Image: Rusty Crawshaw
PR executives may not be responsible for how other leaders perform but we should call out poor leadership, agitate for leader development and model behaviours others can follow.
Biggest ever survey
Last week the Melbourne-based Centre for Workplace Leadership launched the Study of Australian Leadership, the largest ever survey of its kind in Australia.
The Study looked at the state of leadership and management across the economy. And although it has crucial, nationwide implications it received scant attention probably because the Federal Election is absorbing all attention.
Almost 8,000 people in 2,703 organisations and 2,561 workplaces took part in five surveys including CEOs, HR specialists, midlevel managers, front line leaders and employees.
Image: Rusty Crawshaw
A PR thought leader must be part explorer, advocate and activist – a curious mix that can be a terrific boost to your career.
One of the skills you – the leader – need is the ability to spot trends likely to affect your organisation and team. This applies to all leaders but specially to PR leaders.
Communications, communities and institutions are changing at lighting speed and unless we anticipate the future we can easily find ourselves marooned in present practice with outdated skills and talking to audiences that have long moved on.
Feeling the future
Thought leadership is about preparing your career, your team and your organisation for the future.
Last week I asked 40 communicators to nominate a communicator-leader they admired. The room feel silent and only two people raised their hands. I was stunned. Surely there must be more because PR specialists have leadership skills in profusion.
Recently I presented on the topic of leadership to Australian Government communicators in Canberra. Which got me thinking how PR people in government and business rank when they get the chance to lead. Are PR professionals superior, average or below par when it comes to leading teams and organisations?
Research on the subject of PR leadership is thin. There’s been some American research but scant Australian study.
Efforts in the US State of New York may limit the role of PR plays in grass roots campaigns.
Lobbying is a legitimate part of community communications but often it can look remarkably similar to what public relations professionals do. Many large Australian PR agencies offer ‘government relations’ among their services.
The Australian Government Register of Lobbyists lists many of Australia’s largest PR firms as well as many smaller outfits. From time to time the media scrutinises the actions of lobbyists in particular issues but the fact a (registered) PR professional can approach a government minister or senior bureaucrat on behalf of a client is unquestioned.
Most of us want to be led by someone with vision, energy and purpose but communicators don’t always get the type of bosses they deserve.
Sometimes you find yourself working for a manager who won’t or can’t lead. Maybe they’re fearful for their own career, lazy or just never got the opportunity to learn how to lead. A lot of managers fail to make the transition to leader.
The end result is usually the same. Poor leadership has a dreadful impact on a communications team – it stifles creativity, blunts enthusiasm and turns what should be an adventurous vocation into a job without passion.
(Courtesy: Tech n’ Marketing)
As PR professionals we attend numerous meetings each month. Probably too many for our liking. They can range from plotting a campaign to discussing tactics with your team, a client or colleagues.
You can establish yourself as a PR leader at these gatherings by posing three simple questions and in the process save at lot of time and trouble:
- What are the media and social media implications of our issue?
- Where are the stories?
- Who’s got the images?
At any meeting touching on PR ask those attending two simple questions. ‘How will the media react to our issue’ and ‘can the media tie this topic to something else?’
These inquiries get people thinking about the media implications of the topic on the table, and how to best present it to journalists and through social media channels.
Malcolm Turnbull is promising more open communications
Australia’s new Prime Minister is changing how the Government communicates to Australians. In recent days the slogans that plagued us for the past two years are gone and the tone of Ministers is less shrill. They seem more willing to answer questions and explain policy.
Prime Minister Turnbull has committed his Government to a more open communications style which will be good news for Canberra’s public sector communicators. In recent times they have ‘done it tough’ because the previous Abbott administration centralised information flows, restricted information and closed down dialogue.
Turnbull has been a parliamentary pioneer in social media which probably means agencies will place more focus on digital and social outreach in coming days.
Australian Border Force (ABF) is only weeks old yet its first major public relations effort has been a disaster.
Yesterday a strong community and media backlash quashed plans for Operation Fortitude where ABF officers were to join Victorian Police and other enforcement officers to crack down on anti-social behaviour in Melbourne.
The ABF’s role appears to have been to check on people overstaying visas.
Putting darkly clad public servants on city streets to check immigration papers was never going to be popular. There is no Australian precedent and while compliance raids have taken place for years previously they were targeted at specific, suspected illegalities and announced after the fact.
Recent issues surrounding Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s leadership come down to one word and two questions. The word is ‘trust’ and the questions are simple.
After all the unsettling leadership talk can the Australian public trust Mr Abbott and his government to do the right thing by all sections of the community? Can his own backbench team trust him to act in their interests while pursuing a conservative ideology that has alienated many people.
The public airing of these questions comes as the US-based PR agency Edelman has just released its 2015 Australian Trust Barometer. For the past 15 years Edelman has measured the levels of trust that people around the world have in the institutions that make up the fabric of modern societies – government, business, media and NGOs.