The G15 group handed the brief to Precise Public Affairs after a seven-way shoot-out. It is understood that major agencies, including Weber Shandwick and Connect Public Affairs, were on the shortlist.
The G15 group comprises 15 associations that together provide social housing for 700,000 Londoners - approximately one in 10 people living in the capital.
The housing associations only considered agencies that are members of the APPC. An insider said the G15 combed through the APPC register, looking at agencies' client lists to decide which would be 'the best fit'.
The G15's approach is the latest warning to agencies that refuse to join the APPC - such as Bell Pottinger Public Affairs, Hanover Communications, Luther Pendragon and DLA Piper Global Government Relations - that their stance could yet prove expensive.
Some recent public affairs tenders have asked for adherence to the APPC code but stopped short of requiring full membership of the APPC.
London Mayor Ken Livingstone last year pledged to stop using public affairs agencies that refuse to adhere to industry-wide codes (PRWeek, 24 August 2007).
Tom Dacey, chief executive of Southern Housing Group and chair of the G15, said there had been 'an exhaustive recruitment process'.
Precise will aim to raise the profile of G15 members with London's 74 MPs, the Greater London Authority and individual local councils. The housing associations want a greater say on housing issues, as well as on a broader range of public policy issues including the environment, diversity and social cohesion.
Precise director Robbie MacDuff said the agency would work to ensure that there is 'greater understanding and differentiation of the sector in London'.
Precise was recently bought out by MacDuff and fellow director Chris Lowe. The two directors agreed a deal with parent firm Unique Communications Group.