Live broadcast: World Bank presents on October 24 the how’s of communication for development. Or is it public relations?

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Is it communication for development or public relations? Click here to rsvp wb1.doc
Some of the more affectionate visitors of this blog might remember that this topic was covered last year in one of the very best and most intriguing conversations ‘aired’ in this-here space. Please visit.
Now, our friends at the World Bank have staged for October 24 a highly attractive on line and simultanous broadcast presentation of the book which came out of last year’s world conference held in Rome, Italy. Have a good and interesting time! wb.doc

4 COMMENTS

  1. Toni, et al.

    Sometimes I worry that we spend far too much time trying to deal with semantics — medicine has lots of subsets. We work for a law firm with eight specialities — is it a law firm, a business law firm, a construction law firm???

    The only time the question of whether “it” is public relations or communications for development matters is when public relations is thought to mean corrumpt, dishonest, communications, as in “that’s only public relations.”

    IABC, which has decided some percentage of its memb ers are in public reltions wiithout bothering to define public relations — party planning? publicity? the overall management of the reputation of an organization? — has a Toronto chapter that seems to think “Communicators” in IABC’s name means PR people, at least according to an announcement recently of plans for IABC Toronto later this year.

    BAK

  2. I have to agree with Brian on this one. As a profession, I think we’re a bit adolescent and very fixated on being misunderstood. Frankly, the label isn’t so important.

    When browsing the World Bank documents, what struck me is the desire to unlock human potential through the power of communication in its widest sense. What does that mean? Facilitation, connecting dots, ensuring access to ideas, critical thinking (i.e. a sense of enquiry) and the power of the many to effect great change when working together.

    People who don’t work in the development field cannot imagine how outdated a lot of its approach to communications is. I work with the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (farmers), and one of their constant themes is that farmers should be included in designing research problems and approaches, not just the recipients of the shiny package of technology that scientists develop without them. Should that really be such a radical idea? Shouldn’t it be common sense?

    For me, the worst part is that communications is too often used as an obstacle to development. Any number of very similar projects may be carried out in the same region at the same time, but the chances of combining forces to be more effective are slim, because everyone wants to invent the wheel and have their name on it (that last point is central).

    Development strategies are getting smarter, and progress is occurring, but there is a long way to go. At the moment, things are changing at two levels, but they aren’t joined up very well.

    From a top-down perspective, there are an increasing number of virtual policy networks. These bring together key groups of stakeholders to design framework solutions. What is exciting about these is that governments, intergovernmental organizations, business & industry, NGOs and other relevante stakeholders sit alongside one another as equal players to work towards common understandings and objectives. This replaces the model where governments were the deciders and the others observers, at worst, or advisors, at best and where the non-governmental stakeholders were largely set in opposition to one another.

    At the grassroots, individuals and different groups are increasingly forming associations or alliances to tackle their problems together. Once of the most advanced examples of this is the Australian LandCare model, where formerly opposed members of communities (such as farmers and urbanites) come together to reach mutually satisfying solutions to serious problems (like water shortages).

    There are only a few places, however, where the grassroots activism is supported by a “high-level” policy network. More horizontal models of communications are developing at each level, but they are not well integrated.

  3. Hello PR Conversations. Here’s an editorial about governance and “PR for PR” which I think all professionals should be aware of.

    PAID PR STAFF IS ANSWER AT PR SOCIETY by Jack O’Dwyer
    The PR Society(of America)leaders are so aware of the severe shortage of leaders that 50 of them including eight past presidents have signed a petition seeking new ways of developing leaders and demanding “openness, complete transparency” in the Society’s governance process.
    The problem is that only seven candidates showed up for nine national offices this year and none from the Southeast district. The deadline had to be extended to get a S.E. candidate.
    PRS leaders are like a volunteer fire department that won’t admit its former
    “village” has grown into a city and volunteers can no longer do the
    job. Fires are breaking out all over the city but the volunteers are too busy with their jobs and private lives to get to them in time.
    What’s needed is a paid fire dept. at headquarters of at least
    10-15 veteran PR pros with experience and judgment (such as all other
    professional groups have–doctors, lawyers and accountants).
    A defensive association mentality rules at PR Society h.q. Legal
    doubletalk abounds and the financials are about as clear as
    Mississippi mud.
    Among “fires” is the advice in the influential Princeton Review for
    those seeking PR careers to obtain a broad liberal arts education and
    avoid PR courses.
    Another fire was the recent crack by Gene Weingarten in the
    Washington Post that PR people are “pathetic dillweeds” (made after he
    tried to obtain info from contacts listed on press releases).
    Frank Rich’s book-long attack on PR (The Greatest Story Ever Sold) was
    no bouquet of flowers for PR, either. He blames the war in Iraq on PR
    techniques used by the Bush Administration.

    He characterizes PR as
    lacking in substance and being press-averse, and basically sales
    promotion and marketing. There are nine current books about PR with
    “spin” in their titles. PR has about disappeared from corporations,
    replaced by “corporate communications.”

  4. @Jack – I agree the term “PR” wasn’t mentioned at my last corporate job, but I heard “corporate communications” often. Same thing during my years living with a corporate communications major at UT in Austin.

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