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Public Relations has the mandate of ‘chronicling’ the major developments in the life of an organization – even the difficult ones.
Embracing an approach of ‘chronicler’ helps the organization build strong bridges with its publics. It means sharing the highs and lows of an organization which leads, in short order, to renewed credibility, trust, a measure of understanding and fruitful dialogue between the organization and the publics on which the organization’s future depends.
Publics, in PR parlance, is another word for stakeholders; namely, any group that has a stake in the organization’s mission or work. It does not stand for the public. For Catholic organizations this can include parishioners, donors, laity, religious – of course – but also government, lapsed Catholics and even our harshest critics.
In our experience, too many organizations look to their PR or Communications persons to publicize their achievements, while looking to brush under the carpet any negative stories or, of equal frustration, to open the doors of communication with the world when there’s good news to share only to close them when its publics wish to broach different – more challenging or unnerving – topics.
Imagine if I unilaterally decided the topics that my wife and I discussed at the dinner table. The relationship would certainly not flourish.
There’s joy too in remembering that the most effective element of communication is the non-verbals. It’s quite liberating really. By saying yes to media interviews or other forms of public encounters, including internal town hall meetings, for example, organizational spokespersons are setting a foundation for optimized relationships. At the end of the day, this ‘presence’ is the requisite for credibility and appreciation, well beyond mere words.