Recently, seven of the public relations industry’s top professionals offered candid insights into one of the hottest, most controversial issues of the day—corporate activism.
“Values-Based Decision Making in a Provocative Environment,” a panel produced by the Museum of Public Relations, shed light on issues and obstacles modern communicators face. The panelists agreed that organizations should build trust by conducting business with transparency, honesty and finesse, though that’s easier said than done in today’s fraught and fragmented cultural climate.
With the American public increasingly expecting corporate leaders to take astand on social issues, PR pros have a huge role to play in mitigating blowback and navigating publicity minefields.
Here are highlights from the corporate activism panel discussion, which included executives from Weber Shandwick, Johnson & Johnson and General Electric:
Rebuilding trust through truth
Several panelists noted that emerging generations place a premium on truth and authenticity. Bill Nielsen, retired chief public relations and communications officer for Johnson & Johnson, believes that the PR and journalism industries share a common currency: dedication to facts. A healthy journalism sector and corporate communications driven by honesty and authenticity will elevate the public dialogue and strengthen our institutions. The onslaught of “fake news” and phony corporate speech will only weaken public confidence and degrade the national conversation. It’s a downward spiral that PR pros must actively combat.
As Johnson & Johnson chief communications officer Michael Sneed pointed out, organizations today have a social contract with society
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