Political lobbyists initiate changes to law and policy at all levels of the political world. They typically work as public affairs consultants on behalf of private companies, charitable organisations or governments, and use their knowledge of current affairs to advise their clients on how to promote and protect their interests.
They act as intermediaries by assisting clients in advancing their interests with politicians and administration at all levels, EU, national, regional and local.
Lobbyists in Ireland can work as ‘public affairs’ specialists in the big public relations companies.
Alterrnatively, they are full-time employees of big organisations who specifically target decision-makers in their field of interest. They include private companies, professional groups such as the chambers of commerce and the Law Society, trade unions and NGOs such as Friends of the Earth and Social Justice Ireland (formally CORI).
- Researching, forecasting, monitoring and evaluating the effects of public policy on an organisation through public sources and political intelligence.
- Counselling clients, assessing cases and helping them to make representations.
- Promoting and protecting organisations' interests through responses at EU, national and local levels, to influence policy decisions both directly and indirectly.
Travel: a frequent part of the working day and absence from home at night will also be also be required. Working hours: can involve long and unpredictable hours including evenings, weekends and public holidays. Location: mainly in larger towns or cities throughout the country.
Opportunities for self-employment: possible.
- Public affairs divisions of major PR firms
- NGOs such as Friends of the Earth and Social Justice Ireland
- Semi-state companies such as ESB
- Professional groups such as the Law Society
- Trade unions.
There is potential for career development. Promotion is usually to senior lobbyist management or self-employment as well as the possibility to transfer between employment sectors. With experience, freelance work may be possible.
Open to non-graduates and graduates of any discipline.
Other relevant degree subjects
- Public administration
- Public relations.
A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not normally a requirement but can be an advantage and shows commitment if taken in an area such as journalism or politics.
Most training takes place on the job.
Skills and qualities
- Knowledge and understanding of political lobbying and public affairs.
- Awareness of current affairs and a passion for finding out new information.
- Knowledge of how communication operates within and across various political, business and public and government contexts and cultures.
- Capacity for critical, analytical and independent thinking.
- Critically reflective skills necessary for continuing professional development.
- Excellent research and project management skills.
- Excellent problem solving skills.
- Self-confidence and ability to network effectively.
- Excellent presentation and IT skills.
- Ability to work on own initiative.
- Ability to work well under pressure.
- Excellent organisational, scheduling and planning skills with the ability to juggle different priorities and meet deadlines.
- Achievement orientated and results driven.
Labour market information
Lobbying is a growing industry and continues to burgeon. It is now a multi-billion euro industry employing tens of thousands of people.