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Public Affairs Insights from the Centre

8 Oct 2014

Corporate Public Affairs and Project Management

Wayne Burns

An oft underestimated capability residing in the corporate public affairs function is project management.

Hardly among the most glamorous of business capabilities, good project management is a common characteristic across almost all of the best practice public affairs teams we have observed over many years.

Project management is most frequently an enterprise-wide capability in large organisations - a kind of uniform dialect that is understood readily. However, it is a capability that many public affairs functions do not nurture actively (the empty seats at the company’s project management training are likely to have been booked by a public affairs practitioner needing to manage an issue, handle a media call or draft speech notes).

Our experience has been that public affairs practitioners are better businesspeople and even better public affairs practitioners when they are good project planners and managers also.

Project planning requires a bit of standing still and thinking, often working with other parts of the business; and project management requires choosing priorities, and tracking activity and resources available to deliver a result. These are good practices for any management team, and especially those operating in the fast-paced and activity-focused socio-political sphere that is public affairs.

Of course project planning is no substitute for strategy, and nor should it be. But we’ve observed that enjoying a good reputation for project management inside the organisation has never done a public affairs team much harm.

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