Each day, political decisions made at local, regional and European level affect us all. Laws, regulations and policies, and decisions about procurement, grants and aid, shape the context within which organisations and individuals operate.
For the system to function effectively there needs to be a constant information flow. Organisations outside government have a right to know about what is going on within the political system; and government decisions are better if they are informed by the views of those affected.
Most organisations recognise the importance of ensuring that they have good relations with, and a close understanding of, Parliament and Government. They may choose to employ their own, in house, public affairs staff (often as part of a communications function, and sometimes referred to as government relations or regulatory affairs).
However, many organisations acknowledge the need to engage specialist political consultants and public affairs advisers, focussing wholly on government and the political system, to add value to their political communications. APPC members offer that experience and expertise.
Political consultants typically provide services including:
Monitoring: providing analysis of activities in Parliament and Whitehall, in the political parties, local government, public bodies, pressure groups, think tanks and EU institutions, including debates, questions, committee inquiries, statements, reports, legislation and regulation
General public affairs and programme support: assistance with political research, with drafting written submissions to Government consultations and select committee inquiries, with the administration of programmes of meetings with target audiences and so on.
Profile raising: supporting organisations wanting to be better known and understood by political stakeholders as they engage with government, Parliament and other key influencers
Lobbying: helping organisations wanting policy, legislative or regulatory change to understand who the key decision makers are, when to approach them, and how best to make their case
Strategic communications advice: full campaigns in the political arenas to achieve particular objectives, often within a framework of wider internal communications and public relations work
Public relations: providing media management and other supporting publicity activity to underpin wider lobbying campaigns
Audit: testing the perceptions held of organisations by political and other stakeholders, and auditing the effectiveness of previous political engagement
Some professional politcal consultancies do almost no 'lobbying'; some are happy to describe themselves as lobbyists.
We all strongly believe, however, that the activities of public affairs professionals, including lobbyists, properly regulated by the APPC and adhering to the code of conduct, underpin and aid democracy. The flow of information from our clients, including charities and public sector bodies as well as private companies, to decision makers helps ensure that policies are scrutinised and the debate is properly informed.