Strategies & Tactics Live is on the road this month at ICON 2023 in Nashville, Tenn.
Ray Day, APR, vice chair of Stagwell, was the guest on Oct. 16 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.
On Oct. 14, the delegates of the 2023 Leadership Assembly elected Day as PRSA’s 2024 chair-elect. (You can read about the other officer and director positions here.)
John Elsasser, editor-in-chief of Strategies & Tactics and host of S&T Live, asked Day about the leadership lessons he’s learned during his career — which has included two years as CCO at IBM and 28 years with Ford, where he was group vice president of communications.
At Ford, he learned “the power of positive leadership,” which Day defines as “having a really compelling vision that everyone can get around.” To attain that vision, implement it relentlessly and “communicate, communicate, communicate,” he said. “Communicate the progress, communicate the plan and the vision, and then communicate however you want to be a part of it.”
Day said that he has learned “to help bring out the best in other people, in other organizations and in society,” he said. “Nothing gives me more pleasure than to see others — on my team, or in the organization that I’m leading — win and fly higher. And that’s my dream for PRSA.”
Elsasser asked Day what he’d heard PRSA members discuss the most during ICON 2023. The first thing Day observed, he said, “was the momentum and the passion going on in our industry, that we’re back. It was really palpable.”
Day said he was hearing conversations about three themes during ICON 2023, starting with artificial intelligence.
In the PR profession, we should be excited about AI,” he said. “I know there’s a bit of fear, a bit of confusion out there. With any new technology, I’m a big proponent that human plus machine makes society better. But it has to be in that order — human using machine to make life better.”
In Day’s view, “AI lets us eliminate low-value-added work and allows all of us to fly higher, to become more strategic, to add more impact. But we need to make sure that the human being in charge of the machine puts the rules of the road in place. There are bad actors out there, who could use AI for negative purposes, including misinformation. We all need to guard against that.
“I often hear people ask, ‘Is AI going to eliminate my job?’” he said. “That isn’t the right question, in my mind. AI is going to change a hundred percent of our job, but we all need to get on board and to decide how we can harness AI to make us better, our organizations better and our profession better.”
At the conference, “There’s also been a big focus on DEI, where we are in DEI and that we still have a lot of work to do. There’s been a sub-buzz around ‘DEIB,’ adding ‘belonging’ to the DEI discussion.”
When it comes to political divisions and the risks they pose for companies, in next year’s political campaigns “business is going to be caught even more in the crosshairs,” Day said. “We’re seeing fewer champions for business.”
The third topic on people’s minds at ICON 2023 has been “misinformation, malinformation and disinformation,” Day said. “Particularly as we look at the year ahead, with the U.S. election,” these issues present “a communications challenge and an opportunity for us to lead.”
You can watch the playback on LinkedIn here. The 30-minute conversation also offered many insights for brands and organizations during today’s fractured political climate and challenges heading into an election year.
[Photo: Amy Jacques]