Conscious that we are in the middle of a major shift
by José Manuel Velasco, President of Dircom
This September, the Spanish Association of Communication Directors, Dircom, is set to host the 2014 World Public Relations Forum, the eighth gathering promoted by the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management, the world federation of communication organisations of which Dircom is part.
The theme of the congress is “Communication with conscience”, a straightforward way to appeal to the responsibility of communicators on two fronts. The first is that our mission has moved on from creating messages based on decisions that have already been made to seeking responses to the questions asked by stakeholders or to those which may be posed regarding the activities performed by an organisation. And the second, of even greater importance due to its impact on the future of the profession, is that, for the first time ever in the history of our work, we now have the chance to drive change in our respective organisations.
Communication professionals are at the centre of a new scenario, the most defining feature of which is the unlimited ability of individuals to communicate, the opportunity that everyone has for self-sufficiency in what, back in 2000, Peter Drucker was already referring to as a far wider-reaching revolution than the Internet or ecommerce.
This development, which places the power of communication with the individual rather than the group, is the result of the confluence of telecommunications and computer technology, the father of the new era in information systems.
We have to be aware of this great opportunity so that future generations of communicators will no longer see a need to champion the strategic importance of the profession because communication will already be an intrinsic criterion in management processes, particularly in businesses. This challenge involves both developing the strategic side of the function and managing the transition between the conventions which have governed –and to a large degree still govern the relationships of economic and political power, and the new reality that is taking shape in the digital arena.
Backing strategy, without abandoning the tactic of falling back on profit and loss sheets, means looking beyond local or sector-centred problems and addressing global issues. As global managers, we have to seek responses from our organisations to challenges which, despite being of a worldwide magnitude, influence or will influence decisions, behaviour and strategies. This is already happening with environmental matters, followed not far behind by social (the effects of growing inequality, even in developed countries) and technological issues. You only get answers if you ask questions. The time has come to ask whether this foundling profession is sufficiently prepared to become one of the most strategic professions. Let us be unassuming in our reply, in such a way that if we are not sure of our readiness, we may follow the course of training, the road of experience and the path of learning.
The World Public Relations Forum will provide a magnificent opportunity to set off in the right direction and, for the first time ever, Spanish communicators will be there on the same starting line as professionals all over the world.