When a group of senior in-house executives of the caliber of IBM's Jon Iwata and colleagues combine to produce a new framework for PR, corporate affairs, and marketing it is definitely worthy of note.
Iwata, this year's chairman of the Arthur W. Page Society, is one of the driving forces behind the white paper that was unveiled at Page's spring seminar yesterday. Titled Building Belief: A New Model for Activating Corporate Character and Authentic Advocacy, the much-anticipated document is an important piece of work.
It brings together two big themes: establishing authenticity through corporate character - or acting in line with your purpose and values - and advocacy at scale through authentic engagement, especially through social media. These themes build on topics that we have been discussing more and more at PRWeek in recent months.
The production of the document included a detailed examination of emerging practice at blue-chip corporations including Proctor & Gamble, Apple, Johnson & Johnson, eBay, PepsiCo, BMW, FedEx, Home Depot, and, of course, Iwata's IBM – long heralded as a blueprint for an effective marketing and communications structure.
Clearly the framework is not a universal panacea that can be picked up and applied to any organization, and it is a work in progress that will need refining and evolving. But it is a good starting point.
The idea is that CCOs can take this blueprint back to their corporations and organizations and try to apply the principles to their own structures in practice - so far, so good. However, that's easier said than done in many contexts: not everyone works in such a progressive environment as GE or IBM. There will still be CEOs and C-suite executives who are not receptive.
The call to action contained in the plan emboldens CCOs to return to their organizations and lead a drive toward enterprise authenticity, by defining and activating; assessing current practice, cultivating skills, establishing owned media and building a social business; and initiating senior level (CEO and C-suite) planning and shaping processes.
The message to Page members is: be bold, go back to your day jobs, and prepare to lead your organization into a new age of authenticity.