Communications and Public Affairs - AssimilatingTwo Solitudes

This week I will be making a presentation to the national practice meeting of Hill & Knowlton's Canadian public affairs practice. The working title is 'Integrating Corporate Communications and Public Affairs', although I'd like to find something more terse and less mechanical. I will be expected to examine the relationship between the disciplines, which have hitherto often seemed to be two solitudes. (You need to be Canadian to undertsand fully that allusion.)

So far on a quiet and hot Saturday afternoon in Toronto, in between marking papers for the M.B.A. program I teach, I've managed to float a few hypotheses . . . in no particular order:

  1. Corporate communications offers public affairs (when interpreted as 'government relations') knowledge of the value of message discipline.

  2. The two disciplines share a need to build, make visible and sustain organizational credibility.

  3. Practised properly, corporate communications finds ways to encourage and harness public trust, the sine qua non of an effective government influence strategy.

  4. Both our domains will have to get better at integrating digital strategies into our campaigns because as one of my students put it in her paper "The borderless, participatory community of the Internet is both powerfully positive and negative."

 I will go with these as my starting point . . . with the hope that others point me in new directions.

Reputation and Trust

Different Worlds