12. Community Relations
Community Relations is one of the most recent departments of the modern firm, consequence of mass communications and the greatly increasing wealth and power of the corporation in society since the mid-20th century. The subspecialty in Management & Leadership of Community Relations Management is a very rewarding practice area for those drawn to communications and strategy that will benefit the firm’s stakeholders and community, improve the public face of the organization, and create opportunities to build lasting relationships and loyalty. In addition to public relations, it often works to employee engagement with the community and to broadly instill principles of corporate social responsibility.
For most of the 20th century, public engagement by large firms was limited mainly to corporate communications, public relations, and philanthropy, typically via one-way, firm-to-public interactions. But the web’s growing social and mobile technologies now allow far more two-way interactions between firms and their communities.
In addition to feedback systems in marketing and customer service, most large firms now need such community strategies as social media teams, corporate social responsibility and sustainability programs, and employee engagement efforts for these and other community programs. Dave Kerpen’s Likeable Social Media (2011) is a popular guide to helpful, friendly and respectable community engagement, communication and brand management on social platforms. David Scott’s The New Rules of Marketing and Public Relations, 2013, is another useful guide to blending organizational marketing and community engagement functions on the modern web.
Hopefully this brief survey of foresight functions, challenges, and frontiers at the departmental level has highlighted the great variety and value of modern organizational foresight work. As a practitioner in any of the social roles we have described (Creative, Entrepreneur, Consultant, Academic, Organizational Leader) you can bring foresight to every department of the firm, and use that foresight to create competitive advantage. Let’s now look at a few good diagnostics that can help you discover your strengths (talents and traits), and ways to use them to best advantage in foresight practice.