At Targeted Persuasion, we get this question all the time. The truth is, it depends.
What are you trying to accomplish? What’s the difference in a public affairs firm and a public relations firm? Aren’t they the same? Not really.
A public affairs firm focuses more on the political sphere. Its primary aim is to build and develop relations between an organization and politicians or governments. Public engagement and policy advocacy are well within a PA firm’s wheelhouse, as shaping public opinion around policy is a specialty.
Public affairs firms also perform some of the same functions as a public relations firm, especially when seeking publicity for organizations and responding to media issues and inquiries.
Public relations firms perform much broader functions, while public affairs can certainly be a component, the larger aim of PR firms is to manage the spread of information of and about an organization to the public.
If you are trying to shape public opinion around a policy, then I encourage you to seek out a public affairs firm. Here are 3 main points about public affairs firms for you to consider.
1. Public Affairs Firms Understand the Political Landscape.
Politics is a public affairs firm’s specialty. They have a background and previous experience working with local politicians in their city and state. This intensive background translates to a deep understanding of the political landscape in the area.
Public affairs firms are comfortable using polling to shape messaging and determine strategy. They can take your issue and know exactly what to do with it – who to go to, where to air the concern, and how to go about informing the public.
Remember, one tweet can sink your battleship before it even leaves port, so leave the messaging up to an experienced captain. Protect your message and put it into the capable hands of a public affairs firm.
2. Public Affairs Firms are Comfortable Working with Lobbyists and Elected Officials.
A public affairs firm has relationships with lobbyists and elected officials already built out. This means that you can use their networks to advance your cause, rather than trying to build those contacts from scratch yourself. This will leave you ample time to work on the meat of your project, rather than worrying about setting up meetings with officials.
3. Public Affairs Firms Know How to Craft Messaging to get the Public to Take Action.
Public affairs firms have a toolbox filled with ways to get the word out to the public about your issue. They have tried and tested petitions, town halls, and action alerts, each of which engages the public in a different way. Depending on your needs, the firm will craft messaging to get the public on board with your issue, leading to a successful campaign and the results you wanted.
Public affairs firms and public relations firms may seem indistinguishable at first glance, but the differences become clear. If you’re trying to get the word out about a campaign relating to policy, a public affairs firm is the clear winner. They understand the political landscape, they are specialized in outreach to local lobbyists and politicians, and they know how to craft attention-grabbing messaging. Use a public affairs firm to advance your campaign and you won’t be sorry!