I’ve long been an admirer of Tony Blair and am very sorry to see him leave the political scene, particularly with the unfortunate cloud that seems to hang over him. His wisdom in these confounding days seems unmatched and is at its best in his retrospective essay in the June 2 issue of The Economist.
While taking on subjects far more profound and significant than crisis management, there are some important connections as well. Since public communication is a leading concern of many government agencies and since we frequently work with communicators in public agencies, his words about the changing role of the state is particularly interesting and appropriate:
“the state today needs to be enabling and based on a partnership with the citizen…public services need to go through the same revolution–professionally, culturally and in organisation–that the private sector has been through…the user has to be given real power and preference.”
That last statement in particular should be a mantra adopted by communicators and none more so than communicators in public organizations. It is the public that determines your future. The trust you enjoy, and respect, is your only real guarantee of the ability to continue your mission. More and more whether or not that trust is maintained or enhanced is on your willingness and eagerness to provide the unvarnished information they want, at their time, on their terms. Holding back, controlling, spinning, managing, doling, hiding–are all certain ways of disrupting and potentially destroying that trust.
Tony is right. The challenges ahead are daunting. Oh, for leaders who have such clear vision and the courage and strength to carry them forward into policy and action. We will miss ye.