In my travels, I’ve discovered that you cannot go anywhere without the US presidential elections popping up in the conversation, even in seemingly unrelated topics or circumstances. The most recent example happened in New York at the end of June when Echo ran the first in a series of round-tables for the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) to inform its Gold Paper on Globalization and Public Diplomacy. The theme clearly parallels Page’s Authentic Enterprise conclusions, and considers the drivers and implications from the perspective of those at the PR helm of global corporations. Representing some 1,100 individual members in 100 countries, IPRA uses its Gold Papers to contribute to the ‘science beneath the art’ of international public relations, to borrow a phrase from the Institute for Public Relations. Since 1973, fifteen Gold Papers have appeared on topics such as Ethics, Research Standards, Education, Green Communication, Quality and Customer Satisfaction Public Relations, and Challenges in CSR. On this occasion, IPRA’s globalization gold paper will be presented at the 18th IPRA World Congress in Beijing on 13- 15 November 2008.

Gathering many Page Board members alongside other senior global CCOs around this topic, the recent hour long exchange in New York concluded that the practice of Public Relations must learn and draw from the world of politics. Be it Obama or McCain, global practitioners need to reflect the consultative style of senior politicians – learning to balance often conflicting and competing demands from a multitude of stakeholders to arrive at a consensus and coalition of support both internally and externally. Successful Public Relations, like successful presidential candidates, need to be as much about listening and being influenced, as influencing and guiding, in order to support organizations in this increasingly technologically connected and fragmented world. Given the focus of the panel, it probably wasn’t a surprise that the required changes in approach and behavior mirror the findings of the Authentic Enterprise. As the round-tables move to London and Zurich next month, I will listen with great interest if this perhaps American and topical perspective is echoed among other global Public Relations leaders.