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Is the world of the communicator shrinking or expanding?

Communication must be based on truth and knowledge. Communicators must be the first ones to acquire and to use true knowledge effectively -- knowledge of history, human and social processes, technology, economy, culture and politics. But how can communicators learn what is relevant in the information mess we are confronted with? I do not know, but experience helps.

Communicators must be the first ones to understand and accept that the era of quick fixes is past. We are back to the arduous work of building long-term relations based on confidence and earned trustworthiness.

This advice is based upon my own experience as the founder in 1982 of Communicativa, a communication consultancy, and as a member of Euro PR. I have belonged to IABC since 1974, and was accredited (ABC) in 1976. My perspective is this: I live in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, one of the small countries at the northern fringes of Europe. I work as a consultant, everyday facing clients of many nations with international, mostly pan-European communication problems.

Every single day of the week I am in communication with my colleagues in our pan-European network, Euro PR. All 60 of us in the network have to face a shrinking world thanks to political, economic, technical and social/cultural developments.

This is what I mean:

Less than two years ago most of us were convinced that the world of our future would consist of the countries in the Common Market, EC, with some additional ones like Austria and Sweden, EFTA, and to some extent, the non-European OECD-countries, in particular Japan and the U.S.

Then, all of a sudden, the glasnost policies of Gorbachev turned Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia into democracies. Our world grew bigger -- it became possible also to operate in these countries. So we do.

A year ago our German Euro PR colleague overnight saw her country almost double in size and space when the two Germanys became one state again. She immediately took off for Berlin and Leipzig. Now we can provide services there.

About the same time, the borders of the still existing U.S.S.R. opened to some extent. The U.S.S.R. came closer. Cautiously. Then three more countries reappeared -- the Baltic states. Our Finnish Euro PR colleagues suddenly had some special requests to cope with. So did we in Stockholm, the Baltic states having old historical ties to Sweden.

And now three new Slavonic states reappear after some 250 years in the Russian empire -- Byelorussia, The Ukraine and Russia. Other new-old republics have said they will want to join. The consequences to Euro PR: Clients are requesting our services in these "new" markets.

Back to the shrinking process. The world is shrinking in the sense that technology permits literally everybody access to the same information at the same time; and shrinking in the sense that anybody with enoughn money can travel almost anywhere.

But the world is also shrinking in the sense that there are more political and economic refugees on a global basis than ever before; shrinking in the sense that there are more starving pople than ever before; shrinking in the sense that the population explosion continues and more and more people demand space, food, clothes, homes, and all the paraphernalia modern technology churns out to the benefit of the consumers. (That is, the rich ones!) The world also is shrinking from the point of view that the have-nots are better informed than ever before about the comforts enjoyed by the rich. And the poor do not expect to be left out much longer, as proven by the increasing number of refugees.

Our world is shrinking in the sense that pollution and waste are no longer local affairs; they affect us all. Chernobyl taught us that. Bhopal did.

Even politics and political decisions are no longer local. Conflicts seem to become international, sooner or later. Iraq is the prime example, so far.

Communicators, whatever they are based, have a lot to do this environment. Nobody can afford to say: "This is not my business." It already is, don't you think?
COPYRIGHT 1992 International Association of Business Communicators
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Section 4: Communicate Globally by Communicating Locally
Author:Holst, Gull-May
Publication:Communication World
Date:Feb 1, 1992
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