I am sure some of you are wondering what exactly a public affairs public relations professional does. As a public relations associate at Lansing-based bi-partisan agency Lambert, Edwards & Associates (LE&A), I hope to give you a glimpse of what life is like inside the public affairs world.
Generally speaking, “public affairs” means working with issues that affect the public. Day to day, I am involved in a variety of communications and media relations projects that engage and support a client’s position or political issue. In order to be successful, you need a balance of standard public relations skills combined with the sensibility of politics, government, campaign experience, event planning, social networking and advocacy work.
Here are a few of the highlights of my job within the realm of public affairs:
Our location in the state’s Capitol provides a variety of opportunities for both the agency and our clients. Associates have the unique opportunity to build relationships with policy makers, lobbyists and state agencies. Public affairs tasks can range from grassroots advocacy to creating messaging designed to build legislative support for clients. Associates must keep pace with current political issues and learn bills inside and out in order to be successful practitioners in the Capitol City.
As part of a bi-partisan agency, practitioners at LE&A enjoy a view from both sides of the political aisle. We work with lobbying firms on a number of initiatives, consult with developers on planning issues and help build grassroots support at the door-to-door level. Working at an agency, it’s important to take a bi-partisan approach to client work — we rarely involve ourselves formally in partisan political campaigns.
LE&A is not just a public affairs agency. It consists of five different practice groups; financial communications, consumer, automotive, health care and public affairs. I am lucky to work at an agency that strongly supports professional development and career enhancement. I am personally involved in internship recruitment, professional development workshops and networking activities within the agency.
One of the main aspects of my job is outreach. This entails anything from implementing a social media plan and producing a newsletter, to crafting community relations materials and press releases. Additional duties include daily media pitching, research and collecting media clips.
Public affairs is a unique niche within the vast world of public relations. My most fulfilling days are when I see my efforts on behalf of a client truly pay off. Whether it’s a bill being signed into law or the rescue of an organization due to increased community support, it’s rewarding to know that my work as a public affairs professional plays a part in making Michigan a better place.
Have you had a public affairs internship? What job activities do you think are important to master before entering the public relations field?
Devon Bradley works for Lambert, Edwards & Associates in Lansing, Michigan. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and is a member of the PRSA New Professionals Section and Central Michigan Chapter of PRSA.