Edelman calls for brands to align policy, comms

NEW YORK: Public relations must play a greater role in the decision-making processes of corporations, said Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman, in a speech at the Institute for Public Relations' annual awards dinner.

NEW YORK: Public relations must play a greater role in the decision-making processes of corporations, said Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman, in a Thursday speech at the Institute for Public Relations' annual awards dinner.

Referencing President Barack Obama's statement in the Ron Suskind book Confidence Men that his administration made significant mistakes on the communications front, Edelman said “policy and communications cannot be separated, and both are tied to operating reality.”

“Communications must be a core element in the business planning process. That includes decisions on pricing, supply chain, and brand marketing,” he said. “Unfortunately, many organizations still determine policy and operating approach in a vacuum, then hand it to the PR folks to explain.”

Edelman cited recent communications debacles by Netflix, Bank of America, and the Tokyo Electric Power Company as examples where PR, operations, and policy were not aligned. He called for PR executives to operate at the same level in the C-suite as the general counsel, the operations manager, the director of corporate strategy, and the CMO.

“In this age of complexity, public relations can guide business better than any other discipline,” he said. “Now is our moment to create a new and compelling narrative that defines who we are, what we stand for, and why we are in a position to lead.”

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