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.