Jean ValinMy first dabble in collaboration on a global scale with stakeholders came with the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management (GA) tackling the issue of ethics by researching whether a global code of ethics was feasible and desirable to strengthen the profession.  With the help of an international task force we examined the content of existing codes of ethics from different parts of the world.

That was in 2001 and little did I realize this would be the first of many collaborative research efforts undertook by the GA. In the same year, GA chair Toni Muzi Falconi sought to research the extent of hard and soft regulations on public relations practices by governments or other entities.  This was a collaborative effort with the UK organization now called the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa.

Fast forward to 2013 and this framework of global collaboration is now evident in almost all of our interactions- not only in GA which became both a pioneer but also a product of this drive to collaborate globally. In fact, the GA has become, mostly by necessity, a leader in collaborative research.

Toni Muzi Falconi and his excellent collaborators brilliantly describes this trend in this latest book: Global Stakeholder Relationships Governance: An Infrastructure.

The progression to this model that is now solidly entrenched not only in civil society but in business models has been steady and increasingly pervasive. It should come as no surprise given that many of us have advocated the two-way symmetrical model of communication as an ideal for many years. Only now with the advent of stakeholder engagement do we see the benefits of this theory put into practice.

Since that first foray in global research, the GA has amassed a wealth of interesting research, which supports the notion that global collaboration is the way to ensure relevance and greater impact. Let us briefly examine some of the GA research over the years:

The global code of ethics is the result of an examination by a task force of several members of GA to analyse and distill the essence of codes of ethics in use throughout the world. One of the results was the adoption of a minimum global code of ethics which itself is based on the strongest and most consistent core elements of ethical practice.

The examination of core competencies measured by organisations offering the APR and ABC was the GA’s second effort at collaborative research. It produced agreement on a set of seven core competencies that must be included in examination processes.

The first two World Public Relations Festivals (now Forums) were also the result of collaborative research. Ethics was chosen as the theme of the first WPRF to support the GA’s drive to a global code of ethics, which is now a requirement to membership in the GA. The second theme was diversity, which is a pursuit that still eludes us today but nonetheless crucial to the credibility and make-up of our profession. If you are wondering why diversity was chosen, it was the result of GA’s survey of member organizations that were pre-occupied with all aspects of diversity in our profession.

No doubt the GA’s ‘magnus opi’ in collaborative efforts and research are the two seminal attempts at describing and proclaiming the profession’s role, and by extension, its core definition and raison d’être. The Stockholm Accords in 2010 was the result of a massive effort to link practitioners and academics through a series of webinars and global conferencing to arrive at a set of core elements of public relations practice, which everyone could agree on.

Two years later, the Melbourne Mandate followed in these footsteps and took a different look at our profession through the lens of defining the value that we bring to an organization while spelling out the role and responsibilities of PR’s in modern organizations.

In parallel to the Melbourne Mandate, I was fortunate to work in 2012 on a global benchmarking exercise for GA and on behalf of its sponsor- Enel. We had chosen multi-national corporations that were admired for their excellence in public relations and sought to glean the main characteristics of their practices, governance structure, core PR infrastructure hard and soft and identifies key elements of their corporate culture. The goal was to equip Enel with relevant information to help them restructure their PR organization based on best practices. What was surprising however was the extent to which the emerging themes of the Melbourne Mandate: Living the values of the organization and participating in its development, a listening infrastructure designed to facilitate engagement and a strong sense of ethics and responsibilities were apparent in many of the companies we interviewed. These fines examples have made their way in this latest book from Muzi Falconi and his collaborators.

All of the GA’s research reports are available at:

The importance of collaboration and stakeholder engagement is evident and now mainstream with several organizations. It is a practice that supports two-way symmetrical communication. It is showing us the way for future efforts-not just on a global scale- but as a way to engage with stakeholders and build reputation through actions that are in the public interest.


Jean Valin, APR, FCPRS, is Principal Associate of Valin Strategic Communications and is a founding member of the Global Alliance.

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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