Public affairs is a discipline concerned with building and maintaining relationships between organisations and stakeholders. These include governments, political parties, civil society organisations and the media. The purpose of a public affairs agency is to help promote an organisation’s interests and influence the policies and decision-making of one or more stakeholders.
The importance of a proactive and systematic public affairs and lobbying approach
Decisions by politicians and officials can have an impact on a company’s operations, the reputation of its director or the ambitions of an association. That is why you want to contribute to the development of policy. You do this with a proactive and systematic public affairs and lobbying approach. Investing in public affairs is instrumental in achieving your policy objectives, and is therefore in the interest of your company, sector association, NGO or government organisation. The interconnectedness between governmental levels is stronger than ever, which is why it is important to know where you need to be in The Hague, Brussels, the municipality or province. Or even to be active at several levels of government at the same time.
Public affairs and lobbying are part of overall business operations
Investing in public affairs and managing (government) relations has become a permanent feature of an organisation’s overall operations in the Netherlands. Administrators, companies and social organisations and NGOs are more intrinsically motivated than ever to manage their relationships with politicians and stakeholders.
When lobbying for political interests, the law of economics apply: an organisation will always aim to secure a stronger position than its competitors. This means that interest groups also compete with one another for influence or the attention of policymakers. Not only companies, but also civil-society organisations invest in public affairs and their profile in The Hague and/or Brussels. Over the past decade there has been a strong and visible trend towards government agencies in the Netherlands employing their own lobbyists. Many municipalities and provinces are thus becoming proficient at influencing their fellow authorities in a targeted and systematic manner.
Reducing the distance between policymakers and the business community
Lobbying and public affairs in the Netherlands has become increasingly professionalised in recent years. If you want to make policymakers sit up and take notice, it’s not enough to have a distinctive message. You need to manage stakeholder relations according to a number of general principles: say what you’re doing, share, be transparent and be accountable. By investing specifically in political responsibility, your organisation will be able to achieve this. These efforts bring policymakers and companies closer together, which encourages a better understanding of each others’ interests, improves trust and increases support for policy.
We work for organisations and above all with people
For over twenty years Public Matters has sought to contribute to the public affairs profession and to a sustainable relationship between the government, the business community, sector organisations and NGOs. In our consultancy practice we work for organisations and above all with people; from entrepreneurs to managers, from public affairs managers to policy makers, and many others. They are central to our work. With over thirty public affairs consultants with different backgrounds, we offer the strength and expertise to support organisations in overcoming the distance between policymakers and stakeholders.