Declining Trust: Can PR Fix It?

I’ve always thought it ironic that a PR agency ran the world’s largest, most comprehensive and authoritative study on public trust. I mean, aren’t the PR “flacks” the ones spinning the truth all the time? And yet it makes perfect sense.

So much of trust emanates (or withers) from how we communicate. And professional communicators stand to gain tremendously — or lose catastrophically — while helping their organizations navigate the volatility in the ‘market’ for public trust.

I really liked the video Axios produced on Edelman’s annual report. Check it out.

Your liberal arts degree won’t save you

Image result for friendly robot bookSo robots finally surpassed humans at reading. For those of us with creative writing, English or journalism degrees, this is should be a wake up call. I clearly remember sitting thinking (in my office at IBM’s Watson research lab, no less!) “Oh well, AI is so far off for anything that has to do with writing and reading — the mind will be more art than science for decades.” Well, that was about 15 years ago, so….close?

Read: Microsoft and Alibaba AI programs beat humans in Stanford reading comprehension test for 1st time

In a vast and complex reading comprehension test, “Microsoft’s score of 82.6 and Alibaba’s grade of 82.4 beat out the human standard of 82.3. ”

Watch your six, creative types!

The leaders & culture ‘digital’ demands

fluxcTwo pieces came across my transom today — one a summary of a meeting with IBM’s Ginni Rometty and Jon Iwata, the other a post from friends at Bloomberg Beta. Both indicate to me the direction that winning companies need to take and, you guessed it, I see Communications at its core. Especially communications with and among employee populations.

The first is a post to Fortunes’ CEO blog about the necessity for  industry incumbents to get off of their disrupted tushies and make the best use of their inherent knowledge, data and the capital they’re sitting on to take advantage of emergent AI. But, “the biggest problem they face is not technology, but rather creating a culture that can embrace and adapt to technological change. As Iwata summarized their view: ‘Culture is the number one impediment… Culture moves in a linear way; technology moves exponentially.’”


But as I began to learn at IBM (under Jon’s leadership, no less) years ago — company culture is a killer app, or just a killer. Depends. Mostly on how (or whether) or manage it. And by the way, the culture extends internally, externally and across time in ways that are damn hard to address. But digital networks of employees (future and past) leave evidence of behaviors, ideas and artifacts of feelings as never before. Observable…and therefore measurable…and manageable?

(Hint: I most certainly think so.)

The second post — coauthored by Roy Bahat and James Cham — suggests that industry needs a kind of Digital Drucker. Someone with some new ideas about management informed by the capabilities of machine learning. We need fewer genius/hero CEOs and more leadership who understand how machine intelligence can propel their firms (and their increasingly loosely-coupled-recombinant-adaptive workforces) to success. These new managers will “understand how to manage models, which are the flux capacitor of making software go beyond workflows to decisions.”

Couldn’t. Agree. More.

So in both of these articles — ostensibly kinda sorta about technology but really more about adaptation — you have an insight about how Communications as a profession must proceed. The best communications professionals will be consiglieres to their CEOs as their firms develop products, policies, platforms and employee populations open to ‘digital’ (for lack of a better term.) If we’re looking for a ‘seat at the table,’ then our best bet will be to understand the methods of communicating with and through digitally activated populations assisted by many, many flavors of machine intelligence.



>RE: What Social Media Will Look Like in 2012

>My friend Naomi Gilbert sent me a link to AdvertisingAge’s What Social Media Will Look Like in 2012. Not very controversial or mind-blowing predictions, but then again, the horizon that the author is talking about is pretty near (20 months.) Not sure I buy it on the googlewave thing…though that could come true if the google just starts integrating wave functionality into its email platform rather than asking people to migrate (they are already doing this, see: buzz.) The privacy piece is troubling for a number of reasons, but also a bit unrealistically gushing — there are places in the world that privacy laws are much, much more strict than America’s. The author is projecting a pretty American point of view (tho I don’t know where he hails from). These laws are not going to change in a 20 month timeframe to accommodate even the most enthusiastic digital marketers. But it’s true that they will change (when enough companies in those markets lobby for new laws because they begin to feel that they are operating at a disadvantage compared to companies in markets with more liberalized privacy laws.) Or maybe we will be surprised and citizens will realize that trading your privacy for $0.10 worth of free hosting and a little bit of amusing code isn’t actually a good deal.