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Communicating Leadership During the Fourth Industrial Revolution at the World Economic Forum

January 25, 2019

We are at the beginning of a revolution that is fundamentally changing how we live, work and relate to one another and that has been the focus at this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos. Many of the sessions covered a myriad of areas relating to this topic, including the impact on how mental health, under the theme Globalisation 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and spanned from how technology is changing lives to environmental issues such the impact of ocean pollution.

”In this setting, the world’s top leaders in politics, business and think tanks, converge to problem-solve the world’s most pressing issues within half-hour time frames,” said Jan Rasmussen, FleishmanHillard’s Americas lead for the Global Media Council, “making it critical for communications experts, such as FleishmanHillard, to break through the clutter and ensure our client’s voices are heard.”

Many may say that this is just another talk shop but with FleishmanHillard having been at this year’s meeting, a number of significant elements worth noting about the WEF platform have been discovered.

Indeed WEF aims to improve the state of the world by bringing together heads of states, high ranking government officials and leaders of multinational businesses across the globe to address the problems facing the world. If you disagree, the question to ask yourself is, why would such a busy group of important people take time off to fly and spend three days in an extremely cold climate to achieve nothing?

“I believe it starts with a conversation. The more we talk about problems facing the world, the more we are prompted to act, however little it may be. Rome was not built in a day. The meeting is smartly curated in order to get the best out of each session, meeting and engagement opportunity”, exclaims Trevor Chueu, associate director in FleishmanHillard’s Johannesburg office.

While this may seem like a science, there are scientists behind all of the action and those scientists, in this case, are the public engagement team members and their communications role.

The communications department of an organisation is equally important as any other department, such as operations or finance, yet many professionals take it for granted. It was the communications department that was responsible for the crafting of the conference programme, the compilation of the session structures, briefing of the spokespeople as well as speakers, procuring media partnerships and shaping the messages that were supposed to be communicated to respective stakeholders, including the media.

“I can confirm that without the communications personnel of WEF, the conversations at the gathering would have not been structured and packaged as effectively as they were to help shape a narrative that can ignite action,” said Chueu.

If you have ever doubted the significance of the communications function in an organisation or at a talk shop, now you no longer have a reason. The communications team are the backbone of not only starting the right conversation but influencing a thought process that encourages change not only during the event but in the months following and into the next year’s conference.

“The highest skill in media relations is required as the conversation shifts by the moment and by the leader, making it all the more critical to know how the attending media cover the variety of topics and strategically inserting your client into the conversation at the right time and at the right moment with the right message,” Rasmussen said.