Editorial: Lobbyists turn to the local experts

The public affairs industry is speeding up the pace of preparations for the new assemblies in Northern Ireland and Wales and the Parliament in Scotland. The major Westminster lobbying outfits have been opening offices in Cardiff and Belfast - most are already active in Edinburgh - to ensure that they are ready to pick up any business generated by these new power centres.

The public affairs industry is speeding up the pace of preparations

for the new assemblies in Northern Ireland and Wales and the Parliament

in Scotland. The major Westminster lobbying outfits have been opening

offices in Cardiff and Belfast - most are already active in Edinburgh -

to ensure that they are ready to pick up any business generated by these

new power centres.



Citigate’s Northern Ireland business, Burnside-Citigate, launched a

public affairs arm, and in Wales GJW has teamed up with a Welsh

political consultant, Mari Jones, to open an office in Cardiff. The

preparations seem to have been made sensitively. The agencies have not

imported people from Westminster.



Rather, firms like GJW and Shandwick, which has joined forces with

Cardiff-based political and media relations consultant David Chapman,

have put local operators at the head of their new offices.



As well as employing public affairs agencies to help them establish a

relationship with the new assemblies, English businesses would do well

to follow the Boots group’s lead. Jane Scott, who heads GJW’s Scottish

operation, will join Boots as its first corporate affairs head in

Scotland in April.



Bringing local expertise in-house, rather than simply hiring an agency

as and when particular issues arise, signals a genuine commitment to

working with the new assemblies.



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