Public Affairs: Soap Box - Ben Goddard, partner, Goddard Partners Global

In the UK and across much of the world, citizens are demanding a greater say in decisions that affect their lives.

Governments see advantages in giving some hard choices back to the people. More issues will be settled by referenda and elected governments will be increasingly influenced by their restless constituents.

This evolving trend requires a more direct form of issue advocacy. Businesses, associations or interest groups that build a base of support in the community will prevail. Advocates for or against a cause must understand that everyone always votes in their own self-interest. Success requires aligning the self-interest of the advocate with that of the citizen. That is done with messaging, and messaging begins with good research - you have to start where people are to get them where you want them to go. The messenger is as important as the message - and the best messengers are those affected by a decision. That means time-consuming efforts to build a broad-based coalition that will speak and act for you.

All of which is harder than retaining a lobbyist to talk quietly to a few elected officials. This is what the Big Society really means to brands and politicians.

Goddard Partners Global has announced that it will open a UK office.

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