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WE’s Alan VanderMolen on Davos from a comms perspective

Following the almost hourly purpose driven buzzword bingo coming out from Davos, PRmoment caught up with WE’s Alan Vandermolen on the implications for PR firms of the apparent desire for brands and governments to find their conscience.

From a reputation perspective - is it still a good thing to be seen at Davos?
If elites and brands are attending Davos for ‘reputation’ they should stop going. Davos should be about contributing knowledge and learnings to collectively address the world’s most pressing issues.  Of course, there are flaws in the construct – namely the make-up of delegates and the lack of an action-oriented agenda; however, the intent is certainly just and if delegates are committed to contributing vs. being seen, than ‘outsiders’ should hold optimism.

The need for governments and organisations to have a purpose and a conscience has been a theme of this years event. Do you get the feeling that will lead to genuine action, or is it more likely to lead to more green washing?
The overuse of ‘purpose’ has commoditized it.  Ideally, Davos should frame drivers of organisational conscience and responsible organisational behavior.  The keys to success in driving real, long-term change are:  

  1. Coming down from the mountain. Getting non-NGO delegates into the field to address the issues where they occur.
  2. Don’t amplify, activate.  Stop talking about what you will do and simply do it.  
  3. Set bold, measurable goals.  Stop the circular chatter among yourselves and make each other accountable.

How influential do you believe in-house communicators and PR firms are likely to be in helping organisations find, define and communicate their purpose?
They should be very influential in framing the agendas and holding organisations to them.  However, this all starts from the top – every CEO should look at Paul Polman and emulate.

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