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.
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.