Becoming our clients’ conscience

From communicators to conscience: The Page Society Chair and Text100 CEO Aedhmar Hynes explains how the time is right for our industry to evolve into something greater.

From communicators to conscience: The Page Society Chair and Text100 CEO Aedhmar Hynes explains how the time is right for our industry to evolve into something greater.

This is a remarkable moment for our profession.

The power of communications has never been greater. Mobile technologies have connected billions of us in a global network. Social media gives everyone a voice, making it possible for our children to lead powerful movements demanding change.

At the same time, the complexity of communications has never been more challenging. The same technology that connects us also serves to divide us. The broad marketplace of ideas can be replaced by narrow digital “echo chambers”. It’s dangerously easy to fall into groups that serve only to validate what people think, instead of exposing them to new ideas. That isolation has led to a serious ongoing erosion of trust in business, in public institutions, and in each other.

As communications leaders, we’re at the center of helping business to understand this new dynamic. The basis of our industry is helping clients succeed in this complex environment. That success demands more than understanding how to use technology to deliver the organizations messages, though. We must elevate our roles to be something more important.

We must stand up as the conscience of our companies and our clients.

Our clients’ conscience

This puts us at the very heart of the business. From this position, we can question and challenge not just the messages, but also the underlying behaviors and codes of ethics. Unlike anyone else in the C-suite, we have the information and tools required to effectively push for the kind of conscious capitalism that stakeholders increasingly demand.

The leadership of our companies deserve nothing less; our stakeholders and society expect nothing less. Matching a company’s values to the words it speaks is how we build confidence and re-establish trust in a post-trust world.

As communications leaders, we have a unique opportunity to accomplish this change. We have at our disposal the resources needed to act and effect positive change for all stakeholders. The same technology that empowers individuals also empowers the organization to build genuine, direct connections with people to drive the change we seek.

It isn’t always easy to seize the opportunity to play this vital role. It requires courage to step up and be an advocate for change at this level.

Stronger together

This is where the Page Society has such an important role to play. We each face the same challenge, and it’s always easier to be brave when we’re supported by our peers.

This is why the Board of Trustees has worked to transform our brand into one that is fresh and relevant to the challenge in front of us. I was honored to have the Text100 team work with Page on the new brand, and to unveil it at the Page Spring Seminar on April 5.  Throughout this process, the Board was determined to lead with our actions, ensuring the diversity, equality and global relevance of the Society.

 

From the beginning, the Page Society has stood for values of integrity and transparency. Just as our role as communicators has evolved to keep pace with society, so too has the meaning of integrity within that role. Embracing our role as the conscience of our businesses is absolutely consistent with Page’s values. It’s not only a great responsibility, it’s also a great privilege, and an opportunity we all must seize.

This is a gently edited version of Aedhmar’s Speech to Page at their annual Spring Seminar, which took place last week in New York City. Her full remarks are available on Page’s blog.

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