Compassionate disruption: the challenge to PR
Conjure up in your mind the SxSW digital festival recent held in Austin Texas. What comes to mind? Who might be hanging out? You might imagine hacking hipsters or dress-down corporate suits hunting the latest innovation. Not a slightly academic looking middle age man with grey hair who turned out to be a bishop. Compassionate disruption
Bishop Paul Tighe is the Vatican’s man in charge of its burgeoning social media channels. He tweets the Pope. And, what he had to say at SXSW is a challenge to PRs everywhere. Irregardless of belief in his church’s message. Compassionate disruption
In a great BBC interview with him, by Dave Lee [@daveleebbc], the bishop talked about ‘compassionate disruption’. Not only is it keyword-tastic, it shows a knack for not only a sound bite but also for some strategic comms – making sure his church’s corporate narrative was heard loud and clear. Ever since he became head of the Catholic Church, the Pope has consistently described the changes he his making to the world’s oldest denomination as ‘compassionate disruption’. Now there’s a phrase made for Twitter.
The Bishop also highlighted the rise of “user generated culture” in our society. And, with that sound bite he really is onto something. Digital begats cultural change – for good and bad. For every Wikipedian capturing knowledge, a troll’s a’trollin.
And those user generated cultures are the context for our communications. How should a company or client engage with such society? Can it be mutually beneficial? Generating social value and value for the business?
What is clear from Bishop’s Paul’s observation is that we now have to meet with multiple digital cultures. This challenges the corporate social responsibility worldview of many companies. The time for the monolithic plan with a single simple focus is over. CSR needs to be multi-faceted. Communication of it, and the engagement it generates, need to be reconfigurable if it is to be relevant to this user generated cultures. I’ll be discussing these themes at PRFest in June. I hope you can join me.
Nick Jones is founder of For the Knowing of the How Ltd, He is currently helping HS2 use the right digital communications to reach the communities along its route. Previously, he was head of corporate responsibility for Visa in Europe. He also served as the head of digital communications at 10 Downing Street.