The globalisation of this industry is seemingly inexorable. Now
public affairs, traditionally the most regionally-focused communications
discipline, is taking on a more international dimension. Where once PA
practitioners could claim a cross-border service with an office in
London and Brussels, the deregulation of key industries is creating
demand for a truly international capability.
Thames Water’s attempts to position itself as a global player, for
example, have outstripped the capability of its previous London-based
public affairs consultancy Political Context.
The global ambitions of operators in deregulated markets offer a
tremendous opportunity for public affairs, but as yet there are few
contenders equipped to cater to their needs. APCO, Thames Water’s new
consultancy, was one of the few consultancies able to offer the required
presence in, not only Westminster and Brussels but also North America,
South America and Asia.
However, if other consultancies in London and Brussels are not to be
left out of the loop, they must quickly acquire the ability to ’think
local and act global’. At the very least they will need to be able to
service the Brussels, Westminster, Washington DC triangle, but with
companies such as Thames Water operating in Malaysia, Thailand,
Australia and China, it won’t be long before they will be called upon to
negotiate unfamiliar corridors of power.