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How Does Public Affairs Affect the Public?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016 | 12:00 AM

The role of public affairs can have a great influence on the daily lives of individuals, corporations and other groups within the public. An individual working in public affairs has the opportunity to interact with a number of entities on a regular basis in ways that can change legislation and regulations. This type of public affairs work can be quite fulfilling and meaningful. The coursework and experience gained from a Master of Public Affairs degree program provide excellent preparation to further your career in public affairs.

What is public affairs?

The term "public affairs" generally describes an organization or corporation's relationship with its stakeholders or with the public at large. The specific people or groups an organization might need to relate with can vary greatly. These groups may include politicians, civil servants, customers of a certain brand or product, trade associations, not-for-profit organizations, unions or the media.

Some aspects of public affairs work go on outside the public eye. A public affairs department or representative spends much time learning multiple facets of a topic or policy and interacting with key figures in corporations or government departments behind the scenes. At other times, the role of public affairs officials is much more visible. A public affairs department might be responsible for press releases, media relations or crisis communications to inform the public of vital information in an effort to influence public opinion or work on behalf of the public interest.

Lobbyists and their role in public affairs

One specific type of public affairs professional is a lobbyist. A lobbyist can have a tremendous impact on public policy. Their job is to interact with lawmakers at the federal and state level on behalf of a group to influence legislation. A lobbyist spends a significant amount of time with legislators, explaining his or her client's interest and position and helping them understand the ramifications of proposed legislation. A lobbyist also reviews bills to identify ones that are relevant to his or her clients and tracks legislation as it goes through the legislative process. Lastly, a lobbyist can help clients secure grants or other funding.

All manner of public affairs advocates, including lobbyists, can achieve great success in influencing legislation and regulations at state and federal levels of government. At other times, a public affairs department can seek to shape policies around public interest, or it can educate the public on current events or upcoming changes. The critical role of public affairs in the inner workings of government, corporations and other entities provides a number of challenges and opportunities for individuals who want to advance in the field.

Learn about University of Texas Rio Grande Valley online MPA program.


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