Monday, February 06, 2006

Resistance Is Futile

Richard Edelman, President and CEO of the world's largest PR firm has written in his blog:

How can companies embrace this future of empowered stakeholders? Speak from the inside out, telling your employees and customers what is happening so they can
spread the word for you. Be transparent, revealing what you know when you know it while committing to updating as you learn more. Be willing to yield control of the message in favor of a rich dialogue, in which you learn by listening. Recognize the importance of repetition of the story in multiple venues, because nobody believes something he or she hears or sees for the first time. Embrace new technologies, from employee blogs to podcasts, because audiences are becoming ever more segmented.

I believe with all my heart that change is happening, and businesses - both small and large, public and private, consumer and business, need to embrace it. Ostriches simply will not survive the coming shift in the business climate. Edelman continues:

The traditional approach to corporate communications envisages a controlled process of scripted messages delivered by the chief executive, first to investors, then to other opinion-formers, and only later to the mass audiences of employees and consumers. In the past five years, this pyramid-of influence model has been gradually supplanted by a peer-to-peer, horizontal discussion among multiple stakeholders. The employee is the new credible source for information about a company, giving insight from the front lines. The consumer has become a co-creator, demanding transparency on decisions from sourcing to new-product positioning.

The handwriting is on the wall. The remarkable thing to me is that getting "in the game" is so easy and cost-effective, and still there is reticence. Break free.


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