This section covers public affairs – the process by which you can influence policymakers.

It highlights the vital role that research has in public policymaking and gives advice on how best to present your case. It gives details of the support available from the ESRC including training, publications and help with organising events.

It explains key aspects of the UK policymaking process and links to some vital information sources. It also gives advice on managing and maintaining a range of policymaking contacts and gives tips on using specialist public affairs agencies.

In this section...

Top tips on public affairs

  • Make sure that an effective approach to public affairs is an important part of your overall impact plan. Your approach to public affairs is likely to involve a much higher degree of interaction with your target audience of policymakers than you may need with other audiences. 
  • Be clear about your messages and make sure they are compelling for policymakers in your target group. Policymakers are bombarded with information from a variety of sources. Be succinct and don't be too academic in your style of communication. 
  • Always emphasise what you can do for policymakers as well as asking what they can do for you – explain how your input will take their agenda forward and support their priorities. 
  • Prepare for face-to-face communication with policymakers by having a bullet point briefing ready and make sure you leave some high-impact, succinct material behind after the meeting. Follow up face-to-face contact with a short letter of thanks reinforcing the main points from the meeting and creating the opportunity for future contact. 
  • Be proactive and look for new opportunities. New policymakers and key players emerge all the time and you need to stay attuned to movements and developments. 
  • Call on the expertise of the ESRC where staff can advise on public affairs, recommend specialist help and send you on training courses on working with policymakers. 
  • Make good use of the wide availability of free information on the internet, particularly on parliamentary and civil service matters across the UK and Europe. See for a list of websites, see the section on useful information. 
  • Track your public affairs contacts and to manage them effectively. Keep up to date with movements and always enter new contact details onto a database. Always maintain useful contacts even if they move out of your immediate sphere of interest.  
  • If you use a specialist public affairs agency, go by the reputation of the individuals working there, not just the brand name. Make sure it is a member of the Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPC) and clarify what you want and what you expect to pay for. Remember that you can do much of the basic information research yourself for a fraction of the cost.