Directory of the Top EU Public Affairs Consultants – Methodology and Approach.
Some in-house public affairs practitioners outsource more than half of their workload to outside advisers, so the ethics, professionalism and know-how of their advisers are key to how a public affairs team — and an entire organisation — are perceived by the EU institutions and important stakeholders. Choosing the Best in Brussels is therefore a critical decision for any organisation with important reputational, regulatory and political implications.
The Transparency Register is a great tool to look at key metrics for consultancies such as staff numbers, client budgets, EP passes. Indeed we updated the Top 75 Consultancy list in February 2021 to reflect the availability of new data and the updated situation of some consultancies. Notably Integrity Watch from Transparency International is an excellent user-friendly interactive database that provides an overview of the lobby meetings of the European Commission since December 2014. However, such tools are indicative only and they do not provide a complete picture.
In our first Guide we laid out the Methodology in deciding who featured here. In determining our Top EU Public Affairs Consultancies we assessed firms according to six key indicators:
1. Client retention;
2. Staff retention;
3. Robust leadership;
4. Industry recognition;
5. Best-in-class practices; and
6. ‘Buzz’ backed up by substance.
There are some parallels in how we assessed consultancies and Consultants, but also important differences in how we view individual attributes over collective performance, explained more fully in the next section summarized in the graphic below:.
Nomination for the Directory of the Top EU Public Affairs Consultants follows a careful analysis of the leading firms and individuals recommended to us by clients, colleagues and peers.
Firstly, we looked with fresh eyes in June 2019 at the leading consultancies as determined by staff numbers and other criteria. It is logical to nominate the leaders of the leading EU Public Affairs Consultancies where you would expect to find the Top EU Public Affairs Consultants. So with few exceptions that is what we did. We have not yet focussed on the up-and-coming stars with less years of experience. Nor did we look at the small sole-trader sector. Rather, the Directory focuses on the current top senior tier of Consultants who are typically driving their client’s agendas, and in key leadership positions in their respective firms.
Secondly, we asked over one hundred trusted consultancy leaders, association leaders and corporate affairs executives who they would nominate as Top EU Public Affairs Consultants. We even got feedback from current and former politicians. For example, one former MEP recommended somebody with these words: “I knew her from the days when she would lobby me as an MEP, and she certainly stood out as an effective advocate on behalf of her clients – unlike many other lobbyists I met!”
Thirdly, we started to form BestinBrussels.eu In-house Panels in key sectors such as Digital Services, Healthcare and Financial Services and we asked the clients themselves who they rate highly in their respective areas.
Fourthly, we announced this exercise and posted part of this methodology on LinkedIn, inviting feedback which resulted in more names and recommendations, as well as some amazing lobbying campaigns for individuals to be included which in one case was successful!
Finally, once we had a comprehensive list of hundreds of names, we reduced the list to 150 Top EU PA Consultants by putting them against six key criteria laid out below. In determining the Directory the Top Consultants typically scored highly in all, or nearly all, of these aspects.