And now, let's work for the Stockholm Accords and the future of our profession!

I submit to you that Bjorn Edlund, Executive Vice President Communication of Royal Dutch Shell, is possibly today’s most powerful global public relations professional (I believe he is to retire at end February…).

Read what he said in a very recent interview that opens the Global Alliance’s World Public Relations Forum debate, expected to culminate with the approval of the Stockholm Accords and to be held June 14/15.

Read his quick replies to the three questions, and then I will tell you about the process of what is probably the most daring attempt ( a dash of sound utopianism?) ever undertaken to address the nogstanding ‘cobblers children’ argument concerning our profession….. i.e how is it that public relations professionals are so hopeless about their own reputation while pretending to fix the reputations of their employers or clients….

q. Being the n.1 on Fortune 500 and heading a global organization’s communications with more than 100 000 employees who are active in more than 100 countries – what is a ‘communicative organization’ to you?
a. The communicative organization acts on the insights that relationships have real value, that reputation is shaped through relationships, and that the organization’s own values must be lived in constant dialogue within as well as with its customers, partners and other stakeholders.

q. Looking at your colleagues, what constitutes a communicative person according to you?
a. He or she is open to others and their views and beliefs, clear about her or his own views and beliefs, and always seeking to help others think through their challenges and find win-win outcomes.

q. Shell has, of course, lots of learnings looking back on the communications done, but what will the future demand of communication professionals and managers?
a. I believe deeper psychological insights and better strategic skills are crucial. On the one hand, in the networked world, we will see a deepening into psychology from today’s sociology-based communications. On the other, adding more value through communications will require better intimacy with long-term strategy of the business.

Ok. Not bad hey?

And now to the process which is just taking off next week and will continue until mid June, only to resume immediately after the Forum in its phase of implementation, coordination and monitoring.

Here is John Paluszek in a you tube video on the forum website explaining the concept.

The basic idea is that the World PR Forum in Stockholm will focus on the two concepts of today’s networked society and communicative organization; elaborating on the role of public relations leadership by interactively discussing six themes, to reach a final draft of the Stockholm Accords.

The Stockholm Accords are an entirely and globally collaborative effort which will suggest in maximum four pages (supported however by plenty of research documents, links and suggestions) how the global public relations community may deliver a voluntary and concerted effort through individual professionals, educators, agencies, consultancies, associations and managers to argue the authentic value of public relations in today’s society.

This means YOU, TOO!

Each participant may select -according to one’s specific needs and preferences- one or more themes; use one or more supporting arguments, in dialogue with one or more stakeholder groups; adopting one or more performance indicators.

The themes relate to:

° governance
° management
° internal communication
° marketing
° sustainability
° alignment of internal and external communication

These six themes accompanied by a very succinct first description will be discussed next Tuesday (February 16) by some 40 global professional leaders from 16 countries and six continents who have accepted an invitation to do so in a digital synchronous video and audio workshop on the Cisco-Webex-Connexia environment.

Six volunteer colleagues from as many countries have accepted to coordinate working groups amongst the 40 participants which will interact via email for ten days following the first workshop.

Participants will reconvene on March 9 for a second and final workshop adopting the same Connexia platform to review and approve a first rough draft of the Accords.

This draft will then be immediately posted on the Forum site, and a blog will allow public relations community members from all over the world to express and discuss their views, suggest additions, amendments, modifications until the eve of the Forum.

This second draft will then be discussed in six live and highly interactive sessions in Stockholm where six provocateurs will stimulate discussion in a setting where the 400 expected participants will be seated around tables of six/eight, equipped with all the necessary visual aids to further modify the draft, which will be formally approved by organizations, individuals, agencies, companies, educational institutions who will also commit to implement the Accords for a two-three year period in every corner of the world.

The Global Alliance will try to coordinate, moderate and report on it.

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4 Replies to “And now, let's work for the Stockholm Accords and the future of our profession!

  1. Toni, When I read the 1st draft of the “Stockholm Accords” received from you earlier today (and soon to be posted on the Global Alliance website for comment), I couldn’t help but think what an awesome and stimulating experience it was for me sitting down together (virtually) with 30-40 PR practitioners and academics from around the globe, contributing perspectives and exchanging comments on the value that PR brings (and can bring) to an organisation.

    What I liked best of all was the exchange between practice and academia, and how we worked together seamlessly. Of course practitioners found ‘academic-speak’ rather painful in the final analysis/draft, but solved this problem quickly by having a practitioner edit the final product so that ‘normal’ people could make sense of it.

    In a previous post titled “PR professionals are from Venus, PR scholars are from Mars: How shall the ‘twain’ meet?” ( I asked readers to “share examples of where Mars and Venus came into close orbit, even for a while”. Well, tonight I can provide my own example–around a virtual table offered by the Global Alliance!

  2. Yes, I agree that Edlund has it down. But Shell doesn’t necessarily behave in the way he describes around the world. When that happens, he WILL be the most powerful global public relations professional.

  3. For firms relationships are everything because reputations and trust depend on them (that’s been true of all business since the beginning of history). But PRs are more message driven than anything else, not least because we are few (compared to say 100 000 Shell employees) and our audiences are many and large and spread far and wide. We don’t own the direct relationships, but we can develop messages and hone narratives.

    Though I’ll agree that a large part our business is also concerned with diplomacy and even schmoozing and wooing.

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