The role of public affairs in student NGOs

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Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Member of the EC © European Union , 2017 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: Lukasz Kobus

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Giorgio Sleiter, the current Treasurer of the European Confederation of Junior Enterprises (JADE) for the 2017/2018 term (JADE). The opinion expressed in this piece belongs to the writer and does not necessarily reflect The European Sting’s one.

Communication is at the basis of everything. The ability to employ this skill is what enables interaction between individuals, driving relationships and influencing motivations. Most importantly, it generates significant changes in our society. In the business environment, successful and effective communication contributes significantly to the success of a company.

Consequently, bad communication effects the downfall of great businesses. In the political sphere, it facilitates the creation of treaties and democratic exchanges; hence it is vital in the preservation of peace and avoidance of disputes. To some extent, either directly or indirectly, public affairs actively influence all the aforementioned cases.

So, what is public affairs?

It would be diminutive and over-simplifying to confine this term to one definition. It certainly plays a pivotal role in politics by mediating the correspondence between a given society’s representatives and its stakeholders. This is evident by observing events and lobbying to media management and monitoring, from political marketing to informing stakeholders. The element of fundamental importance making all these practices possible is communication.

Public affairs today are engendered by communication, especially so, for youth non-governmental organisations (NGOs).  This network of people, while typically working for a noble cause, often fall short with regards to raising awareness and generating recognition. This has caused the failure of several organisations and many stakeholders from public institutions to be misheard.

However, in the last decade a variety of student NGOs were presented with the chance to be heard and recognized, beginning at European level. This is owed to the increase of communication between youth NGOs and public institutions, highlighting the benefits of giving the youth a voice and most importantly, taking their opinions into account. This is exemplified for instance by JADE (European Confederation of Junior Enterprises), who kick-started their public affairs journey by finding points of collaboration with various DGs in the Commission.

These collaborations gave rise to more opportunities, for example the chance to invite distinguished public figures to international events. Furthermore, with the effective utilization of social media and its increasing influence on society, the organisation’s profile raised, advertising its core aim to bridge the gap between the academia and the business environment.

How are student NGOs able to share the voice of students to the ears of public institutions?

The European Commission works closely with these organisations and in some cases, they are invited to participate in expert groups in such as entrepreneurship education, youth unemployment, skills development and non-formal education, but why?

Student organisations often possess a bottom-up structure, enabling concerns raised from the bottom to be identified and addressed at the top of the “pyramid”. Such a dynamic in the flow of information, is the driving force allowing Executive Boards to represent the movement fairly, transparently and clearly.

About the author

Giorgio Sleiter is the current Treasurer of JADE for the 2017/2018 term and personally oversees the departments of Finance, Public Affairs, and Training. He is a student at University of Westminster (London), pursuing a Bachelor in International Business, and currently in his full-time work placement until July 2018. Before joining JADE, Giorgio was a Senior Consultant at his Junior Enterprise as well as President of the “Westminster Stock Trading Union”, a student society aimed at developing students wishing to enter the banking sector. In the corporate field, he pursued an internship at Pacific Asset Management, an investment banking firm located in Shanghai, China.

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