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Social Capital: The Essential Currency For PR Success

Editor’s Note: Sadhana Pasricha is presenting “Harnessing the Social Capital and Assuming Leadership in Bridging Organizational Silos” at the PRSA Strategic Collaboration Conference on Thursday, April 23. Register to attend the conference to learn more about Melissa’s presentation.

Public Relations leadership is urgently needed for bridging organizational silos by harnessing the power of Social Capital

Managing organizations in increasingly turbulent economic conditions is creating unprecedented leadership opportunities for public relations professionals.  However, to serve as influential leaders at critical nodes in the organizational network, public relations professionals must effectively maximize their relationship and reputation management skills by generating and leveraging Social Capital, the essential currency for success.

Social Capital is a sociological concept that refers to three distinct but interrelated social assets. These are networks, trust, and cultural norms. These fragile intangible Social Capital assets are generated through social interactions and are stored in relationships.  As organizations strive to become flat, lean, flexible, global and diverse, they tend to experience the unintended consequence of emerging rigid organizational silos. Organizational silos emerge are a self- preservation response to the fear, conflict and confusion that permeates the system. Consequently, managing employee engagement and retaining talented employees becomes challenging and costly. In this fractured organizational landscape, public relations professional have a fantastic opportunity to assume leadership roles by bridging internal organizational silos and creating links with diverse external stakeholders.

By interacting and collaborating with new networks, public relations experts can generate rich stocks of Social Capital. With the goodwill and trust they generate, they can assume leadership roles and become very valuable and influential at all levels in the organization.  I believe that since public relations professionals already possess strong communication, relationship, and reputation building expertise, they can rapidly utilize their expertise and `Personal Social Capital’ by assuming responsibility to help helping generate `Organizational Social Capital’ the invaluable currency for gaining competitive advantage.

Traditionally, CEO’s and organizational leadership have focused primarily on Human Capital and Financial Capital for organizational success. Having conducted extensive research on numerous corporate culture transformation and Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, I have gained deep knowledge and insights into the exceptional power of Social Capital for organizational success. Most important, in my conversations with CEO’s I have noticed that they are beginning to acknowledge and display sincere appreciation and desire for investing in relationships and trust. There is a growing awareness that Social Capital can provide significant competitive advantage. However, CEOs and organizational leaders are unsure about how to proceed because this is new terrain. This uncertainty is fertile ground for the emergence of new leadership. PR professionals need to emerge from support roles and confidently speak up to help frame the new conversations.

In the near future, I believe that the demand for talented leaders who can help generate and manage appropriate investments in relationships and trust will significantly increase. I hope that public relations professionals will be prepared to maximize this opportunity and assume their rightful seat at the decision-making table.

I encourage PR professionals to not wait for an invitation to lead. In my keynote titled: Harnessing the Social Capital and Assuming Leadership in Bridging Organizational Silos on April 23, at PRSA’s Strategic Collaboration Conference I will share actionable strategies for generating and leveraging Social Capital. I am very excited to encourage PR leaders to take the initiative and offer their skills by creating and stepping into influential roles.

In this presentation I will explain what is Social Capital, as well as, how it is created and destroyed.  I will share several actionable strategies that PR executives can use to authentically and appropriately invest in their ‘Personal Social Capital’ and serve as trustworthy leaders to make positive contributions to their organizations and communities. I will also give practical suggestions for creating a “Personal Social Capital Playbook” to rapidly, easily and joyfully achieve exceptional personal and organizational success. I am excited to present this keynote because this is aligned with my personal mission of highlighting the power of relationships and humanizing organizations so that organizations can be profitable and successful while also being a strong positive force in society. I truly believe that PR professionals are the best positioned to lead this transformation and I am happy to support their efforts to expand their leadership roles from tactics to strategy.

Sadhana Pasricha, is founder and president of Social Capital Consultants, an international corporate culture research and consulting firm. A University of Chicago-trained sociologist and business professor for more than 25 years, Pasricha partners with CEOs and leadership at multiple levels to diagnose and design high engagement corporate cultures. She coaches minority and women executives to build Social Capital and bring their “A Game” to work, as well as consults with senior leadership to create inclusive corporate cultures by “leveling the playing field.”

Pasricha recently gave a TEDx talk on Social Capital, and has spoken at several national and international conferences, as well as leading universities, including the Harvard Business School. She has served as chair of Hockessin Montessori School Board and the YWCA of Delaware, is a founding board member of the ACE-Delaware Women in Higher Education, and an examiner for the Delaware Quality Award. She currently serves as Delaware’s delegate at Vision2020, a national initiative working to advance shared leadership through women’s economic, racial and social equality. She can be contacted at

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