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#PRin2012: Organizations Will be Defined by Communication

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of 12 guest posts from industry executives predicting key trends that will impact the public relations industry in 2012. Hosted under the hashtag #PRin2012, the series began Dec. 19, 2011, with a compilation post previewing all 12 predictions.

Time magazine named “the protester” as its person of the year for 2011 — an insight that foreshadows a challenge for every organization in 2012: never will it be easier for any David to throw any Goliath off stride, and never will organizations be more defined by communication.

Most of the great protests of 2011 — from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street — were rooted in economic and social distress. But as 2012 dawns, there are tremors of discontent among the increasingly affluent middle classes in rising economies such as those of Russia and China; one of the greatest risks to these successful but autocratic regimes will lie in the quality of their communication.

Closer to home, when even the U.S. Federal Reserve starts to use communication as an economic management strategy, you know that authorities are starting to get the message.

As CEO of a public relations firm, I see the same challenge in the corporate world. Even in times of exceptional economic volatility, there will be many winners. Those will be the organizations that truly develop listening cultures, equip themselves to anticipate and respond to issues with agility, clarity, transparency and authenticity, give their stakeholders meaningful opportunities to influence their direction, and measure the quality of their relationships and reputations.

The coming year will bring plenty of surprises at the organizational, local, national and global levels — titans who will stumble, unknowns who will rise, laggards who will become leaders. While this happens every year, never will it be harder to predict … but communication will convey the clue.

As we move ever closer to a world in which global publishing power lies in every person’s pocket, the punishment for failing to listen, engage, anticipate and respond effectively will be severe; and the rewards for an organization that defines itself through communication will be rich indeed.

Daniel Tisch, APR, Fellow CPRS, (@DanTisch) is chair of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management and CEO of Argyle Communications.

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