I addressed the National Press Club today in Washington. My topic is a familiar one... flagging trust in institutions.
I made five important points.
First, business must step into the void left by government on pressing issues for society such as automation and environment, and the information deficit left by a diminished and less credible mainstream media.
Second, business needs to act differently... to change its fundamental model to get beyond the Milton Friedman short term thinking so that it uses its agility, innovation and supply chain to make money and serve society.
Third, business should fund collaborative journalism. This will enable them to be subject specialists in areas of comparative advantage and to offer a platform for consumers and employees to freely critique products and workplace conditions. This must be in plain language and present both sides of arguments. No corporate speak.
Fourth, the PR industry should be a vital partner in the evolution of business. We should have a positive agenda to fight for the future and not defend the past. We must also push for a high standard for ethics in business. We should help make a company's employees the first stakeholder to get information as they are the most trusted source in the peer-to-peer world. To be a credible partner the PR industry must take care in choosing its clients. Not every client deserves representation in the court of public opinion.
Fifth, I propose a PR Compact that will be based on fact-based communication, with both sides presented and facts checked; transparency on client and interest of client; an open exchange on public platforms to inform the populace; and finally, a commitment to ethics training on a free basis such as Khan Academy.
We need to do this. Trust is at a melting point with dispersion of authority and deep disregard for experts. Only action by business and an informed populace can save the day.
This article was originally published on www.edelman.com.