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.
Delegation builds better workplaces. Don’t believe me? Walk into a place where there’s frustrated staff, an uncertain atmosphere and low productivity and most likely you’ll find a boss making every decision, having all the ideas and insisting people work within strict limits.
Delegating is crucial for government, agency and not for profit PR leaders whether they manage small teams or large outfits.
PR teams routinely juggle competing deadlines and multiple projects. That’s true for other disciplines but uncertainty and crisis are never far away from the PR professional. Plus there’s always a campaign in play, about to start or wrapping up.
When PR leaders start saying ‘we tried that and it didn’t work’ they become the barrier to innovation.
The longer you lead a communications team the danger grows that you default automatically to what’s worked in the past. Of course the past is where your successes lie but it becomes a problem when it stifles the creativity of your staff and fails you for the future.
That’s why good PR leaders are always thought leaders with the habit of spotting the trends likely to impact their organisations, teams, even their own careers.
Leaders have little time so if you’re just surviving the working week how do you find space to think beyond your inbox?
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.
In 1947 Australia’s banks launched a PR campaign against Prime Minister Ben Chifley.
This article first appeared in the Canberra Times, The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.
You can almost hear the ghost of Prime Minister Ben Chifley applauding Bill Shorten’s calls for a Royal Commission into Australian banking.
Yet while Chifley might approve Shorten’s efforts he would probably think they do not go far enough. In 1947 Chifley, the train driver turned politician, led a Labor Government that legislated to nationalise Australia’s banks. In doing he triggered one of the largest public relations campaigns in Australian history, one that finally led to the defeat of his Government.
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.
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.
A media release from Prime Minister Ben Chifley was among the most damaging in Australian history
Recently a strong community backlash forced the cancellation of a scheme to put black-clad officers of Australian Border Force on Melbourne streets checking visas.
The Government reacted by saying it was a big misunderstanding and named the culprit – a poorly worded media release cleared at a ‘low level in the organisation’.
Border Force media release – right thing but the wrong way
This media release did all what media releases are supposed to do. It captured attention. Unfortunately it was the wrong sort of attention and spiraled off into a media and social media storm, street protests and public ridicule for Border Force.
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.
Today content marketing is all the buzz but its origins go back to 1917 and a newspaper man named George Creel.
America dons khaki
When the the Unites States declared war on Germany in April 1917, the Allied Powers had been fighting since 1914. America mobilised over 4 000 000 military personnel and the infusion of American manpower and materiel into Europe changed the course of the war.
Close on 2 000 000 Americans served in France and by November 1918 nearly 10 000 soldiers or doughboys were arriving in France every day. By the end of the War America had suffered 110 000 deaths – almost twice as many as the number of Australians who died in that brutal conflict.