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WP_Query Object ( [query] => Array ( [name] => digital-public-affairs-here-to-stay [post_type] => resources [resource-type] => blog ) [query_vars] => Array ( [name] => digital-public-affairs-here-to-stay [post_type] => resources [resource-type] => blog [error] => [m] => [p] => 0 [post_parent] => [subpost] => [subpost_id] => [attachment] => [attachment_id] => 0 [pagename] => [page_id] => 0 [second] => [minute] => [hour] => [day] => 0 [monthnum] => 0 [year] => 0 [w] => 0 [category_name] => [tag] => [cat] => [tag_id] => [author] => [author_name] => [feed] => [tb] => [paged] => 0 [meta_key] => [meta_value] => [preview] => [s] => [sentence] => [title] => [fields] => [menu_order] => [embed] => [category__in] => Array ( ) [category__not_in] => Array ( ) [category__and] => Array ( ) [post__in] => Array ( ) [post__not_in] => Array ( ) [post_name__in] => Array ( ) [tag__in] => Array ( ) [tag__not_in] => Array ( ) [tag__and] => Array ( ) [tag_slug__in] => Array ( ) [tag_slug__and] => Array ( ) [post_parent__in] => Array ( ) [post_parent__not_in] => Array ( ) [author__in] => Array ( ) [author__not_in] => Array ( ) [ignore_sticky_posts] => [suppress_filters] => [cache_results] => 1 [update_post_term_cache] => 1 [lazy_load_term_meta] => 1 [update_post_meta_cache] => 1 [posts_per_page] => 10 [nopaging] => [comments_per_page] => 50 [no_found_rows] => [order] => DESC ) [tax_query] => [meta_query] => WP_Meta_Query Object ( [queries] => Array ( ) [relation] => [meta_table] => [meta_id_column] => [primary_table] => [primary_id_column] => [table_aliases:protected] => Array ( ) [clauses:protected] => Array ( ) [has_or_relation:protected] => ) [date_query] => [queried_object] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7059 [post_author] => 28 [post_date] => 2022-07-19 15:49:57 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-07-19 15:49:57 [post_content] => Digital public affairs. The term has been around for years now — but some still consider it to be a mere buzzword at best. After all, successful public affairs strategies depend on humans, not robots… Right? Well, it’s not that simple anymore. Of course, the ‘human’ element of public affairs remains vital — especially in Brussels, which has always been a city that depends heavily on networking. But I’d like to make the case that digitalisation is just as important for the public affairs industry to remain efficient and competitive in a changing landscape. Why? In my 20+ years experience covering European affairs, media, and information services, I’ve seen the technological revolution first-hand. What has been remarkable is the pace of change. Standard practices from years gone by seem unthinkable now. I remember being a business analyst earlier in my career and having to pull together monthly market insight reports based on data we received on paper. That meant sifting through hundreds, if not thousands, of pages — manually! Now, with online tools, the task that used to take me three days takes no more than a few hours. It goes without saying that the world of digital has continued to evolve at an impressive rate. And now, in my role as Managing Director for Europe at Quorum, I’m even more passionate about helping public affairs teams increase their impact by integrating digital tools into their workflows. So, in this post I’ll take you through a brief history of digitalisation and what it has meant for public affairs professionals — before taking a deep-dive into the core benefits of digitalising public affairs processes. Let’s get stuck in!

What is digitalisation — and what does digital public affairs mean?

First, the basics. According to Gartner, digitalisation is “the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities; it is the process of moving to a digital business.” But in the world of public affairs, which has typically relied on in-person interactions and intelligence gathered in hushed conversations on the sidelines of meetings, lobbyists have been sceptical of the value of digital. I remember early conversations about the rise of artificial intelligence and concerns about what it would mean for the future of jobs in the industry. Surely tech couldn’t compete with the value of human-to-human networks…could it? To the relief of public affairs professionals around Brussels, human interaction and networking has remained king — and digitalisation has proved itself to be a friend rather than a foe. Since around 2014, increasing numbers of lobbyists have turned to digital tools to help them gather intelligence, with these solutions being a complement to, rather than a replacement of, conventional public affairs activities. Beyond the traditional interpretations of ‘digital’ amounting to social media or video conferencing, the digital solutions available in public affairs are platforms that help users to gather, monitor, and scrutinise information relevant to their advocacy objectives — while also acting as a customer relationship management (CRM) solution to facilitate interactions with policymakers and stakeholders alike. While digital uptake had been growing for some time, a real turning point came in March 2020. As the COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold in Europe, the resulting lockdowns acted as a catalyst to accelerate the use of digital public affairs platforms. I remember the initial sense of apprehension as we were mandated to work from home in Brussels. With face-to-face interactions out of the question, what would lobbying look like in this new virtual-only world? But public affairs, in my opinion, is one of the most resilient and adaptive industries there is. It became clear that lobbyists had to gather and manage political intelligence in a new way. So what did they do? They adopted digital public affairs in earnest. And that approach is here to stay.

What are the benefits of digitalisation in public affairs?

I’ve heard from professionals from all corners of the public affairs landscape — corporations, consultancies, NGOs, you name it. No matter who I’m talking to, there’s one story in common — “Digital has revolutionised our day-to-day in so many ways.” I tend to group the benefits they’ve discussed with me into three main areas: [post_title] => Digital Public Affairs Is Here to Stay in Brussels. Don’t Get Left Behind. [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => digital-public-affairs-here-to-stay [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-11-03 16:04:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-11-03 16:04:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.quorum.us/?post_type=resources&p=7059 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => resources [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [queried_object_id] => 7059 [request] => SELECT wp_posts.* FROM wp_posts WHERE 1=1 AND wp_posts.post_name = 'digital-public-affairs-here-to-stay' AND wp_posts.post_type = 'resources' ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC [posts] => Array ( [0] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7059 [post_author] => 28 [post_date] => 2022-07-19 15:49:57 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-07-19 15:49:57 [post_content] => Digital public affairs. The term has been around for years now — but some still consider it to be a mere buzzword at best. After all, successful public affairs strategies depend on humans, not robots… Right? Well, it’s not that simple anymore. Of course, the ‘human’ element of public affairs remains vital — especially in Brussels, which has always been a city that depends heavily on networking. But I’d like to make the case that digitalisation is just as important for the public affairs industry to remain efficient and competitive in a changing landscape. Why? In my 20+ years experience covering European affairs, media, and information services, I’ve seen the technological revolution first-hand. What has been remarkable is the pace of change. Standard practices from years gone by seem unthinkable now. I remember being a business analyst earlier in my career and having to pull together monthly market insight reports based on data we received on paper. That meant sifting through hundreds, if not thousands, of pages — manually! Now, with online tools, the task that used to take me three days takes no more than a few hours. It goes without saying that the world of digital has continued to evolve at an impressive rate. And now, in my role as Managing Director for Europe at Quorum, I’m even more passionate about helping public affairs teams increase their impact by integrating digital tools into their workflows. So, in this post I’ll take you through a brief history of digitalisation and what it has meant for public affairs professionals — before taking a deep-dive into the core benefits of digitalising public affairs processes. Let’s get stuck in!

What is digitalisation — and what does digital public affairs mean?

First, the basics. According to Gartner, digitalisation is “the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities; it is the process of moving to a digital business.” But in the world of public affairs, which has typically relied on in-person interactions and intelligence gathered in hushed conversations on the sidelines of meetings, lobbyists have been sceptical of the value of digital. I remember early conversations about the rise of artificial intelligence and concerns about what it would mean for the future of jobs in the industry. Surely tech couldn’t compete with the value of human-to-human networks…could it? To the relief of public affairs professionals around Brussels, human interaction and networking has remained king — and digitalisation has proved itself to be a friend rather than a foe. Since around 2014, increasing numbers of lobbyists have turned to digital tools to help them gather intelligence, with these solutions being a complement to, rather than a replacement of, conventional public affairs activities. Beyond the traditional interpretations of ‘digital’ amounting to social media or video conferencing, the digital solutions available in public affairs are platforms that help users to gather, monitor, and scrutinise information relevant to their advocacy objectives — while also acting as a customer relationship management (CRM) solution to facilitate interactions with policymakers and stakeholders alike. While digital uptake had been growing for some time, a real turning point came in March 2020. As the COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold in Europe, the resulting lockdowns acted as a catalyst to accelerate the use of digital public affairs platforms. I remember the initial sense of apprehension as we were mandated to work from home in Brussels. With face-to-face interactions out of the question, what would lobbying look like in this new virtual-only world? But public affairs, in my opinion, is one of the most resilient and adaptive industries there is. It became clear that lobbyists had to gather and manage political intelligence in a new way. So what did they do? They adopted digital public affairs in earnest. And that approach is here to stay.

What are the benefits of digitalisation in public affairs?

I’ve heard from professionals from all corners of the public affairs landscape — corporations, consultancies, NGOs, you name it. No matter who I’m talking to, there’s one story in common — “Digital has revolutionised our day-to-day in so many ways.” I tend to group the benefits they’ve discussed with me into three main areas: [post_title] => Digital Public Affairs Is Here to Stay in Brussels. Don’t Get Left Behind. [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => digital-public-affairs-here-to-stay [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-11-03 16:04:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-11-03 16:04:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.quorum.us/?post_type=resources&p=7059 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => resources [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 1 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7059 [post_author] => 28 [post_date] => 2022-07-19 15:49:57 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-07-19 15:49:57 [post_content] => Digital public affairs. The term has been around for years now — but some still consider it to be a mere buzzword at best. After all, successful public affairs strategies depend on humans, not robots… Right? Well, it’s not that simple anymore. Of course, the ‘human’ element of public affairs remains vital — especially in Brussels, which has always been a city that depends heavily on networking. But I’d like to make the case that digitalisation is just as important for the public affairs industry to remain efficient and competitive in a changing landscape. Why? In my 20+ years experience covering European affairs, media, and information services, I’ve seen the technological revolution first-hand. What has been remarkable is the pace of change. Standard practices from years gone by seem unthinkable now. I remember being a business analyst earlier in my career and having to pull together monthly market insight reports based on data we received on paper. That meant sifting through hundreds, if not thousands, of pages — manually! Now, with online tools, the task that used to take me three days takes no more than a few hours. It goes without saying that the world of digital has continued to evolve at an impressive rate. And now, in my role as Managing Director for Europe at Quorum, I’m even more passionate about helping public affairs teams increase their impact by integrating digital tools into their workflows. So, in this post I’ll take you through a brief history of digitalisation and what it has meant for public affairs professionals — before taking a deep-dive into the core benefits of digitalising public affairs processes. Let’s get stuck in!

What is digitalisation — and what does digital public affairs mean?

First, the basics. According to Gartner, digitalisation is “the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities; it is the process of moving to a digital business.” But in the world of public affairs, which has typically relied on in-person interactions and intelligence gathered in hushed conversations on the sidelines of meetings, lobbyists have been sceptical of the value of digital. I remember early conversations about the rise of artificial intelligence and concerns about what it would mean for the future of jobs in the industry. Surely tech couldn’t compete with the value of human-to-human networks…could it? To the relief of public affairs professionals around Brussels, human interaction and networking has remained king — and digitalisation has proved itself to be a friend rather than a foe. Since around 2014, increasing numbers of lobbyists have turned to digital tools to help them gather intelligence, with these solutions being a complement to, rather than a replacement of, conventional public affairs activities. Beyond the traditional interpretations of ‘digital’ amounting to social media or video conferencing, the digital solutions available in public affairs are platforms that help users to gather, monitor, and scrutinise information relevant to their advocacy objectives — while also acting as a customer relationship management (CRM) solution to facilitate interactions with policymakers and stakeholders alike. While digital uptake had been growing for some time, a real turning point came in March 2020. As the COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold in Europe, the resulting lockdowns acted as a catalyst to accelerate the use of digital public affairs platforms. I remember the initial sense of apprehension as we were mandated to work from home in Brussels. With face-to-face interactions out of the question, what would lobbying look like in this new virtual-only world? But public affairs, in my opinion, is one of the most resilient and adaptive industries there is. It became clear that lobbyists had to gather and manage political intelligence in a new way. So what did they do? They adopted digital public affairs in earnest. And that approach is here to stay.

What are the benefits of digitalisation in public affairs?

I’ve heard from professionals from all corners of the public affairs landscape — corporations, consultancies, NGOs, you name it. No matter who I’m talking to, there’s one story in common — “Digital has revolutionised our day-to-day in so many ways.” I tend to group the benefits they’ve discussed with me into three main areas: [post_title] => Digital Public Affairs Is Here to Stay in Brussels. Don’t Get Left Behind. [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => digital-public-affairs-here-to-stay [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-11-03 16:04:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-11-03 16:04:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.quorum.us/?post_type=resources&p=7059 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => resources [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [comment_count] => 0 [current_comment] => -1 [found_posts] => 1 [max_num_pages] => 0 [max_num_comment_pages] => 0 [is_single] => 1 [is_preview] => [is_page] => [is_archive] => [is_date] => [is_year] => [is_month] => [is_day] => [is_time] => [is_author] => [is_category] => [is_tag] => [is_tax] => [is_search] => [is_feed] => [is_comment_feed] => [is_trackback] => [is_home] => [is_privacy_policy] => [is_404] => [is_embed] => [is_paged] => [is_admin] => [is_attachment] => [is_singular] => 1 [is_robots] => [is_favicon] => [is_posts_page] => [is_post_type_archive] => [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => a74b9d58408396b16472ea163569df00 [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => [thumbnails_cached] => [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => [compat_fields:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => query_vars_hash [1] => query_vars_changed ) [compat_methods:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => init_query_flags [1] => parse_tax_query ) )
!!! 7059
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Digital Public Affairs Is Here to Stay in Brussels. Don’t Get Left Behind.

Digital Public Affairs Is Here to Stay in Brussels. Don’t Get Left Behind.

Digital public affairs. The term has been around for years now — but some still consider it to be a mere buzzword at best. After all, successful public affairs strategies depend on humans, not robots… Right?

Well, it’s not that simple anymore. Of course, the ‘human’ element of public affairs remains vital — especially in Brussels, which has always been a city that depends heavily on networking. But I’d like to make the case that digitalisation is just as important for the public affairs industry to remain efficient and competitive in a changing landscape.

Why? In my 20+ years experience covering European affairs, media, and information services, I’ve seen the technological revolution first-hand. What has been remarkable is the pace of change. Standard practices from years gone by seem unthinkable now. I remember being a business analyst earlier in my career and having to pull together monthly market insight reports based on data we received on paper. That meant sifting through hundreds, if not thousands, of pages — manually! Now, with online tools, the task that used to take me three days takes no more than a few hours.

It goes without saying that the world of digital has continued to evolve at an impressive rate. And now, in my role as Managing Director for Europe at Quorum, I’m even more passionate about helping public affairs teams increase their impact by integrating digital tools into their workflows.

So, in this post I’ll take you through a brief history of digitalisation and what it has meant for public affairs professionals — before taking a deep-dive into the core benefits of digitalising public affairs processes. Let’s get stuck in!

What is digitalisation — and what does digital public affairs mean?

First, the basics. According to Gartner, digitalisation is “the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities; it is the process of moving to a digital business.”

But in the world of public affairs, which has typically relied on in-person interactions and intelligence gathered in hushed conversations on the sidelines of meetings, lobbyists have been sceptical of the value of digital. I remember early conversations about the rise of artificial intelligence and concerns about what it would mean for the future of jobs in the industry. Surely tech couldn’t compete with the value of human-to-human networks…could it?

To the relief of public affairs professionals around Brussels, human interaction and networking has remained king — and digitalisation has proved itself to be a friend rather than a foe.

Since around 2014, increasing numbers of lobbyists have turned to digital tools to help them gather intelligence, with these solutions being a complement to, rather than a replacement of, conventional public affairs activities. Beyond the traditional interpretations of ‘digital’ amounting to social media or video conferencing, the digital solutions available in public affairs are platforms that help users to gather, monitor, and scrutinise information relevant to their advocacy objectives — while also acting as a customer relationship management (CRM) solution to facilitate interactions with policymakers and stakeholders alike.

While digital uptake had been growing for some time, a real turning point came in March 2020. As the COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold in Europe, the resulting lockdowns acted as a catalyst to accelerate the use of digital public affairs platforms. I remember the initial sense of apprehension as we were mandated to work from home in Brussels. With face-to-face interactions out of the question, what would lobbying look like in this new virtual-only world?

But public affairs, in my opinion, is one of the most resilient and adaptive industries there is. It became clear that lobbyists had to gather and manage political intelligence in a new way. So what did they do?

They adopted digital public affairs in earnest. And that approach is here to stay.

What are the benefits of digitalisation in public affairs?

I’ve heard from professionals from all corners of the public affairs landscape — corporations, consultancies, NGOs, you name it. No matter who I’m talking to, there’s one story in common — “Digital has revolutionised our day-to-day in so many ways.”

I tend to group the benefits they’ve discussed with me into three main areas:

Let’s dive in.

Efficiency Gains Across Teams and Geographies

Working collaboratively across regions has typically been a challenge for public affairs teams. Distance and time zones can create blockers in a team’s ability to share the right information at the right time, which leads to slower reaction times and productivity losses.

And this is no longer unique to teams who are spread across geographies. Teams based in Brussels or in Member State capitals need to be intentional about collaboration and knowledge-sharing to remain efficient in the new ‘hybrid’ working format, where employees work remotely several days per week. I’ve heard from several contacts that hybrid working has proved to be a learning curve for their organisations: with reduced opportunities for face-to-face information exchange — key insights can sometimes fall through the cracks.

So, what benefits can digital provide for public affairs professionals in this situation?

At a high level, digital facilitates collaboration by providing a shared platform for colleagues to record and analyse information. What this looks like in practice will vary depending on each organisation’s needs, but a fairly universal example based on companies I work with is social media monitoring.

With real-time social media alerts available through digital tools, team members can have instant access to the most recent insights on the political landscape. For example, teams can be notified when a key stakeholder such as an MEP or a Commissioner mentions their priority topics or a certain legislative file. This information can be woven into automated graphs and widgets to give the team data on how their issue is showing up in the political landscape over time — which keeps colleagues on the same page without the need for lengthy meetings.

By making process improvements like this, organisations can save significant amounts of time — which helps them stay one step ahead of the policy landscape, and (most importantly!) their competitors.

Reinforced Institutional Memory for Increased Transparency

Digital platforms also help build institutional memory around public affairs efforts.

We know that a certain level of turnover is a fact of life in any industry — so I’d encourage anyone in charge of a public affairs team to create a process for keeping a record of their organisation’s relationships. Digital tools are an efficient way to do this. By logging interactions and meetings, teams can create a single source of truth about their public affairs activities over time. Not only does this strengthen internal knowledge-sharing, it also helps mitigate the impact of potential departures and facilitates onboarding for new colleagues. (No more asking colleagues to sift through their calendars to brief new hires!)

Another key value-add comes in the form of transparency. Take CropLife Europe. They heavily value transparency in their work, and so they turned to digital tools to record their meetings with officials. This is becoming increasingly important as citizens demand to know more about how decisions are made at the heart of the European Union — not to mention the obligations for organisations to report to the Transparency Register.

In the next few years, European citizens will expect to see ‘behind the curtain’ of public affairs activities in a way we haven’t experienced before. This is especially true as the institutions pick through the outcomes from the Conference on the Future of Europe. Don’t let the demand for transparency take you by surprise — work on your institutional memory in anticipation of the trend.

Demonstrating Successes with Data-Backed Insights

A discussion that I keep coming back to is how to tangibly demonstrate the value of the public affairs function, both internally and externally. Frankly, many organisations are still figuring out how best to do this — there’s no easy answer to the million-dollar (or euro?) question of how to make the seemingly ‘intangible’, tangible. What I’ve learnt is that there’s definitely no one-size-fits-all method for measuring the impact of advocacy work — but digital approaches hold the key to helping organisations establish a tailored methodology that works for them.

Using digital tools, public affairs professionals can capture insights on their day-to-day work. I recommend starting with metrics such as meeting sentiment, stakeholder alignment, or issues discussed per interaction. Why? Over time, visibility on these key aspects provides a framework to analyse the ‘big picture’ of how a team is tracking towards their goals. For example, teams can understand exactly how they are influencing their stakeholders — and on which topics — over time. That helps them pulse-check their strategy and optimise their efforts as they go.

We know that public affairs is all about gaining key information. But the question now is: how can teams use this information to improve decision-making? Digital advocacy tools can help teams to illustrate their successes and uncover opportunities to bolster their strategy — all backed up by data which is collected automatically. These insights make a convincing case, for internal and external stakeholders alike, of the value of a public affairs team’s work.

In a Nutshell: The Importance of Digital Public Affairs

A digital way of working not only boosts productivity and efficiency across teams — it builds institutional memory, responds to an increased societal demand for industry transparency, and helps to quantify a team’s success.

And the best part? Digital automates key parts of those processes. That leaves public affairs teams with more time and space to focus on what matters: creating innovative strategies to successfully change the policy landscape.

There may be those who remain sceptical about the value of digital public affairs. However, the fact remains that digital has solidified its place in the industry; more and more key players are leaning on technology to stay ahead of the policy landscape and work effectively at pace. Those who do not adopt digital solutions may well find themselves left behind by their competitors — and risk being seen as outdated and opaque by vast portions of civil society.

Put simply, digitalisation has revolutionised advocacy and lobbying in Europe. Dedicated solutions are now essential for public affairs professionals to stay efficient and competitive. Digital is here to stay — don’t get left behind!

About Arnaud

Arnaud is a seasoned international business professional with specialised expertise in European public affairs. As Managing Director of Quorum’s European office, Arnaud heads up the company’s business operations both within the EU and further afield, and also oversees Quorum’s international growth strategy. He brings over 20 years of international experience to the role — spanning several industries, including EU public affairs, media, and information and technology.