Stop Shutting Up

May 26, 2009 at 9:24 am Leave a comment

Like the diligent PR pro I am, I espouse an open communications policy for corporations–create a dialog with stakeholders; share information frequently and honestly. This call for openness is a mantra in the PR profession.

Let me share some pieces that add to the argument. In his blog, edit30, Richard Miles reviews an assessment of global financial institutions’ communications leadership, or lack thereof. Per the post, The Milan communications consultancy Lundquist Srl studies 51 top firms and concludes:

The world’s largest banks failed to provide adequate disclosure online at a time when companies needed to communicate even more with the market in order to confront the climate of confusion [that] characterized the financial crisis.

Karen Mazurkewich, reporter for Financial Post, examines corporations’ communication breakdown (apologies to Led Zeppelin). She states:

Whether it is due to arrogance, entitlement or a sense of invulnerability among senior executives, as one expert suggests, the reality is that many kings of the corporate world no longer put communications at the top of their agenda. Such isolation has made them more vulnerable to crisis.

Mr. Miles’ post shares a statistical study. Ms. Mazurkewich’s article brings journalistic observation. Both pieces support the PR professionals’ eternal plea to corporate leaders: “Stop shutting up.” (granted, it is usually expressed more eloquently in official settings…and more coarsely when the brass is not within earshot).

And with every “shut up,” there seems to be a “shut down” where corporations fail to process input from stakeholders and insulate themselves from the public mood. As prime examples of this lack of perception, Ms. Mazurkewich recalls the now-infamous episodes of automaker CEOs flying to bailout hearings in private jets and AIG ladling post-collapse bonuses.

The campaign for corporate openness is not about PR pros looking for job security. It’s about corporations working toward their own security. The correlation between poor communications and poor overall company performance is easier to see than ever. The time to make friends and influence people is not when your executives are being called to Capitol Hill or your share price won’t cover a McCafe Iced Mocha.

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Entry filed under: Crisis Communications, Leadership, Public Relations. Tags: , , , , , , .

Sounds Like a Villain to Me Rent “Quiz Show”

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