Today, my op-ed was published in the Barks and Bites section of the Daily Dog.
My thesis: There are two philosophies of public relations. One camp sees itself as a broker between an organization and its stakeholders to find mutually beneficial solutions, while the other sees itself building and preserving the image of an organization by pleading its predetermined case.
As the crucible of a crisis often will, the wildfires brought out the best in those who were prepared, and the worst in those who were not. Take the Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, for example. The first quietly innovated and tested new ways to communicate with constituents, while the other continued its focus on business-as-usual message control.
I used the Red Cross and FEMA as my examples, but the more broad point was that as communicators we are increasingly faced with the choice to either build new bridges with people or work to deceive them. Some even call this deception an art, but I think true art is working to find the place where the interests of an organization and its communities intersect.