A major objective of both the Arthur W. Page Society and its The Authentic Enterprise white paper is to stimulate dialogue that will help organizations be more authentic. Since its inception 25 years ago, the Page Society has established a solid record of providing opportunities for senior-level public relations and corporate communications executives who seek to enrich and strengthen themselves, the discipline they practice and their companies.

The Page Society also spends considerable time and effort developing those who will lead corporate communications functions in the future. Working in close cooperation with the Institute for Public Relations, Page annually co-sponsors the Public Relations Executive Forum, a unique program designed to prepare high-performing, mid-to-upper-level communications executives to manage the corporate communications or corporate public relations function. This intense two and one-half day program is designed to develop outstanding leaders for the future and to reinforce the Page Society’s mission and principles. The program provides learning and networking opportunities where rising corporate communications and public relations professionals can learn from each other.

The 2008 Public Relations Executive Forum was held May 7-9 at The Chicago Club and several of the program sessions focused on topics that are covered in The Authentic Enterprise report. One of these was a presentation about reputation given by Raymond C. Jordan, Corporate Vice President – Public Affairs and Corporate Communication, Johnson & Johnson and highlighting these three suggestions: making sure “people understand who you are and what you stand for;” doing “the right things;” and, being “seen doing the right things.”

Another Executive Forum program session with plenty of Authentic Enterprise implications was called “Thought and Leadership: The New Public Relations Agenda” and presented by Maril Gagen MacDonald, CEO, Gagen MacDonald and President of the Page Society. The main points were pointing out what distinguishes those in our field who accomplish the greatest goals, showing what enables these people to transcend limitations and push the boundaries, and explaining how to leverage communications expertise into greater leadership accomplishments.

Michael A. Fernandez, Vice President – Public Affairs, State Farm Insurance, led a unique program session about diversity. Unlike most diversity presentations that center mainly upon gender and race, Mike suggested corporate communications practitioners should put many other things into their diversity portfolios including geography, language, religion, sexual orientation, age, appearance, national origin, thought, experience and skills. He also encouraged those who conduct public relations diversity research in the future to specifically address, and make recommendations about, communications strategies for reaching diverse audiences.

Other program sessions examined how employee communications can build bridges for business, explained how to manage backlash when culture and politics collide and looked at the role new media are playing in our field. There were two presentations about recently conducted research. One of these was based upon an article about an international survey measuring how new technologies are changing public relations. It’s part of the Spring 2008 edition of PRSA’s quarterly on-line publication, Public Relations Journal. This article can be accessed at: here.. The other research presentation was based on a paper that explores the relative value of public relations as compared to advertising. This paper has been published online by the Institute and is available here.

Thirty, high-potential, up-and-coming public relations managers and directors attended representing companies such as AT&T, Avery Dennison, Entergy, FedEx, General Electric, General Motors, GMAC Financial Services, ITT Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft Foods, Michelin, Nationwide Insurance, Navistar, Northwestern Mutual, Prudential Financial, Safeco Insurance, Textron, Toyota, USAA and Waste Management.

The Executive Forum restricts registration to those employed with major corporations. The 2009 Executive Forum will be held May 6-8. A somewhat similar event, the Public Relations Leadership Forum, welcomes both corporate and agency practitioners. The next Leadership Forum is September 3-5 in San Francisco. “Graduates” of the Executive and Leadership Forum programs plus members of the Page Society and NIRI are invited to attend the upcoming Summit on Corporate Communications, June 25-27 in the Chicago area. This program will provide an in-depth examination of The Authentic Enterprise. This event is cosponsored by the Page Society, the Institute and NIRI.