• When two or more organizations are vying for the same things – customers, employees, funders, etc—it’s called competition.
• When two or more groups are fighting against each other, or if one group is wrestling with itself it’s called conflict.
• When two or more groups have prolonged debate over opinions or beliefs, it’s called a controversy
And when a organization is at risk of losing things that are important – life, property, money, reputation – it’s called a crisis.
The question is not if an organization will be faced with competition, conflict, controversy or crisis, it’s when. And the success of any organization will be directly determined by how well it takes on competitors, deals with conflict and controversy, and addresses crisis. These are the definitive challenges for all organizations and for their leaders.
To successfully navigate the world of the 4 C’s, organizations must:
• Employ a powerful “antenna,” to understand the needs of customers, employees and all those whose attention and trust they seek to secure.
• Engage a strong conscience to make moral decisions and meet social and ethical norms of the communities they seek to belong to.
• Project a powerful voice to clearly articulate a defined vision, both for today and tomorrow.
Certainly, there a multitude of professions that can help address elements of competition, conflict, controversy, and crisis, but it’s the public relations profession that strives to serve as the antenna, conscience and voice of organizations and all other clients. Public relations is more than press releases and tweets, it is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships.
Interestingly, the unifying element of competition, conflict, controversy, and crisis – beyond their importance to any organization – is where the power resides in each. That power does not occupy board rooms or the c-suite and does not involve courtrooms or statehouses, the power is with those we seek to serve. To successfully win the competition for customers, employees or funding, to effectively manage conflict and controversy, and to skillfully handle crises, organizations and their leaders must understand the simple but powerful truth that organizations need public relations to help them establish mutually beneficial relationships and gain the permission of their various publics. And without those relationships, organizations will not be successful at dealing with the 4C’s.