How can public relations improve the quality of decisions and accelerate their implementation?

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If I had ten savvy CEO’s from the private, public and social sectors of the economy around a table and, at a certain point of our conversation, I asked them:
‘amongst the following three challenges you face today, which -in your opinion-is the one which deserves your priority attention?’
……and the three challenges were:
°identify, attract, retain and capitalize talent;
°improve the quality of management decisions and accelerate their time of implementation;
°effectively integrate the best of technology into day-to-day activities…
….which of the three do you believe would receive the most points and which the least?
if the issue is of your interest please read this brazil2.doc

3 COMMENTS

  1. Wow, Toni, you have given us a lot to mull over. While I will have to reread your total document to form a better view of its arguments, I do want to quibble about one point presented early-on.

    You wrote:

    “And this, in turn, implies that if organizations only listen (lip-service-style) to stakeholder expectations (and not many do), but fail to make the effort understand, interpret and integrate those expectations into their decision making processes, there is an added high risk of paralysis-by-analysis.”

    If the lip-service is to stakeholders within the organization, failure to understand, interpret and integrate expectations wouldn’t lead to paralysis-by-analysis. Instead, it would lead to greater dissatisfaction, lower engagement scores and decisions that might be ineffective or inefficient to the organization.

    That said, your other statements lend credence to the need for PR professionals (or someone playing a similar role) to be involved in the strategic process. I don’t know whether I missed your reasoning, but I wonder why PR would be the function best able to play that role. Another read might clarify that for me.

    Tom

  2. Tom,
    on the first point I refer to a very common ‘caveat’ which top-down, communicators-at colleagues use to warn against non-lip-service stakeholder engagement practices. They claim that, as stakeholder interests are frequently in conflict with each other, you lose a lot of time trying to reconcile them (paralysis-by-analysis) and in the meantime the bus has passed….
    This implies of course that managers make full use of the principle of responsibility and take decisions, however being fully aware of stakeholder expectations.
    I hope to have clarified.

    The second issue you raise is very much to the point.
    I don’t know the evolution in yoour country, but in mine (Italy) there used to be much interest and attention by large organizations to the evolution of the outside world and society in ,say, the sixties and the seventies.
    Huge, overpayed staffs formed by economists and social scientists populated what we then called ‘centro studi’ (not really planning, but much more detached from operations…). Our banks were famous, but also large corporations like Fiat, Eni, Enel excelled in this.
    Then this practice fell through the floor and disappeared in the early eighties while marketing people picked up some of the pieces and focussed on consumer attitudes (unfortunately more towards marketing and communication, rather than actual products and services..).
    The rest disappeared.
    The recent expansion of the concept of stakeholder, rather than just shareholder, society has created the need for someone inside the organization to monitor (i.e.listen to) stakeholder expectations.
    While it seems obvious that the best person to monitor expectations of investors is the cfo; customers, the sales or marketing director; suppliers, the purchasing officer; employees is the hurman relations director and so on…this inevitably leads to interpretative confusion.
    Thus, I argue that the public relations director can best perform this function -as long as the intepretation is constantly finetuned with the heads of the specific function who is operatively in charge of relating with that specific segment of stakeholders- for two reasons:
    a- the pr director is familiar with professional listening processes more than most other directors (save marketing, I guess);
    b- the pr director is already listening to at least other three major stakeholder segments (media, public policy makers, local communities and opinion leaders)and therefore should be able the best equipped to use similar competences in listening to other groups.
    Have I explained sufficiently?
    If not, as this is a highly relevant point (as ti very much relates to the reflexive and educative strategic function of pr), please quibble again…thank you.

  3. Ahh, thanks for the clarifications, Toni.

    Yes, I see your point that in large organizations, different functions address the needs of their sometimes differing stakeholders. I also see your point that a Public Relations professional within the organization can play the roles of interpreter, arbitrator and counselor.

    When conflicts are not resolved and decisions have to be made, the CEO has the final word. So, perhaps, CEOs will look for someone to do the heavy lifting, and then consider that person’s professional opinions and insights when making a final determination. I’ve seen other people playing that role in organizations in which I’ve worked, including the senior vice president of Human Resources and the head of Marketing. I’ve also been part of a Corporate Communications Department where our director tried to assume that role, but never could break through the “inner circle.”

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