Interview: Roger Bolton

Roger Bolton is senior counselor for APCO Worldwide and, since January 1, 2006, president of the Arthur W. Page Society.

Roger Bolton is senior counselor for APCO Worldwide and, since January 1, 2006, president of the Arthur W. Page Society.

Bolton will speak with PRWeek in a web exclusive podcast Q&A, where he'll discuss the rebranding efforts at the Society, the recent appointment of executive director Tom Nicholson, and the future of the 23-year-old organization. The following interview was conducted over email in preparation for the May 7 interview.

PRWeek: What are the commonalities and the differences between your work as senior counselor of APCO Worldwide and your presidential post with the Arthur Page Society?

Roger Bolton: APCO is a global public affairs communications firm that advises clients on building relationships with an organization's key stakeholders. The Arthur W. Page Society is a membership organization dedicated to advancing the management policy role of the chief corporate public relations officer. So, my work for APCO involves counseling clients, and my leadership of Page focuses on serving our members. But both are focused on the key issues facing corporate communicators and the Page Principles definitely apply.

By the way, I've just joined APCO Worldwide after 11 years as chief communications officer of Aetna, so I've got a lot of experience in the type of role that most of the Page Society members currently occupy.

PRWeek: What are a few of your goals for the Society?

Bolton: In order to advance our mission, we're working on the following priorities:

1.   First, providing our members with an unsurpassed continuous learning and networking experience that will help them be better chief public relations officers. This includes programs that more effectively prepare members to succeed in a global environment in which technology is changing the way people communicate and receive information and new types of stakeholders are being empowered to influence established institutions.

2.   Second, achieving better understanding among CEOs, other C-suite executives, and corporate boards of the value of the Page Principles and the appropriate role of the chief corporate public relations officer in helping corporations build trust in the rapidly changing environment I mentioned a moment ago.

3.   Third, developing a pipeline of better-prepared future chief public relations officers and Page Society members by giving high potential future leaders access to a Page-like continuous learning and networking experience.

4.   Finally, in order to strengthen the organization for the future, we are also working to create a broader and more influential membership base by attracting a diverse group of accomplished leaders from around the world. Our members include chief communications officers, the heads of the leading public relations agencies and distinguished professors from communications and business schools.

PRWeek: The history of the organization was a big factor in creating the Society's new logo. Why is the past so important to the present and future of the group?

Bolton: The Arthur W. Page Society is different from many other organizations that serve the profession in that we are named after a real person who exemplified the best of what a corporate public relations leader can be.

Page, who was VP of PR for AT&T from 1927 to 1946, was the first public relations adviser to attain a senior corporate rank, and his career was dedicated to a set of principles that guide us today. We felt that our visual identity system was a bit dated and did not help us communicate the dynamic nature of the rapidly evolving role of the chief communications officer.

At the same time, it was critical that we honor the Page heritage and the enduring verities of the Page Principles, which always will be the foundation of all that we do. When we hit upon the idea - with superior help from Landor Associates - of using Page's actual signature, it seemed just right. We left behind the rather old-fashioned profile of Arthur Page in the old logo, but go forward using his very distinctive signature - and its symbol as the mark of one's word - as the expression of an organization dedicated to a personal commitment to truth and respect for the needs of all stakeholders.

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