cyclone of change blows in 2023
Well the start of 2023 has certainly been a blast here in New Zealand with Cyclone Hale wreaking havoc around the coast and adding to the woes of what has been billed the worst summer in nearly twenty years. As I write, people on the East Coast are still without power, the road network needs massive reinstatement and it has been - literally - a washout of a summer.
Personally, this local example of climate change has moved me off the beach - which is where I had hoped to be - and into a cosy chair for my brief holiday break, distracted with some reading (once we got power and services back on and dealt with the waterlogging).
Professionally, most conversations have been concerned with ChatGPT, its power, ability and general cleverness. The big 'miss' has been the conversation we need to have around ethical application. That's the first chat on the agenda. The second is the impact it will have on our profession. There's no doubt that it has come for the jobs but only if public relations and communications professionals fail to elevate their undertaking from the tactical to the strategic. And only if organisations realise the automation of content may look easy and save them a few bucks (for now) but without context or direction, automation will lead to their demise, huge reputational damage and a disconnection from their stakeholders and communities.
I've spent the last week or so whipping up a professional development session that I hope will help practitioners understand not just what is on the horizon but what is knocking at the door ready to eat their lunch. I'll post the links here next week when (hopefully) it will be ready to go and I'm making it free access because I believe it is essential to encourage practitioners to actively consider and understand what lies ahead for their organisations and themselves. Meanwhile, I suggest you read this year's edition of the World Economic Forum's Global Risk Report (gloomy but essential New Year reading) and determine how you'll be making a difference in the months ahead -mand what you need to learn to help you make that difference.
strategy or tactics? make your move
It's been strategy and evaluation week here at PR Knowledge Hub and during the daily sessions delegates have spoken at length about the challenges they face in their organisations. Very often, the same problem surfaces - practitioners pushed into the tactical, reacting or being 'ordered' to do something rather than guiding the organisational actions and working to a clear strategy.
This fundamental problem always sees me turn to a quote attributed to George Bernard Shaw - 'the single biggest problem with communication is the illusion it has taken place'.
Time and again, organisations (of all types) believe that by sending out stuff - be it media releases, social media updates, newletters and all the other forms 'stuff' takes - they have effectively communicated with 'the public'. They fail to realise that 'the public' as an individual entity doesn't' exist and that the 'stuff' they are sending won't be seen, heard, read or reacted to. Why? Because it is a tactical response. Because the 'stuff' isn't tied to outcomes. Because there is no strategy in place.
All public relations and communication programmes should be part of an overarching strategy that supports the business or organisational outcomes. Public relations strategies should be concerned with the relationships, the licence to operate, the ethical behaviours of the organisation - which is a long way away from simply actioning a list of stuff to send out.
Practitioners must make the move from tacticians to strategists. In old-fashioned organisations with entrenched hierarchical leadership this can be a hard move to make - and if you are finding it tough, give me a call. I've a course that's perfect for you.
In a world turned upside down, how do you develop strategies to navigate uncertain times? How do you develop strategic relationships that will help you survive and thrive in times of global recession? Available early July, our new course, Navigators, gives you the opportunity to find out how.
I've been looking ahead these last few months and, as we have slowly worked our way through lockdowns, dramatic societal change and new ways of operating, I've had the privilege and opportunity to guide fellow practitioners through the twists and turns of strategy development, examining some of the changes we face and how best to meet them.
We must constantly challenge ourselves to explore new approaches and new thinking so we can help our organisations make sense of what's ahead and maintain the relationships they need to maintain their licence to operate. Understanding the process, looking beyond the tactical - the 'sending out stuff' - is critical if our discipline is to remain relevant.
I hope you'll find this guided professional development session both useful and informative. Old rules don't apply - take some time to navigate the new ones.
About Think Forward
Think Forward is written by Catherine Arrow. It answers PR questions, highlights practice trends - good and bad - and suggests ways forward for professional public relations and communication practitioners.