WASHINGTON: While public affairs practices and corporations are
scrambling to keep pace with changing legislative priorities, PRWeek has
learned that the Public Affairs Council (PAC) is creating an
international panel comprised of senior PA execs from multinational
"There is going to be an even greater focus, especially among
multinationals, on building stakeholder relationships, and how you
operate effectively in countries where you do business," said Doug
Pinkham, president of the PAC. The council will help members to "audit
how we are doing, asking if we are exacerbating the problems in the
The move comes in the light of a vastly changed public affairs
environment since September 11. "What we are finding is that a lot of
legislative and public policy agendas that were in place before
September 11 have been radically changed," said Richard Mintz, chairman
of Burson-Marsteller's public affairs practice.
"A litany of issues has been put on the back burner for a whole new set
Legislative attention to issues like energy, telecom, and healthcare
policies have taken an indefinite back seat. As a result, corporations
and trade associations are focusing public affairs attention on broad
issues like the economy, international affairs, and security.
Bob Sommer, EVP of The MWW Group, said he is aggressively meeting with
legislators to discuss how his clients can help tackle areas like
homeland defense and international security. "What's different is
people's approach to the issues," he said. "There has to be a credible
case for how they can help in those categories."
Earlier this month, President Bush met with CEOs from a range of
industries - including AT&T's C. Michael Armstrong and Ken Chenault of
American Express - in New York to discuss the sagging economy.
As part of a highly regulated industry, AT&T already has significant
relationships with government officials. But the focus of AT&T's
in-house team has shifted away from lobbying and educating legislators.
"The issues are not as focused on the particular industry you are in,"
said Claudia Jones, an AT&T spokeswoman in Washington.
Among other operations adjusting their focus, the National Grocers
Association has been holding meetings with the Food and Drug
Administration to tackle questions regarding the safety of imported food
and country-of-origin labeling.