The Head of Public Affairs at the law firm BDB Pitmans, Stuart Thomson, offers his suggestions on how to best use the additional time we have when working from home, to further our personal development.
The time that we now all have working from home can be used productively. We have the ‘day job’ to be getting on with, but we should think about personal development as well. And what better way than reading a book or two!
Working from home can be quite challenging and there is a real danger of simply being sat staring at a screen all day. So, one way that you could choose to bring a bit of useful variety into your set-up is to put some time aside each day to read.
While I am sure that you have a stack of fiction books to get through, there are some really useful non-fiction titles out there for your personal development as well. This applies across the whole of the communications profession but I’ll stick to public affairs!
So, here are a few thoughts that I’ve had about some useful public affairs reading:
- The systems and processes – books on political processes can often be really quite dull and technical. However, take a look at Besly and Goldsmith’s ‘How Parliament Works’ for a good guide to the Westminster parliament. The Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly both have good online guides.
- Campaigns and strategies – I can’t rate the materials freely available on the Government Communications Service highly enough. There is everything from evaluation to digital communications and the OASIS framework for campaign planning.
- How To Guides – there aren’t many ‘how to’ guides available covering public affairs. The most comprehensive ones are probably Lionel Zetter’s ‘The Art of Political Persuasion’ and my own ‘Public Affairs in Practice’. Both cover everything from the basics of what public affairs is through to effective engagement and political processes. While ‘Public Affairs in Practice’ is mainly UK and Brussels based, Zetter has an international dimension. If you are interested in how public affairs is done in different countries around the world then my ‘Public Affairs: A Global Perspective’ would be a good starting point.
- Best practice – it is always useful to take a look at the CIPR and PRCA They both have great resources, guides and case studies as well. I’d also suggest taking a look at the training options they have. Both are working on more online courses for obvious reasons, but they have some already available.
- Others – there are also some more general communications books that really help with public affairs. I’d point to Measure What Matters, which gets you thinking about KPIs, Good Strategy / Bad Strategy, with some constructive thoughts that I found useful when starting off with new campaigns, and Words The Work, which helped me to focus even more on every word I write.
If it’s helpful, I have added the books, as well as a few others, to an Amazon page.
It would be great to hear ideas from others about what books they have found useful and maybe why as well. There are no end of really good books available but personal recommendations are always worth just that little bit more.
You’ll have to forgive me a little cross-selling as well but you may also find my regular (and free!) blog useful as well: www.stuartthomson.co.uk.
I look forward to hearing what I should be adding to my book list. Happy reading!