consultants also move into in-house public affairs departments as public affairs managers or policy advisers. Some may move into full-time political roles, such as working for a political party or as an adviser. 

Why you'll love it

If you're someone who loves all things political this could be an excellent career path on which to tread. Exemplary communication skills and an ability to distill large amounts of complex information into digestible amounts is also crucial.

You'll love the buzz at being the heart of where decisions that affect the running of a country are made and are happy to spend your evenings networking to build up an important contact base. 

You'll be a natural communicator and confident talking to a diverse range of people across multiple sectors. You'll have good writing skills and be able to think on your feet. The ability to be both reactive to situations and proactive to drive and influence are a must have. 

And while you won't necessarily have all of those skills in your already talented armoury just yet, you'll be prepared to learn and practice them. You'll be a hard worker with determination, resilience and ambition.