World Economic Forum: Three Ways PR Can Address Global Challenges

This week, leaders from business, government and civil society are convening in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2015. What does public relations have to do with a gathering of 2,500 global leaders? Perhaps more than you think.

The theme of this year’s meeting is “The New Global Context,” and throughout the more than 280 sessions, they will examine, discuss and, most critically, determine how to address some of the world’s most pressing issues. These ten specific global challenges will be of particular focus: environment and resource scarcity; employment skills and human capital; gender parity; long-term investing, infrastructure and development; food security and agriculture; international trade and investment; future of the internet; global crime and anti-corruption; social inclusion; and future of financial systems.

Amid a year in which optimism has already been squandered by continued economic, political and social uncertainty, the gathering of these leaders, around these issues, feels ever-more critical.

But how do these global challenges apply to our work in Public Relations? Three key lessons come to mind:

1. Consumer Insights
This list of challenges helps us tap into the issues, concerns and, in some cases, fears that are permeating consumer hearts and minds. These challenges aren’t just for a global leader audience – they trickle down into the everyday lives of the consumers our clients want to reach. And by immersing ourselves in these issues, we can learn a great deal about how to be ever more relevant to our clients’ consumers. By being well-versed in what’s happening on the global agenda at-large, we can better infuse our communications with empathy and connection points to the issues that often have the most profound impact on them day-to-day.

2. Industry Insights
These challenges can also teach us a great deal about our clients and their respective industries. Many of the challenges have policy, operating and in some cases, profit implications for our clients. Better understanding the context behind these global issues allows us to provide clients with forward-thinking, long-range strategic guidance – the kind that drives long-lasting impact. In addition, we can help our clients engage in these issues and overcome any specific hurdles they may face in the process.

3. An Opportunity for Leadership
As communicators, we also have a means to help address these issues – by disseminating the facts and their importance to the masses. Through the power of communication, we can be leaders in inspiring our clients and, in-turn, their businesses and consumers, to help find solutions to these pressing issues.

The Annual Meeting 2015 takes place this week in Davos, Switzerland from 21-24 January, 2015. I’m excited to attend to support the World Economic Forum and add additional lessons to this list.

Learn more about the Annual Meeting.

Learn how to follow Davos 2015 on social media (#wef15).

Watch live webcasts; or on demand.

Laura Clementi is an expert in corporate reputation and purpose, who spent two years serving as Ketchum’s secondee to the World Economic Forum. There, she was fully embedded on the communications team, developing programs for the Forum’s global and regional events, including the Annual Meeting in Davos.