On the beat: public affairs

It's a tumultuous time in DC, as Barack Obama's election means some 8,000 politically appointed jobs open up that had been filled by Republicans - and several hundred of those are principally in communications.

It's a tumultuous time in DC, as Barack Obama's election means some 8,000 politically appointed jobs open up that had been filled by Republicans – and several hundred of those are principally in communications. Some ex-Bush White House appointees will be going into public affairs and PR firms in DC; others will be leaving town permanently.

During the election, trade groups, nonprofits, and other advocacy organizations had some difficulty being heard. Now, with a new administration and Congress soon to swing into action, these groups are plotting how to get their concerns heard and acted upon by the new government.

The old ways of lobbying on the Hill had already been evolving into more of a grass-roots-centered approach. Perhaps that evolution will quicken with the Obama administration, which had pledged to seek input from the public about public policy through all of the various online media channels the Obama camp used so well during his campaign.

Regardless of what happens, all eyes will be on Washington for some time. The joke about the DC offices of multinational PR firms is often that staffers there believe they are more important than other offices. For a little while to come, though, that may be true.

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