Public affairs consultants (a.k.a. lobbyists) are responsible for providing their clients with valuable insights into the political environment, and advice relating to public affairs and governmental policy.
Public affairs consultants are employed by both private and public sector organisations. They may also represent NGOs (non-governmental organisations), think tanks and government administrations from other countries, as well as international bodies such as the UN and the European Commission.
If you enter this profession, you’ll be monitoring and tracking information from public and private sources with regards to governmental, industrial, economic, social and other policy-related issues. You’ll then be consolidating this information into reports for your client, informing them about any developments, and offering advice and guidance on potential courses of action.
From time to time, you may also be undertaking opinion polls and other research activities, in order to gauge public opinion about certain political and administrative developments. Furthermore, you’ll be responsible for establishing relationships with relevant organisations and facilitating meetings between their representatives and your client.
Salary & benefits
Salaries for new public affairs consultants range between £16,000 and £25,000.
More senior professionals, who manage various accounts, can earn around £25,000 to £35,000.
Experienced public affairs consultants (at senior manager or director levels) can even up to £100,000 a year.
Work schedules are mainly driven by client requirements, as well as the operating schedules of the parliamentary, political and governmental bodies where you will be doing most of your lobbying. Weekend work is quite rare and there are also seasonal lulls, when certain authorities are not in session. Travel is quite frequent for public affairs consultants who cover a wide geographical area.
A good undergraduate degree in any discipline is acceptable for entry into this profession, though an academic background in politics, political sciences, law, international studies, modern languages or a similar subject may give you an edge over other candidates. You could even do an MA in politics to really boost your chances!
Understandably, it’s also vital for you have gain work experience in the political arena before applying, either through volunteering with an NGO, working for an MP or getting heavily involved with NUS or another political organisation while you’re at university.
Training & progression
Public affairs consultants employed by large, multinational consultancies may complete structured learning and development programmes, while others develop their skills by simply gaining hands-on experience.
Career progression is mainly dependent on the existing organisational hierarchy. However, public affairs consultants that perform particularly well may eventually advance into account management positions.
Others may end up taking on positions within political or governmental organisations as internal policy advisers to major decision makers in the public sector.