The elevation of professional communication: GA chair shares eight highlights from two years of global collaboration
The world and its challenges often seem dauntingly large. For public relations and communication professionals, it’s often hard to find time to look beyond our daily work or national borders, particularly in times of overwhelming information, changing stakeholder expectations and formidable economic, social and environmental challenges.
In other ways, the world is small. While professionals work in hundreds of countries, cultures and contexts, our challenges and opportunities are similar: bringing our professional skills, knowledge and ethical principles to the task of enhancing mutual understanding between the organizations we represent and their publics – for mutual benefit.
This paradox – the diversity of our community and the similarity of our challenges – is what makes the Global Alliance’s mission both ambitious and important: to raise standards in public relations; to share knowledge for the benefit of professionals in every country; to strengthen our professional associations; and to be a global voice for public relations in the public interest.
In looking back on my two years as Global Alliance chair, I’m struck by how our members have bridged the distances of both geographic and professional territory. Here are eight highlights worth noting:
- A new global “mandate” for PR: Following a year of research and dialogue, GA members from 30 countries endorsed the Melbourne Mandate at the 2012 World Public Relations Forum in Australia. The Mandate was embraced by professionals and academics as an ambitious yet practical description of modern public relations at its best: a profession that helps organizations define their character and values, build cultures of listening and engagement, and execute their responsibilities to society. The next step is to make it even more relevant to the day-to-day work of professionals everywhere through a toolkit to guide conversations in organizations, and to help each of us plan our professional development.
- World Public Relations Forum: In addition to its legacy for the profession, the GA’s Seventh WPRF will be remembered for many other milestones: the first in the Asia-Pacific region; the first featuring an Academic Colloquium; the largest event in GA history, with more than 800 delegates from 30 countries; and the first to earn #1 trending-topic status on Twitter! It was also the first time we had selected the next WPRF host before the conference ended: Melbourne set the bar high for Madrid, where we will gather from September 21-23, 2014 to explore the theme of Communication with conscience.
- An evolution in corporate reporting: The Global Alliance was proud to work with the International Integrated Reporting Council in developing a new framework for corporate reporting. Building on today’s financial and sustainability reports, integrated reporting presents an organization’s strategy, governance, performance and prospects within its full commercial, social and environmental context to give shareholders and stakeholders a truer picture of how the organization creates value over time. Following a 90-day consultation period that ends in July, the working group will review the feedback and produce a final framework by the end of 2013.
- Excellence in corporate communication: With the financial support of Enel, the GA undertook a study of best practices in communication at nine major multinational companies, emerging with powerful findings about the role and value of PR in today’s global organizations. We aim to continue to engage some of the world’s largest and most respected companies in exploring the keys to building trust through communication excellence.
- Global GAP study: The GA and the University of Southern California have embarked on the world’s first ongoing study of public relations practice, building on USC’s GAP (Generally Accepted Practices) study conducted every two years in the U.S. since 2002. The combination of USC’s model and the GA’s global network will enable the analysis of current practice, trends and new developments, providing country data and comparative analysis between countries and continents. We aim to begin fieldwork in the first countries in late 2013.
- Global Alliance COMM PRIX Awards: To deliver more value to our member associations and individual professionals and academics, the GA launched its first awards program – a “best of the best” global competition for those who have already earned awards from their national or international associations, and for academics with exceptional teaching case studies. We will accept entries until the end of September, and will announce the first award winners in November.
- Research, measurement and evaluation: The GA joined with the Institute for Public Relations (IPR), the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) and other partners in a coalition focused on one of our profession’s most cherished objectives: developing universal standards in research, measurement and evaluation. This work holds tremendous promise, with prototype standards now emerging for global discussion and refinement.
- GA growth and sustainability: In 2012, we achieved a 23 per cent increase in GA membership, significant growth in the GA’s net financial assets, and growing success in the monetization of the GA’s key assets: the licensing of the World Public Relations Forum brand (with significant mutual financial benefit for the GA and the host country) and the judicious use of advertising and sponsorship leveraging the growing traffic generated through the GA’s e-newsletter (circulation: 32,000), website and social platforms. This helps to fund our research and knowledge-sharing programs, reduces our reliance on member dues and enables our professional staff to deliver more value. We have also opened up GA membership to academic institutions, strengthening the critical bridge to the educational and research communities.
It has been an extraordinary privilege serving as Global Alliance chair. The GA has enabled me to participate in events in 22 countries on six continents, to serve with an exceptional board of senior PR leaders, to work with a dedicated professional team at our headquarters in Switzerland, and to listen to and learn with professionals all over the world.
My friends know that I am fond of a certain African proverb: If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together. In a world that can seem both dauntingly large and surprisingly small, it’s a journey our profession continues to make together -- with ever-greater collaboration, commitment and confidence.
Daniel Tisch, APR, Fellow CPRS
Chair, Global Alliance, 2011-2013