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Public Affairs

Public affairs is an organization's strategy to monitor, manage and impact its business environment. It integrates government affairs; advocacy; communications; environmental, social and corporate governance; and issues management to influence public policy, build a strong brand and find common ground with stakeholders. Read more about Public Affairs...

Issues Management

Issues management is a strategic management process that helps organizations identify and respond appropriately to emerging trends or changes in the socio-political environment. Establishing a comprehensive and proactive issue management process can help an organization avoid crises and reputational damage, while ensuring alignment between public affairs and business goals.

Grassroots Campaigns

Grassroots movements and organizations utilize collective action to affect change at the local, regional, national or international levels. Grassroots movements are associated with bottom-up, rather than top-down decision making. This level of activity is usually unassociated with the political elite and can be applied to political, educational and community-motivated movements.


The term grasstops is used to describe communication to and the engagement of influential people in an organization or community. Because these individuals have a high public or professional profile, they can effectively raise awareness of issues and influence political decision-makers.

Stakeholder Engagement

An inclusive and continuous process to involve people who may be affected by an organization’s actions to dialogue about its impact on individuals and society. A successful stakeholder engagement strategy can create shared value across sectors and improve business performance, as well as help companies mitigate risk and expand market opportunities.

Shared Value

Shared value is a management and stakeholder engagement strategy through which an organization creates a business development opportunity that simultaneously addresses a social issue. As such, a company is able to create economic value while also benefitting society by addressing one of its challenges.

PAC (Political Action Committee)

A political action committee (PAC) is a group formed for the purpose of contributing money to the campaigns of politicians or to support politicians' campaigns indirectly. PACs usually function at the federal level, and tend to direct their funds to the campaigns of current or future decision-makers whose policies would benefit the group’s interests. They are heavily regulated.

Issue Advocacy

Issue advocacy is a communications, lobbying, and public affairs strategy focused on a specific issue, problem, or area of interest; issue advocacy is intended to influence a political issue, legislative proposal or public policy — not to advocate the election or defeat of candidates. A successful issue advocacy campaign incorporates tactics that include: petition drives, advertising, traditional relationship lobbying and grassroots advocacy. In addition, issue advocacy campaigns often use the same tactics as political campaigns; however, the ultimate goal is to influence public policy outcomes, not the election or defeat of a particular candidate.

Digital Advocacy

Digital advocacy is a public affairs issue engagement approach centered on web-based channels of communication, such as social media. Digital advocacy can be used to expand one’s audience, educate people on specific issues, build rapport with stakeholders and manage one’s reputation. Vital steps for creating a successful strategy include message testing and optimization, budget planning, content creation, audience identification, engaging supporters, and focusing on the proper mix of digital media.

Community Relations

Community relations is a function strategy designed to improve and maintain a company’s reputation and relationships in the communities in which it operates. Community relations involves developing programs that benefit society and build mutual trust and understanding. These initiatives are generally viewed as essential for promoting long-term business goals.

Thought Leadership

A thought leader is an individual or organization that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded. They often have a strong record of online and public engagement, a creative personal branding strategy, and a strategic approach to leadership. Thought leaders are confident in their opinions, and know how to present their ideas in an innovative and relevant manner.

Government Relations

Government relations (or government affairs) encompasses a broad range of strategies designed to influence public policy. These include direct lobbying, policy communication, PAC management, grassroots, and issues management. Government relations professionals serve as ambassadors for their organizations in discussions with policy-makers at all levels and are responsible for keeping their organizations informed about the impact of government.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

CSR represents a company’s efforts to assess and take responsibility for the environmental and social impacts of its operations, and to engage society in ways that serve the public interest. This function, which is also referred to as “corporate responsibility” or “corporate citizenship,” applies to endeavors that go beyond what is required by law.

Corporate Communications

Corporate communication is a strategic function that seeks to establish and maintain a mutual understanding inside a company and with external stakeholders. Identity, trust, image and reputation are key elements in a corporate communication program. In many cases, public relations is a synonym for corporate communications; it represents the management of communication between an organization and its publics.

Reputation Management

Reputation management is the process of identifying what other people are saying or feeling about an individual or organization, and taking steps to ensure the general consensus is in line with one’s intentions. Increasingly, the term is also used by those attempting to shape public perception by influencing online information about an individual or organization.


Lobbying is direct communication with government decision-makers for the purpose of influencing legislative action or administrative/regulatory decisions.

Registered Lobbyist

A registered lobbyist is anyone who conducts lobbying activities on behalf of another person or entity for financial compensation. While most states in the U.S. have their own versions of lobbying laws and exceptions, they share the same basic definition of “lobbying” as an attempt to influence government action through written or oral communications.

Independent Expenditures

An independent expenditure is an expense incurred for a political campaign communication that advocates for the election or defeat of a specific candidate that is not made in cooperation or consultation with any candidate, their staff, or political party. If anyone connected to the candidate becomes involved in this communication, the expenditure is not independent.

Super PAC

A Super PAC is a type of independent political action committee (PAC) that can raise an unlimited sum of money from corporations, unions, and individuals in order to advocate for or against the election of a political candidate. Super PACs are prohibited from contributing money directly to candidates, and the spending may not be coordinated with that of the candidates they benefit. Super PACs are a fairly new type of committee that arose after a 2010 federal court decision in the case of v. Federal Election Commission. Super PACs are known as “independent expenditure-only committees,” and are required to report their donors to the Federal Election Commission.


Sustainability initiatives focus on company efforts to access and take responsibility for environmental impacts and proactively work to support the environment in ways that go beyond what is required by law.


A coalition represents a formed alliance of distinct political parties, persons, states, companies, nonprofits or other organizations for a common cause.

Earned Media

Earned media is publicity that is gained through promotional efforts other than paid advertising. Examples of earned digital media include mentions in articles, shares of content, reposts and reviews.

Paid Media

Paid media is publicity gained through a paid placement, such as advertising. It includes pay per click, display ads, paid influencers, paid content promotion and social media ads.

Native Advertising

Native advertising is a type of paid media in which the ad is made to look and feel as if it is a part of the content the user is viewing. Examples of native advertising include promoted or suggested posts on social media, and content recommendations from various online platforms. Native advertising, which may create a higher level of engagement with prospective stakeholders than traditional display ads, has become synonymous with the term “sponsored content.”

Public Affairs Metrics

Public affairs measurement and evaluation systems generally track impact rather than activity. Common metrics include objectives achieved, internal and external stakeholder satisfaction, legislative wins/losses, costs avoided/reduced, revenue created, and return on investment. Increasingly, organizations are using key performance indicators (KPIs) such as reach of grassroots activity, allies recruited, and legislative milestones achieved.

Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA)

A law enacted in 1995 and amended in 2007 via the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA). It requires lobbyists to file disclosure reports each calendar quarter, in addition to filing political contribution reports every six months.

Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA)

Amended the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 by doubling the frequency of lobbyists' reporting and increasing criminal and civil penalties. Among other provisions, the Act extends from one to two years the ban on lobbying contacts by certain former elected officials and non-elected personnel; prohibits registered lobbyists from giving a gift or providing travel to a covered legislative branch official if they know the gift or travel is barred under House or Senate rules; and subjects to a fine or imprisonment any Member of Congress or a Congressional employee who, with the intent to influence an employment decision of any private entity, takes or withholds, or offers or threatens to take or withhold, an official act.

Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)

A law that requires anyone engaging in political or advocacy activities in the U.S. on behalf of foreign entities to register with the Department of Justice and to disclose any activities, relationship, receipts, and disbursements in support/documentation of their actions.

Lobbying Firm

A person or entity that has one or more employees who are lobbyists on behalf of a client other than that person or entity. The term also includes a self-employed individual who is a lobbyist.

Leadership PAC

A leadership PAC is defined as a political committee that is directly or indirectly established, financed, maintained or controlled by a candidate or an individual holding federal office, but is not an authorized committee of the candidate or officeholder and is not affiliated with an authorized committee of a candidate or officeholder. Leadership PACs do not include political party committees.

Hybrid PAC

Hybrid PACs are political committees with non-contribution accounts that solicit and accept unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations, labor organizations, and other political committees to a segregated bank account for the purpose of financing independent expenditures, other ads that refer to a federal candidate, and generic voter drives in federal elections, while maintaining a separate bank account, subject to all the statutory amount limitations and source prohibitions, that is permitted to make contributions to federal candidates.

PAC Match

A PAC charitable matching program is a fundraising benefit where the PAC’s connected organization pledges to match contributions to the PAC with a contribution to a charity. It is up to the connected organization to determine the matching ratio and whether this incentive is offered to all members or only ones who give over a certain threshold. Charity selection is also determined by the PAC and the organization’s operating teams. Some PACs match contributions to any charitable organization while others designate a select few and some only offer one charity option. Any charitable contributions made through a PAC match program are not tax deductible.

Prior Approval

For a trade association PAC to solicit personnel from their member companies, they must receive prior approval or written consent from the corporate member granting permission to solicit their employees. Prior approval can be granted for up to five years at once, but this has to be specified in writing.

Restricted Class

The restricted class of a corporation consists of: executive and administrative personnel, stockholders, family members of these groups. The restricted class of a membership organization consists of: Noncorporate members, the organization’s executive and administrative personnel, the families of both groups. The restricted class of a trade association consists of: Noncorporate members, association’s executive and administrative personnel, executive/administrative personnel and stockholders of member corporations (with prior approval), the families of all three groups.


A bundled contribution is any contribution that is either (1) forwarded to a reporting committee by a lobbyist/registrant or lobbyist/registrant PAC; or (2) received by the reporting committee and credited to a lobbyist/registrant or lobbyist/registrant PAC through "records, designations, or other means of recognizing that a certain amount of money has been raised."

Hard Money

Hard money describes funds given directly to candidate committees for the purpose of election spending. It is regulated by the Federal Election Committee and subject to strict limits and reporting requirements according to the Federal Election Campaign Act. Connected employee or member funded PAC funds are hard money.

Soft Money

Soft money describes funds contributed to political parties for general purposes and not to be used on election activities in coordination with candidates or their committees. Soft money is less regulated and not subject to strict limits.


ESG stands for environmental, social and governance. It is a set of practices and metrics used to evaluate a company beyond its financial performance. ESG criteria are used to measure how a business is considering important ESG issues that could have long-term financial impact.

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