Should corporate communications get involved in ‘the big’ issues?
Looking at what is going on in our world and in our society today there is a growing unease with the political powers, big corporate structures, and mass globalism. I believe that PR consultants and corporate communications directors are good ‘public antenna’ for many companies and they should be listened to more by organisations trying to understand the mood of a nation and how they should respond.
For any PR consultant it is worth us being able to explain to our colleagues or clients how we can make a difference to an organisation’s reputation – as well as helping to explain what PR cannot do.
Companies are now expected to have a much greater stance on world inequalities and ethical issues. As reputation managers, PR consultants are often aware of how these trends impact the reputation of a company, no matter how big or small, but I can’t help wondering how often they are listened to?
Good PR should have a finger in every part of the company pie from customer service, employee communications and sales. A corporate communication director or PR director who is plugged into every aspect on an organisations culture will be able to offer better advice on how changes in the outside world are impacting a company and where it needs to start to make a difference.
Consumers no longer just want to consume; they are now conscience decision makers in their purchases and are making greater ethical based decisions about what they buy and how they live their lives. Companies not only need to be aware of these trends but making future company decisions based on them.
For example, it is heartening to see the number of financial services companies who now offer ethical investment and banking solutions as a core offering because it is the right thing to do rather than as a token gesture.
The mistake some companies seem to be making now is using PR as a sticking plaster rather than making the changes needed to their company. Big issues are not something a company can pretend to do for a PR stunt; they will quickly come unstuck.
Instead a good PR strategy is about determining how an organisation positions itself in the current external environment to better understand the nature and pace of change in the world and what its clients are expecting of it; and identify potential opportunities, challenges and likely future developments relevant to its organisation. It is time we all started having the big conversations.