International Monetary Fund forced to be more transparent and open, says Deputy MD at CIPR Maggie Nally lecture
Dr Nemat Shafik, Deputy Managing Director of IMF was the speaker at this year’s Maggie Nally memorial lecture organised by CIPR International on 7 March in the National Liberal Club in London.
Under the title “Communication, Engagement, and Effective Economic Reform: The IMF Experience,” Nemat Shafik discussed the importance of openness and engagement, and how these lessons are being applied throughout the world.
Core to her presentation was the iRevolution which has transformed the way policy is shaped and the communication strategy. Instead of the old pyramid of authority, the new “diamond of influence” means the IMF reaches out to much broader constituencies than before, which transcend geographical and political borders.
The rise of the virtual middle class has led to a tectonic shift in behaviour. But this hyper-democratic world opened up risks, especially for organisations such as the IMF, traditionally unused to dealing with any stakeholders other than governments.
Gone are the days, Dr Shafik said, when all documents were confidential and the teams never spoke to the press. The IMF learned some hard lessons around the world and now fully acknowledges the role of communication which has to be an essential and early partner in policy development.
Consistent messages and their co-ordination with IMF’s partners are extremely important. Maintaining message disciple can be hard but avoiding a cacophony of messages is key during a crisis.
“One lesson we cannot ignore is that we need to listen and reach out to make sure people understand what we are trying to achieve,” observed Dr Shafik. “Communication is a two-way street. Thomas Friedman put it well in his book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree: ‘No policy is sustainable without a public that broadly understands why it’s necessary and sees the world the way you do’.”
Organised annually by CIPR International, the lecture commemorates Maggie Nally, the first female president of CIPR and a committed supported of CIPR International.
Eva Maclaine, chair of CIPR International, said: “Trust and transparency are key issues for today’s PR practitioners. It was fascinating to hear how the IMF has grasped this nettle and is putting communications at the heart of all its work.”
Dr Shafik’s lecture was followed by a lively Q & A. CIPR members, journalists and other guests then joined the deputy managing director of IMF for drinks and dinner.
The full text of Dr Shafik’s speech can be viewed here.
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