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Pulling up a Chair

As I stand down as Chair of NextGen Public Affairs, it seemed like a good opportunity to reflect on the work of the group over the past 18 months.

The group’s origins lie in the 2018 merger of the PRCA and the APPC in 2018. This created the Public Affairs Board, with the APPC’s Young Consultants’ Committee (YCC) sitting under it. In early 2019, the YCC met to discuss its direction of travel. It was at this meeting (my first as a member of this Committee) that I volunteered to take over from Jenny Powell as Chair.

It was decided that the YCC would be renamed to align with the other groups that exist within the PRCA, and the name NextGen Public Affairs (NextGen PA) seemed like a good fit for the audience the group used to represent.

We soon realised, however, that many people join the industry after the age of 30 - and that the group’s offering could be widened to include them. We agreed to change the definition of membership, so that the group now represents everyone in the first ten years in their public affairs career, rather than just those under the age of 30. This change – and the decision to welcome inhouse professionals – was an important part of making the group more inclusive.

The objectives of the new NextGen PA group were to:

·         Establish our mission – to provide support, a network, and a voice for public affairs practitioners in the first ten years of their career.

·         Raise our profile – because while the YCC was known in the industry, we recognised that a name change and a new organisation would require some shouting about.

·         Provide value for more public affairs professionals – whether this be as part of the Committee itself, training sessions or networking opportunities, we wanted to be able to give the members of the NextGen PA community what they wanted.

We also strived to make the group more accessible by distributing a monthly newsletter – reaching nearly 200 practitioners – producing a booklet on the group and circulating it amongst Public Affairs Board members, setting up new social media accounts, and creating an email address so anyone could contact myself or the Vice Chairs directly. We wanted those we represent to get to know us, so shared profiles of the members of the Committee in the newsletter and across our channels.

In the past 18 months, we have organised a huge range of events including; a discussion with Luke Pollard MP and Gemma Doyle on life as a lobbyist turned MP and vice versa; an in conversation event with Ben Nunn and Sam Hall on life as political advisers; the Christmas quiz; networking with Hanson Search on what’s next for politics and public affairs; several ‘Coffee and Coaching’ sessions during the coronavirus lockdown with Lindsay Paterson, and a partnership with Women in Public Affairs for our conversation with Fay Jones MP and Nadia Whittome MP.

I strongly believe that NextGen PA has achieved the objectives we set ourselves and I am hugely grateful to my fellow Committee members who made it all happen and who will continue to champion those new to our industry. I wish my successor, friend and brilliant consultant Lizzy Cryar the best of luck, and look forward to working with her and the rest of the Committee going forward!