PR Week’s first blogging competition to celebrate its 10th anniversary is a cute promotional idea. But unknowingly, the publication’s editors may have actually initiated the first step to aligning 32 of the most highly visible communications professionals in the blogosphere. One voice alone in the wilderness of the Internet can only be heard so much, but 32 of us communicating back and forth can actually create a community. And, that’s a powerful concept to unleash.
Think about that. Instead of just pushing out the word about each of our individual blogs, through this contest, we can come together to provide real thought leadership, knowledge and a very loud dialogue that can be heard “for miles.” Imagine if our community actually played a role in influencing others to change.
So, on that note, I’d like to suggest a call to action. The call is to bring my 31 worthy competitors together to discuss and debate any number of critical issues throughout this five-week blogging competition. And, if that works out, well… then we might just have a sustainable community. In any event, it would give us a chance to use this contest to talk about some of the most pressing issues both in our field and in our lives.
Issue number one (and topic of the day): Let’s look at the veiled and miscalculated strategy that the Chinese government is showcasing to the world surrounding its supposedly open Olympics policy, as an example of the importance of ethical behavior in a more transparent digital world. In my opinion, the government of this country is operating like a schizophrenic patient who is off his/her meds. It is abundantly clear that the government really doesn’t want to tear down the “Great Firewall of China.”
Yet, it continues to make superficial attempts (even today) to communicate that it will tell state police to stop interfering with reporters and allow for formerly restricted Internet sites to be opened.
The bitter irony is that, just a few hours after that news broke, we’ve learned that Chinese paramilitary police beat two Japanese journalists Tuesday night for absolutely no justified reason.
What we have here is a very conflicted adolescent (in China) who has only started learning how important it is to create a sustainable positive reputation among his/her peers (and on the world stage) as he/she continues to open up an economic and cultural system that never had anyone watching before. These inconsistent actions are causing many bumps, bruises and some serious broken bones along the way, though. The result is building toward the type of negative reputation that hasn’t been felt since Tiananmen Square.
I was in China when the last big earthquake took place two months ago. It was amazing to see how quickly the government responded to the crisis. And, like many media savvy politicians, its Premier took the bull by the horn (Or, in this case, he took the bull horn.), as he was seen endlessly on television news walking among the rubble of the earthquake showing victims just how much he cares. Maybe he did. But, the point is that it certainly seemed like this government understood and appreciated the need to show the world how China has changed for the better. More to the point in that particular crisis, it looked liked China had begun to master the art of public relations. My view of the government was beginning to evolve, before seeing the debacle surrounding how they government is handling the Olympics.
This example of inconsistency and veiled transparency from the Chinese government is an apt example to demonstrate what can go wrong for governments, businesses or even individuals when they assume they can keep less ethical behavior under wraps today. The Internet (in all of its glory) has brought an entirely new and tougher standard of ethics to the world of reputation that we live in. Insincerity, deceit and/or inconsistencies in actions are ferreted out quickly, all inflicting serious harm to the offender’s credibility and longer term reputation.
To me, the increased importance of ethics in public communication is one of the biggest shifts in the world we live and work in today. I think our industry could greatly benefit from a dialogue among my 31 blogging colleagues, a list that is comprised of: John Bell, Rohit Bhargava, Bite Communications, Renee Blodgett, Cone, Todd Defren, Kevin Dugan and Richard Laermer, Tim Dyson, Richard Edelman, Phil Gomes, Peter Himler, Neville Hobson, Shel Holtz , Kami Huyse, Insidedge, Rodger Johnson, Drew Kerr, Daniel Lally, Andy Lark, Livingston Communications, Lois Paul & Partners, Tom Murphy, My Creative Team, Katie Paine, Jeremy Pepper, Mark Rose, Steve Rubel, Sage Circle, Frank X. Shaw, Brian Solis, and Voce Communications.
More than that, I hope others beyond that list join into this conversation, whether about China and the Olympics in particular or the business necessity of more ethical behavior in a digital age.