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Public Affairs Definition from the Inside: An Interview with Taylor Connolly

A public affairs strategy is a smart approach when a business or organization seeks to influence public policy that impacts its business objectives; build a diverse coalition of support for an initiative; and establish relationships with industry influencers and community members. By combining community outreach, earned media, and thought leadership, your message—and therefore visibility, objectives, and network—can grow and become even more impactful.

Castle Senior Director of Public Affairs, Taylor Connolly, has extensive experience leading public affairs and external engagement strategies. For an insider point of view, I spoke with Taylor about how her background in government, policy communications, and stakeholder engagement adds depth to our agency team and offers new insight and expertise for our clients. 

What was your day-to-day like in government public affairs?

For nearly seven years at Boston’s City Hall, my day-to-day focus was on creating ways to effectively communicate to residents and the business community regarding economic development, climate communications, and community engagement—from climate action resources to workforce opportunities to neighborhood development. I picked up skills on the job, learned by doing, and enjoyed the entrepreneurial nature of creating new partnerships, programs, and engagement tools. Just like my role at Castle, each day brings a new challenge and opportunity to learn.

What interested you about working in the public sector? 

Public service runs in my family. My father was in politics and government for more than 35 years, so civic participation has been encouraged throughout my lifetime. I have deep respect for those who are passionate about serving their neighbors. I’ve learned ways to serve my community and how government works—and impacts—all facets of our lives. My upbringing helped to inform my communications career. My experience working with and within government solidified my interest in how public policy and private business impact one another.

What is it like leading public affairs and communications for a government agency?

There are limited resources and capacity in government communications, so I had to learn all facets of communications methods and platforms—and be nimble. I’d go from designing a communications plan and social media strategy to managing website content to writing speeches and talking points for a public event. Collaboration is key. It’s crucial to work with relevant agencies, partners, and third-party validators to elevate a particular message and reach larger, more diverse audiences. I hone these skills at Castle every day.

When should a client incorporate public affairs into their communications strategy?

A public affairs approach may not be right for every client. Before you start down that road, be clear about what you’re trying to accomplish. Are there relationships you want to build? Do you want to grow your business in a certain area? Are you looking to expand your corporate social responsibility initiatives? Be a leading voice on a policy—or simply weigh in? Any of these goals might be worth building a public affairs strategy to support. It always depends on the client and their specific needs.

Want to learn more about public affairs strategy? Castle Group has you covered! 

Sometimes it helps to just talk through the issue to decide whether a public affairs strategy is the best approach. Contact Castle’s Senior Director of Public Affairs, Taylor Connelly, to set up a discovery call.

The Castle Group, Assistant Account Executive, Public Relations, Kenna McCafferty
Written By: Kenna McCafferty

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