The transitions of the past two decades – from 9/11 to the Iraq War to the 2008 financial crash to the rise of austerity – each represented a fundamental change in international politics and economics. Astonishingly, they almost pale in comparison to the upheaval of the past two years that has resulted in ‘another new world order’.
The ascendancy of populism in the West…the rise of new powers…the re-alignment of old alliances such as the G7…a new willingness to ignore international precedents. They have all produced a level of uncertainty and instability not seen in generations. And it’s only just beginning. Trade battles, new forms of cyber-warfare, and disputes between national governments and multinational bodies will only get hotter.
Equally important, the evolution of communications has resulted in a new environment to influence opinions, shape policy and affect international decisions.
Governments, multilateral bodies and NGOs are campaigning in new ways, using high-level influence, digital and social persuasion and grassroots mobilisation to achieve political, security and economic goals. They are all compelled to promote and protect their interests more vigorously than ever, just to keep pace in this shifting landscape, attempting to maintain trust and credibility with their stakeholders but facing others who don’t ‘play by the rules’.
Our International Affairs offering is not a reaction to this new environment, but a recognition of the need to get ahead of it.
With political, diplomatic, humanitarian and economic issues more intertwined than ever, and decision makers, activists, media and grassroots audiences shouting ever louder, the old ways of communicating need to evolve. Agendas are no longer just top-down, particularly given the rise in populism. For governments and international organisations, this means the traditional silos and ways of working of public relations and public affairs agencies can no longer meet their needs.
Our International Affairs unit brings together decades of experience in London and around the world, with specialists who have promoted and protected clients during the most important global moments.
The International Affairs team at FleishmanHillard Fishburn is built around four pillars:
- Country reputation and issues management: Building and protecting reputations for foreign governments, ministries and embassies, using communications to advance their diplomatic, economic or cultural agenda.
- Economic development, investment and trade: Generating inward investment, positioning countries for economic growth and advocating for governments’ interests on trade, including for emerging economies, countries addressing the complications of Brexit and governments reacting to the divergence from rules-based trade.
- Geopolitical challenges: Managing communications around complex geopolitical matters, including international security, defence and disputes, during times of crisis or heightened risk.
- Development and humanitarian causes: Leading campaigns for NGOs and international bodies to strengthen development and address humanitarian and societal challenges, while also showing the return on investment in initiatives that change the world for the better.
Our approach uses a full range of communication tools and channels to develop and implement campaigns. This means we offer global media relations, stakeholder and influencer outreach, public affairs, digital and social media advocacy and creative content, and combine it with in-depth sector knowledge. When clients need support in trade and investment, foreign policy, or humanitarian challenges, we bring together the right experts in business and finance, international security, social causes, crisis management, and country branding.
As we navigate into this new world order, we are confident that the winners will be the governments, multilateral bodies, NGOs and companies that define their own reputation through proactive communications, rather than let others take control of it.
Our International Affairs unit will ensure they succeed.
Michael Hartt, Head of International Affairs
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October 15, 2020