This working group is chaired by Associate Professor and GA board member Gregor Halff, Singapore; and Noel Turnbull, Fellow PRIA, Former CEO Turnbull Porter Novelli, Australia.
Public Relations and communication management are today widely acknowledged to be the guardians of an organisation’s reputation: Practitioners have the mandate to manage all messages directed at the environment and the responsibility for most relationships with external stakeholders.
On top of that, the profession has long aspired to be the ‘ear to the ground’ for organisations and corporations. PR aims not just to communicate, but also to listen to stakeholders and to be their voice within organisations. It is here that public relations seems to underperform. A wide majority of organisations around the world still demonstrate next to no ability to effectively listen. They firstly lack an awareness of their stakeholders’ dynamic expectations and secondly the capacity to integrate those expectations into the organisation’s decision making processes or to justify why these expectations can’t be integrated. This leads to the regular waves of moral outrage, ethical debate and public protests by audiences who are most often not even directly affected by the (alleged) misdemeanor they lament.
Organisations are lagging behind their audiences, who today – after the technical, economical and socio-political evolutions of the past 20 years – were never in history so free to make themselves heard, read and seen. These audiences’ trust in corporations and bureaucracies has also never been lower. With the Melbourne Mandate, we want organisations to catch up with history and develop a listening culture.
In Melbourne, we will firstly need to admit that PR can’t become the exclusive ‘ear to the ground’ of organisations. Instead, entire organisations need to be sensitized to their environment. In the Melbourne Mandate we want to list the ten decisions that leaders need to take to instill a listening structure and culture within their organisations. These decisions could be anything from technical, organisational, physical, operational, etc. We therefore ask:
• What are examples of exceptionally engaging and listening organisations?
• What structural and cultural conditions are in place in these organisations, e.g. in terms of technology, transparency, hierarchy, operations, governance, etc. etc.?
• How can they be measured or assessed?
• How can the PR function create, or help create, those conditions?
With the Melbourne Mandate and its 10 ‘listening decisions’ in hand, the Global Alliance hopes to bi-annually publish a list of the world’s best listening organisations and to thus inspire as many organisations as possible.