Editorial: You don't always have to spell it out

The news this week that Golin/Harris Ludgate's public affairs arm is to drop the descriptor Public Affairs should not surprise those in political communication. As offerings change, the names used to describe them must keep in step.

It is questionable whether the two ideas being mooted by MD Ceri Evans - 21st Century Messaging and Advocacy Communication - will endure. But the idea that agencies should look beyond what rivals call themselves in deciding their own monikers is to be warmly applauded.

Public Affairs gained currency as a way to describe the work of those who not only lobbied through the traditional 'quiet word' approach but campaigned for change in more public ways.

The damage to the brand 'lobbying' by scandals also played its part in the adoption of the public affairs' tag. There is no such damage to the public affairs' brand because sharp practice has largely been stamped out. If Evans' gamble is right, he is ahead of the curve on the next major change to the industry's understanding of itself. If not he will have done himself no harm to be seen taking a long-term view.

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