News & Blog - Ideas

The Communicator’s Role in Creating a Civil Society

By Michelle Olson, APR, Managing Partner

For most of us, 2020 was a year we were glad to put in the rear-view mirror. After the personal and professional challenges many of us endured over the last 12 months, 2021 brought with it a renewed sense of hope for the future.

At the same time, it has already had its share of unthinkable chaos, and we’re far from out of the woods as it relates to the deadly coronavirus. There’s no doubt that we find ourselves in a precarious position as a country.

I also believe we are at the precipice of a fundamental shift in how we identify truth, and in how we engage with and understand one another as a society. As communications professionals, we are uniquely poised to chart the path forward. Whether it be through helping our clients and organizations put their money where their mouth is when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion, or assisting leadership in understanding when to speak out and when not to, we are addressing some of the issues that have plagued our society for centuries.

It is more important than ever to use our unique position to demonstrate leadership and serve as steady voices. In our profession, timely, accurate, and truthful information – in context – is essential. We take pride in our ability to know what to say, and when and how to say it, but we have seen first-hand what happens when the channels of communication are compromised with mis/disinformation.

We must renew our commitment to combat the flow of disinformation and its destructive consequences. To do so, we must build on our own news literacy—an essential skill for navigating the information overload we are constantly experiencing. The News Literacy Project has a suite of tools available to help stop the spread of misinformation, one informed reader at a time. I encourage you to try your hand at the quizzes, tips and tools on their website.

We must all come together to restore faith in our democracy, and continue to model the importance of behaving civilly, peacefully and ethically. The world is watching, and our employers, clients and associates are relying on our guidance and our example.

We must look critically at how to create and sustain the pillars of community and fellowship that are at the core of our democracy. I know that we can come together in our collective determination to make things better.