The PR trade organization The Holmes Report, Dow Jones and the PR firm Weber Shandwick put on a panel this week where a bunch of muckety mucks flew to Switzerland to say with authority that they have not the foggiest idea how businesspeople should proceed in the current environment of "populism, volatility and fake news."
They agreed that there's more pressure on CEOs take public stands social and political issues.
They agreed that CEOs need to "step up and speak out" on social issues, because society doesn't trust politicians' stances, so "it's an exciting time to rewrite some old rules.”
CEOs need to weigh in on issues quickly, without a lot of deliberation.
But of course they also agreed that CEOs need to make sure that any of public stances are carefully considered and relevant to their core business, because "it's one thing to have great corporate social responsibility, and it's another to go off on a tangent."
They agreed that corporate reputation is impossible to measure.
They called for corporations to practice what one called "advanced common sense."
And they agreed that much of what corporations say doesn't matter a damn anyway because "CEOs and corporations can put out a message, but 90% of what people see, hear and say about you is now not under your control.”
But really, what corporations ought to do is what people ought to do: Just be yourself. "If you can figure out a strategy to make sure you’re engaged with your audiences even when it’s not going OK, and you’re doing it authentically, you will probably be OK.”
It may seem like I'm cherrypicking the Holmes Report article for contradictions. I'm not. Read it for yourself. It's hilarious.
And when you finish it, you will realize: You and your company are on your own, Boy.