Public Affairs: Soap Box - Mihir Magudia, account manager, Westminster Advisers

Despite the death of New Labour, media management is still an art form in Downing Street.

For example, intelligent leaking by the Government in the run-up to the spending review made it seem less severe than expected.

But this doesn't mean that things aren't going to be tight and the public affairs industry needs to adapt to deal with the new austere landscape.

We need to rethink our work for clients, rethink our presentational style and rethink how much emphasis we place on personal contacts.

For clients, our work is more important than ever. This is a time of restricted spending and no funding plans are safe. It's naive to think that any business will be completely unscathed, but we can ameliorate excessive cuts.

Our work on behalf of clients must shift focus to limiting the impact of these cuts.

Stylistically, public affairs needs to move from the splendid to the sober. Trying to convince a policy-maker to protect a particular budget is never easy. If we carry on trying to do this over lunch at The Connaught, this task becomes Sisyphean. The sector needs to do more to understand the working environment of public servants and not plead poverty for clients while enjoying their expenses. The era of the double lunch is over.

Most importantly, we need to focus more on the evidence behind our arguments. Personal relationships will always be useful, but when there isn't enough money to go around, having the most robust and reasoned arguments will always deliver the best results.

There are many details yet to be announced and these will inform our strategies. The Comprehensive Spending Review spells a tricky year for the public affairs industry and only the most adaptable will succeed.

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