Clarity is proud to offer fearless, full-funnel marketing and communications consultancy to the world’s most progressive companies. We’re able to do this so successfully because we hire sharp-minded specialists from around the world that provide best-of-the-best services to our clients, as well as continuously upskilling our team on the latest industry developments and how we can integrate that into our work.
You may have caught our last ‘Five Minutes With…’ specialist Q&A with our Measurement and Impact lead, Phil Wade (if you didn’t, never fear; you can catch it here). Today, we’re excited to chat with Nick Lansman, President of our Public Affairs team, based in London. Nick founded one of Clarity’s most recent acquisitions, Political Intelligence UK, one of Europe’s longest-established and most influential public affairs agencies, and now continues to lead Clarity’s public affairs team. Over to you, Nick!
What’s your elevator pitch for what the Public Affairs team offers?
Public affairs should be front and center when organizations are considering their strategic ambitions. Why? Because so much is impacted by what happens in politics, and how legislation and regulation is drafted and then implemented.
At Clarity, we have a very experienced team of advisers that understand how to navigate the political landscape, and achieve real policy impact. This includes knowing who the key influencers are, whether they’re in government, opposition parties, think tanks, or are department officials and members of the media.
We provide early warning intelligence to ensure clients are not blind-sided by regulation; We then work with them to develop strategies that achieve targeted outcomes, with the right tactics employed at the right time. These include messaging development that will resonate with politicians and their advisers, alongside mapping out key stakeholders ahead of engagement. We also frequently organize events in the UK Parliament, from high level lunches and dinners, to all day conferences with Secretaries of State delivering keynotes. The most effective public affairs takes smart preparation – we help clients build the fire engine before the fire can take place!
What does your team do that drives the most impact for clients?
Impact is precisely what we are looking for in the political space: to shape policy and create an environment where our clients’ businesses can thrive. But organizations are all different, some experienced at engaging with the policy process, others just dipping their toes in the water. So we always customize our services to clients’ specific needs, whether that’s upskilling them so they feel confident meeting senior politicians, or preparing them thoroughly for select committee oral evidence sessions.
Quick wins are possible in public affairs, but the greatest impact comes from putting in the hard graft. A meeting with the Minister may sound like it will drive impact, but to maximize the opportunity you need to get the civil servant on side too! Meeting with Committee chairs, All party groups, and developing champions and passionate advocates in Parliament are all imperative elements of achieving public affairs goals.
What work have you done recently that you’re really proud of?
We are proud to be doing some fabulous work that’s driving real impact in a number of areas. In the HealthTech space we’re currently working with a client to change the patient pathway for people with Glaucoma. We organized a parliamentary roundtable of key opinion leaders from the NHS (the UK’s National Health Service), parliament, and industry which has led to the development of a report with some recommendations supporting the use of innovative technology that can arrest the progression of Glaucoma and prevent blindness.
As well, we’re very proud of our sustainability work in the area of solar power which is focused on making the case that solar should be part of the UK’s energy generation mix to ensure the country meets its net zero targets. We’ve been working with a client on key messaging which we’re pleased to report has been resonating at the very top of government, and across Parliament.
How does Public Affairs fit into an integrated strategy?
We have developed an “IMPACT” model for integrating Public Affairs into all communications strategies; it’s simple but effective!
Identify the challenges and opportunities in our clients’ operating environment, i.e., where what they do intersects with the world of policy and politics.
Then, we Model how the operating environment can shift to achieve firms’ business objectives.
Next, we work with clients to Plan a clear and purposeful strategy; this is where we integrate the service offering, working out the required mix of public affairs, media, and other comms and marketing activities to drive impact against the business objectives.
Then we Activate the campaign. There’s a well known military adage, “plans rarely survive contact with the enemy,” and similarly we need to be prepared to adapt to political developments (whether that’s a cabinet reshuffle, a budget announcement, or a general election) and Challenge what we are doing to dial up, and down, the respective disciplines when needed.
Finally we Test periodically to measure the outcomes and objectives are being met. Depending on which element of the campaign we’re working with, this can sometimes feel like more of an art than a science, but if the right marketing, communications, and public affairs levers are used at the right time, and being measured and adapted consistently, real positive change can be achieved.
Can you give us a whistle stop tour of who is who in the Public Affairs team?
Phil Reid, Partner – Public Affairs, has over 15 years of government affairs experience and is responsible for the day-to-day management of our public affairs team. He has designed and implemented numerous public affairs campaigns, which have successfully engaged with Westminster, Whitehall, European institutions and wider stakeholders
Till Sommer, Vice President – Public Affairs, has been involved in public affairs since 2010. He is an expert in developing and executing public affairs strategies that are grounded in policy analysis. Day-to-day, he focuses on providing strategic and messaging advice to clients, and acts as the Head of Policy for ISPA, the UK Internet Services Providers’ Association. He is also the brains behind the IMPACT model described above.
Andrew Kernahan, Vice President – Public Affairs,, has more than 15 years’ experience in public affairs and has developed and led campaigns for a range of companies and organizations. An expert in telecoms and the internet, Andrew has developed policy and positioning on issues as diverse as cybersecurity, broadband, online safety and internet regulation. He also leads the secretariat for the ISPA.
Louise Kitchingham, Vice President – Public Affairs, has spent the majority of her career in the healthcare sector bringing several medical devices and medications to patients globally, and shaping patient pathways. She has worked on behalf of several big pharma companies including, Sanofi, BMS, Boeringer Ingelheim, GSK and Janssen, as well as for firms specializing in medical devices, health apps, ophthalmology, robotics, dermatology, oncology, gastroenterology ,and rare diseases.
Ellie Kearney, Account Director – Public Affairs has been focussed on clients in the HealthTech sector since 2018 covering ophthalmology, cardiology, orthopedics, and wound care. She leads the work of the Health Tech Alliance (HTA), a grouping that brings HealthTech companies into partnership with NHS bodies to improve the take up of MedTech innovation in the UK.
Finally, Crea O’Hanlon, Senior Account Manager – Public Affairs has over five years’ experience advising highly regulated industries, and diverse blue-chip companies. Prior to this, Crea worked in the Embassy of Ireland in London, advising UK and Irish firms on Brexit preparedness, as well as speechwriting for the Ambassador. Crea also leads the Transatlantic Cyber Security Business Network (TCBN), a coalition of UK and US cybersecurity companies and stakeholders, supporting the transatlantic relationship on cybersecurity.
Tell us about YOU! How did you get to where you are today?
Having studied Economics at Manchester University, I started out working for the European Commission in London, and then in Spain. In 1991 I was part of a small team of people from the European Commission and the Netherlands embassy coordinating the press and media arrangements for the G7 Summit in London. It all went smoothly so we were invited to Downing Street for drinks to be thanked in person by the then Prime Minister, John Major. I had a slightly surreal conversation with his wife Norma, who revealed that as her husband had yet to win a General Election, she wasn’t allowed to redecorate Number 10 (the home of the UK Prime Minister) – which meant putting up with Margaret Thatcher’s taste in curtains.
The photos above are interesting; they capture perfectly the diplomatic issues at the time. Ruud Lubbers (top right), the then PM of Netherlands was not strictly part of the G7 but had a joint seat with the EU President Jacque Delors (top left in this photo) as the Dutch held the presidency of the European Union that year. John Major was the perfect host but in the end the German Chancellor Helmut Kohl took the seat …And smile!
In 1993 I moved into public affairs in Brussels, and then in 1995 I returned to London to set up my own public affairs consultancy firm, Political Intelligence. We soon expanded into other cities, including Brussels and Madrid, and specialized in technology, health, and energy. Along the way we established several successful trade associations in the internet, telecoms, HealthTech, cyber and InsurTech sectors, including EuroISPA, the European Internet trade association, in 1997 which continues to represent the Internet industry at an EU level. After 27 years, Political Intelligence UK was acquired by Clarity at the end of 2022, and the exciting journey continues!
Finally, a fun one – what’s the most fearless thing you’ve ever done?
Agreeing to dress up as a pirate and organizing a treasure hunt for 24 five year olds at my son’s birthday party recently. It was carnage… but fun!
Find out more about our public affairs offering here, and if you want to chat with Nick directly, contact us here.
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