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At the table: Where a communicator needs to be

October 4, 2012

 

There’s a quiet revolution happening in corporate reporting, promising benefits for those who lead organizations, those who invest in them, and those who communicate their stories. It’s called integrated reporting – the presentation of an organization’s strategy, governance, performance and prospects within its full commercial, social and environmental context. The goal: to give shareholders and stakeholders alike a truer picture of how the organization creates value over time.

 

Whether you consider this revolution or simply evolution, it’s a big step forward in rebuilding investor and public confidence in a world still shaken from the global financial crisis and its fiscal and social consequences. This work is being piloted by the International Integrated Reporting Council, which has now developed a prototype framework for these corporate reports of the future.

 

Communicators have a critical role in corporate reporting, and that is why the Global Alliance represents the PR and communication management sector on the IIRC working group guiding the new framework. At the working group’s recent meeting in Amsterdam, I was impressed by both an extraordinary diversity and an extraordinary consensus. Leaders in finance, investment and accounting sat side-by-side with sustainability experts, academics, NGOs and representatives from some of the world’s best-known companies. We reviewed and endorsed a prototype for reporting and heard exciting case studies from organizations that are already putting integrated reporting into action.

 

It was the sort of place where communicators need to be: first, we must be at the table where and when decisions are made, so that we can counsel leaders on the implications of those decisions on their relationships and reputations with their publics. And second, we must lead and manage the communication with those publics – for mutual benefit.

 

Having encountered public relations professionals on every continent – most recently at the wonderful CONFIARP conference in Mexico last week -- I hear a growing consensus that we have finally earned that once-elusive seat around the boardroom table. Now that we are there, however, the question is whether we will be up to the task.

 

That is where the world’s professional associations come in: giving practitioners the standards, knowledge and skills they need to succeed – while being effective advocates for public relations in the public interest.

 

I hope that reading about such activities in our global community can help with all of the above goals. The Global Alliance site is where the world’s PR and communication management associations come together virtually, and we are just weeks away from coming together in person at the World Public Relations Forum in Melbourne, Australia, where we will debate the emerging Melbourne Mandate for Global Communication.

 

We will, of course, have a session on integrated reporting at the Forum. Whether you can join our live or virtual ‘table’ in Melbourne or not, we look forward to sharing our own ‘integrated report’ on the results.

 

 

Daniel Tisch, APR, Fellow CPRS

Chair, Global Alliance