Collaboration is the key to survival and success

That a group of 535 elected officials ended up jeopardizing our economy and future because of their failure to work together is unacceptable and unconscionable.

Something had to give. And it did last Thursday, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 500 points, triggered in large part by the fractious debate between Congress and the president over raising the debt ceiling, which brought America to the brink of default.

That a group of 535 elected officials ended up jeopardizing our economy and future because of their failure to work together is unacceptable and unconscionable.

A record 82% of Americans now disapprove of the way that Congress is handling its job – the most since the New York Times first began asking the question in 1977. Hopefully, this is the watershed moment that gets Americans to rise up and demand that their polarizing political leaders do their jobs and collaborate for the public good.

Congress' failure to work together to serve the needs of the American public is anachronistic and at odds with the Web 2.0 world, in which transparency, open communication, collaboration, and community are key.

In this increasingly social and connected world, it's organizations that are most responsive in serving the needs of their stakeholders that are able to create a strong community of support for their goods and services. These organizations will emerge as leaders of Web 2.0.

Sadly, this has not been the case with Congress, whose uncooperative behavior has severely damaged its reputation and standing. Moreover, our representatives' recent actions may yet have dire consequences for America.

As PR practitioners today, our role must evolve to serve the expanding needs of the organizations and clients we represent. It's no longer enough for us to merely “manage” stakeholder communications. The openness and transparency required for organizations to operate successfully today demands that PR practitioners take a greater leadership role in actively fostering collaboration and community with a focus on the greater good.

Rather than counseling an organization or client on how to wage war on the opposition, we should be advocating innovative and productive ways to collaborate that have far greater benefits for everyone.

What was once PR is, in fact, becoming more like public service in meeting the needs of an organization's community. Leading private sector organizations are increasingly viewing the entire community-at-large as their stakeholder population. PR is overlapping more and more with aspects of the public sector and aspects of public service.

PR practitioners who understand and embrace this shift will be the best equipped to serve their organizations and help them become strong, contributing leaders to the community-at-large.

Patrice Tanaka is the co-chair, chief creative officer, and whatcanbe ambassador for CRT/tanaka.

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