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From the Chair - 2012: The Year of Communication without Control

February 29, 2012


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Time magazine named ‘the protester’ as its person of the year for 2011 — an insight that foreshadows a challenge for every organization on the planet in 2012: never will it be easier for any David to throw any Goliath off stride, and never will organizations be more defined by communication they cannot fully control.


Most of the great protests of 2011 — from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street — were rooted in economic and social distress. But as 2012 dawns, there are tremors of discontent among the increasingly affluent middle classes in rising economies such as those of Russia and China; one of the greatest risks to these regimes will lie in the quality of their communication. When even the U.S. Federal Reserve starts to use communication as an economic management strategy, you know that authorities are starting to get the message. One sees the same challenge in the corporate world: even in times of exceptional economic volatility, there will be both losers and winners.


This is an environment of historic challenge and opportunity for communications professionals. Understanding this global  context -- and equipping professionals to thrive within it -- will animate the Global Alliance’s advocacy agenda for 2012.


Our recent Global Alliance survey shows how the leaders of the world’s major public relations industry associations define the key roles of PR today: applying ethics to communication decisions; researching an organization’s stakeholder environment; engaging stakeholders to define organizational character; developing a genuine listening culture within the organization; and integrating mainstream and social media communications.


We will be considering these and other themes at two key venues this year: the Global Alliance Annual Meeting and South American Conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on April 26-27, and, of course, the World Public Relations Forum this coming in Melbourne, Australia on November 17-20.


Both events – and the many virtual working group meetings that will happen in between -- will provide leaders of our profession with opportunities to raise standards, share knowledge, strengthen associations and speak with one voice about the role and value of professional communication in global society in 2012. Whether you can attend or not, we hope you will follow and contribute to these critical dialogues.


2012 will bring plenty of surprises at the organizational, local, national and global levels — titans who will stumble, unknowns who will rise, laggards who will become leaders. While this happens every year, never will it be harder to predict… but communication will convey the clue. As we move ever closer to a world in which global publishing power lies in every person’s pocket, the punishment for failing to listen, engage, anticipate and respond effectively will be severe; and the rewards for an organization that defines itself through communication will be rich indeed.


Daniel Tisch, APR, Fellow CPRS

Chair, Global Alliance

+01.416.968.7311, extension 223