Leadership study obliges PR leaders to act

PR execs can  influence other leaders

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. 
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Fine line between PR and lobbying

LobbyistsEfforts in the US State of New York may limit the role of PR plays in grass roots campaigns.

Australian approach

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.
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Trust levels hit new low

For the past 14 years giant PR company, Edelman has surveyed the levels of trust that people around the world have in  government, business, media and NGOs – the institutions that provide the fabric of modern societies.

The 2015 Trust Barometer is alarming, revealing trust has hit lows not seen since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2009. In Australia trust is down for government and business and right now we are seeing the issue of trust play out in the troubles surrounding Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

This 2 minute video summarises global trust levels and what the ‘big end of town’ must do to restore reputation.
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Groupthink kills good PR and marketing

It’s very easy to let ‘groupthink’ infiltrate PR planning.

Cass Sunstein is a Professor of Law at Harvard .

Cass Sunstein is a Professor of Law at Harvard

Statements such as I like something therefore other people must like it too (egocentric bias) can derail communications planning even before it gets properly underway. And a communications leader must be ever alert to the dangers of letting his or her team slip into repetitive patterns and not challenging assumptions.

US legal academic and former Obama official Professor Cass R Sunstein of Harvard University writes:

” People tend to ignore the long term; to be unduly afraid of losses; to display unrealistic optimism; to make self serving judgements: and to deal poorly with risks.
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5 tips for non-PR bosses approving PR plans

What happens when the Communicator-in-Chief lacks a PR or marketing background?

Some time in the new year someone will ask you to endorse your organisation’s communications plans for 2015. Which is fine.  You either manage the communications team or are responsible for its PR campaigns.

The decisions you make will determine how the dollars are spent, the priorities for your staff and, most importantly, how your brand is expressed. Yet you may have no training or imagebackground in communications or be new to the job.

Communications is a top role for CEOs. I’d say along with strategic planning it’s the single most important thing you do! 
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PR struts tall in DC

Fred Cook received the Gold Anvil, PRSA's  highest individual award during the D.C. Conference.

Fred Cook received PRSA’s highest award at the Conference.

The usual bleats about PR were gone

I have just returned from the International Conference of the Public Relations Society of America attended by nearly 3000 PR people of all backgrounds and from all parts of the globe.

A key theme over the four day Washington DC meeting was confidence.

Indeed there was an air of confidence ‘in the room’ as delegates debated, listened and argued about the future of PR. Globally the communications economy is picking up and organisations are more aware than ever of the value effective communications brings to business bottom lines.
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Caveats are killing our communications

The fictional Malcolm Tucker of the UK series 'In the Thick of It' was a master at masking communications

The fictional Malcolm Tucker in the UK series ‘In the Thick of It’ was masterful at manipulating communications

Overusing caveats is one reason trust in government and corporates is disappearing fast 

Today so much official communications is shrouded in caveats and it’s getting harder to separate substance from spin.

Phrases like these are commonly used by spokespeople, ministers and managers to stall media, protect reputations and hide information: We can’t talk about this because the matter is:

  • Before the courts
  • Commercial in confidence
  • Impinges on privacy
  • Involves national security
  • A decision has not been finalised
  • Negotiations are continuing

I’m sure each probably originated for perfectly good reasons, but now they are often the response of first choice and thrown up as barriers and reasons not to communicate.
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