Posts tagged ‘communications’

To Twitter or not to Twitter: use of digital tools in public affairs

Last week saw Fleishman-Hillard host a panel debate on the use of digital tools in public affairs and politics at the European Public Affairs Action Day. The videos of the contribution of our three speakers (Alexander Alvaro MEP, Pat Cleary of FH DC and Mark Redgrove of Orgalime) are now available on our YouTube channel here.

Here is the contribution of Alexander Alvaro MEP in two parts. The Q&A session of the panel discussion will be uploaded in coming days.


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December 9, 2009 at 11:53 am 3 comments

What is Public Affairs? Some thoughts from a global perspective

English: Illuminatable Earth globe, Columbus, ...

Image via Wikipedia

This last week saw our latest Global Public Affairs Leadership meeting here in Brussels. In attendance were public affairs practitioners from global centres like Beijing and DC, major European capitals such as London, Berlin and Paris and a host of other places from Latin America to Canada. It just goes to show that wherever you are,  the public policy agenda is likely to have an impact on your business.

It was great to participate in some informed debate on hot issues; the regulation of financial service markets, energy security and climate change and consumer product safety amongst them. It would appear that increasingly issues are global and markets interconnected, even if the issues play out locally.

Much the same observation can be said for public affairs itself. While the objective may be the same the world over, the tactics used may change depending on the market, the regulation in place (in terms of direct contact between stakeholders and government) and the issue and its lifecycle.  The discussions led me to the observation that it was worth putting down somewhere my own understanding of some of the terms discussed – from communications to public affairs and finally government relations.

I’ve tried to do so in the attached file below.

Public affairs and government relations diagram

I’d be interested in people’s reaction especially in Brussels where the terms government relations and public affairs tend to be used interchangeably. At the same time communications tends to be looked down upon by those who only do the strict lobbying piece, as if decision-makers are only informed by views expressed in one-on-one meetings. Our recent digital MEP survey suggest otherwise.

One final thought. Our session on this subject matter appeared to me to suggest that the conditioning of the environment in which decisions are taken (i.e. the public affairs as opposed to government relations piece) is increasingly important for actors irrespective of the market they are in. It is in this context of course that digital tools fit in…


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June 28, 2009 at 4:13 pm Leave a comment

Event: Harnessing digital for your Brussels trade association

Pat Cleary, speaker at Brussels trade association event

After trailing this in several recent posts, it’s our pleasure to announce the “Beltway Blogfather” is here in Brussels at the beginning of May. As we’ve been harping on about the use of digital by Brussels based trade associations, Pat Cleary (pictured), our SVP Digital Public Affairs in D.C., will be appearing for one lunchtime only at our FH offices on 5th May to share his experiences.

Anyone who works for a Brussels trade association is welcome to attend (and to do so for free). Further information about the event and how to register can be found here.

Another event that is bigger, brasher and with canapes/champagne is in the pipeline for June to present some (hopefully) interesting research that FH has been subjecting helpful consumer/citizens to on how the internet changes the way they take decisions on political issues and candidates. Details in due course. All interested parties will be welcome.

April 8, 2008 at 11:49 am 1 comment

Seeing the plastics wood for the trees – PlasticsEurope gets it right

An interesting interview with the Executive Director of PlasticsEurope, Wilfried Hansel, over at Euractiv on changes to advocacy and communications in Brussels. It’s great to see an organisation as important as PlasticsEurope taking the approach advocated in many of our posts. All Brussels based trade associations should have a read of what can be considered a best practice approach.

However, one point in relation to the comments on “position papers”. It’s always been our philosophy that the very notion of calling your principal advocacy document a”position paper” is a bit misleading. The document should be less about the position of your organisation and more about talking about the nexus between the interests of those you are seeking to convince and what you wish to achieve. Good advocacy is about hitting this sweet spot. As such, the PlasticsEurope approach is not new, it’s just well thought out best practice. Not many policymakers care about the obscure issues you want to talk about, but they do tend to care about all sorts of other things. It’s those things that your “position paper” should talk about. (In this vein, see our recent post mentioning advocacy’s three Ps)

However, the move towards informing the citizen in an effort to eventually create the conditions for successful advocacy is an interesting new one in a Brussels context (if not in a US or national one). We wish them luck, it certainly is an approach that may have come of age when policymakers worry about being connected to the citizen and the digital world brings that citizen closer to the decision-maker in Brussels than ever.

BTW – if you like the PlasticsEurope approach, you should give them a ring. We hear they are looking for a new advocacy and communications director. An interesting post indeed given the above.

March 30, 2008 at 5:01 pm 1 comment

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A blog on politics, policy, public affairs and communications in Brussels and the European Union. The blog is written by the team at Fleishman-Hillard in Brussels. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect those of the company or its clients. You will find the contact details of our team at

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