«Today’s world is facing quite a lot of challenges. Probably more than ever before

These challenges require openness to change and a capacity to manage change. This is true for public institutions, businesses, NGOs and citizens alike. Public Affairs and Communications are central in driving and managing change and professionals of both disciplines should think of themselves as “change drivers”.

The EPAC Executive Master aims to equip the next generation of Public Affairs and Communications experts through this dual focused programme. Whether you are looking to start a career in this field or move ahead in your career then this practical programme is for you. At IHECS, our programme is geared towards empowering you to do the job by giving you the practical skills and knowledge you will need. The training covers a wide range of integrated Public Affairs and Communication techniques for professionals who want to work in the EU job market.

First let us clarify what we, at IHECS, mean by “Public Affairs” and “Communications”. Both disciplines are about driving change and engaging with different audiences to do this – and they both use a number of similar techniques and skills. They both create and execute strategies. They both build or nurture connections with their publics. But they pursue different goals on behalf of different clients and with different targets in mind.

Public Affairs professionals have a narrower field of vision. They aim to influence public policy and government action by interacting directly within the circles of power and decision-making. When they advocate for, or against, the passage of legislation, create support or opposition regarding matters of public policy they do so by working directly with those taking the decisions. This is how most big companies, industry federations or a number of international NGOs operate. Public Affairs has a reduced target audience in view:  mainly policy makers and elected politicians. Successful Public Affairs is done through structured preparation and targeted outreach – using different forms of communication and engagement materials depending on the circumstances. Public Affairs is all about setting clear priorities, doing stakeholder mapping, crafting impactful messages and materials and working out how best to engage your key audiences. 

Communication professionals, on the other hand, have a much broader audience in view. They mainly aim at building a positive image for an organization or at promoting public policies or social causes. They do this by trying to foster a greater understanding of the issue and to generate trust with citizens and other stakeholders. In essence Communications is about working with the public more at large in an attempt to drive wider citizen support for some policies or causes. This is most often done by public institutions (in the EU “bubble”, mainly the European Commission and EU agencies) and big NGOs (or EU federations of NGOs). Communications is also sometimes done by businesses or industry federations eager to build connections with citizens around “societal issues”. Communication experts use a broad range of integrated communication techniques to reach out to their broad audiences: conducting media relations, executing digital or social media strategies, organizing public events, mobilizing opinion leaders and social partners, running websites, producing videos in a variety of formats, placing paid advertisements or posters, etc.

The unique value of the EPAC programme is that it equips students with both sets of techniques, from Public Affairs and Communications. This duality increases the range of career opportunities and builds a more rounded professional for the evolving EU Public Affairs and Communications job market as the borders between the two increasingly blur.

 

Laura Leprêtre, Programme Coordinator