PR must seize opportunities the changing world provides

For the past year, we have been struggling alongside our clients to understand the changed world in which we live.

For the past year, we have been struggling alongside our clients to understand the changed world in which we live. We face an uncertain economy, a less safe world, concerns about sustainability, and a changing global dynamic. Traditional institutions and ways of doing things have broken down and there exists a void that has created frustration, anger, and a general lack of trust.

As communications professionals at this important time, how do we figure out what's next? More importantly, how do we find the most relevant ways to add to our firms and our clients?

I tried to reflect on this question while listening to our world leaders and business executives at the recent meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

It became clear to me that while the economy seems to be improving, there are fundamental shifts taking place that affect all of us. Attitudes about capitalism, globalization, and the role of government are changing, and these shifts offer opportunities where we can make a difference.

First, there is a clear and unprecedented shift from West to East. This shift will require the ability to better understand and communicate values and priorities different from ours. We must help ourselves and our clients learn to interact and communicate seamlessly across these boundaries.

Second, the rise of a new generation of knowledge-hungry consumers using digital and mobile media - who want to pull information, rather than having it pushed at them - requires changes in how companies do business and relate to their diverse stakeholder groups.

Finally, we are seeing a world where increasing interconnections require more and more global solutions. In today's skeptical and high-impact culture, organizations face new and daunting obstacles.

Globalization today means that reputational damage on a local level can harm brands on a global scale. As institutions work to rebuild reputations and trust, our industry is more valuable than ever.

With our experience in creating dialogues with stakeholders across geographic boundaries and our grasp of effective uses of new media, we can play a key role in building a new class of educated consumers of both products and ideas who are empowered to make good choices that affect behavior, create customers, and ultimately change society. Our profession must help articulate the values that build trust and create transparency in tomorrow's world.

Margery Kraus is founder and CEO of APCO Worldwide.

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