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Digital Public Affairs in a Nutshell

By Julien Landfried, Partner, Publicis Consultants and Florian Wastl, Director, MSLGROUP in Germany

The world of public affairs is traditionally seen as a closed shop. Does this make it immune from the disruptive force of digital innovation and social media? Not at all. Digital Public Affairs is a reality. But what is it? We hope the following seven points will help to give you a better understanding of #DigitalPA

1. The political sphere in the broad sense (government, administration, parliamentarians, local elected officials, government agencies, administrative bodies) is increasingly sensitive to online position statements from stakeholders (citizen, associations, companies). They increasingly broadcast messages from the social networks, blogs, forums or from new participatory tools as e-petition platforms or on video sharing platforms such as Youtube. This civil expression is taken into account at the time of the political decision.

2. Through the public sphere (the state in general, national or local elected representatives), companies or associations can be called upon or questioned by stakeholders (citizens, associations, companies). This defensive position is frequently used. For instance, in a recent case, a mass distribution brand was called into question by an NGO for its use of high-seas bottom trawling via a comic book and an e-petition.

3. Similarly, different stakeholders (citizens, associations, companies) can engage with other stakeholders. This offensive approach is frequently used by start-ups which mobilize their supporters to lobby for regulations allowing them to develop and deploy technological innovation in low-competition sectors.

Image source: Flickr

Image source: Flickr

4. The extension of the field of public affairs might be an additional risk to the reputation of organizations (companies, associations). However, it might also be an opportunity to “shift the position line”.

5. Digital Public Affairs is at the crossroads of public affairs as well as corporate and consumer communications in organizations. It is an internal transformation tool to deal with digital disruption. As a result, public affairs, corporate communications and consumer communications become de facto decompartmentalized.

6. The inherent transparency of Digital Public Affairs requires that companies have real convictions, that they can carry and defend in the public space, accepting contradiction.

7. The construction and deployment of a coherent digital public affairs strategy involves simultaneous control of the traditional problems of public affairs and detailed knowledge not only of “good practice” in the digital world but also that of the digital sector companies.

This threefold requirement puts integrated communications agencies or networks like MSLGROUP in an advanced position on the experience curve compared to public affairs and digital only players.

Julien Landfried


Julien Landfried is the Public Affairs’s partner of Publicis Consultants In Paris, France. Over the years, he has developed his expertise in three areas: consulting in Public affairs, influence strategies and Digital Public Affairs. Graduate of HEC Paris, he is also a renowned expert in political campaigning. Connect with him on twitter: @landfried


Florian Wastl


Florian Wastl heads up MSL Germany’s team in the German capital, Berlin, and is a seasoned expert in all aspects of corporate affairs, with a special focus on public and regulatory affairs. He has worked extensively with clients from the food, energy, and health sectors. Connect with him on twitter: @flowa12




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