PR can ease fears about change

Kathy Hyett, president of TogoRun, returned from a leadership training program and shared her thoughts about change.

Apparently, at one of the sessions she attended, one of the faculty members said that in the past 100 or so years, three events have occurred that have made people feel as though the world was about to implode and they were standing on the precipice.

The first was the massive destruction of entire populations that happened with World War II. The second was the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis with its threat of annihilation from a nuclear holocaust.

The third seismic shift is the impact of the factors that are shaping the world we live in today. The collapse of large financial institutions, entire countries poised for bankruptcy, the bailout of banks by national governments, evictions, foreclosures, and tremendous job losses have created a culture of fear and panic. Who will lose a job or a house next and can we really depend on government to save us?

Getting comfortable with change is the challenge of the 21st century. And PR can do more than nearly any other business discipline in making this happen. Organizations need to communicate honestly with their customers to explain change and its likely impact.

PR can help social institutions regain credibility by helping them form and articulate their obligation and responsibility to people. PR can help the healthcare industry explain that huge advances in medicine have actually made the world less scary. And, even consumer packaged goods organizations can explain to the public that our food and water are better protected and safer than ever.

PR professionals have an obligation to try and help their diverse publics grapple with and become comfortable with change. This may be our finest moment.

This post originally appeared on the PRWeek Insider blog.