By Meghan O’Leary
This past April, Marquette University and the Diederich College welcomed over 50 corporate communication professionals as we hosted the first ever Corporate Communication Commons event on campus. The conference, entitled Building a Corporate Conscience, examined one of the most pressing issues in today’s corporate world: the lack of public trust in corporations.
Speakers included Richard Edelman (Edelman PR), Jon Iwata (IBM), Kimberley Goode (Northwestern Mutual), Katerina Tsetsura (University of Oklahoma), Roger Bolton (Arthur Page Society), Scott D’Urso (Marquette University), Tom Beall and Bess Bezirgan (both with Ogilvy Public Relations).
The event kicked off on the evening of Thursday, April 19 with a student networking session led by Diederich College faculty member Jeremy Fyke. During the session, students had the opportunity to discuss topics such as career/college challenges and community involvement with corporate communication professionals. Afterward, the conference participants visited the jPad student lounge for an opening reception. Dean Lori Bergen welcomed the participants to the conference, and Associate Professor Sarah Feldner introduced the purpose of gathering a group of peers to discuss the common issues faced in the field of corporate communication.
On Friday, the day began with a breakfast keynote by Richard Edelman, who reflected on the need for communications professionals to become the conscience of their organizations. The message was that if people in this role are willing to actually advise the executives, they have the power to truly change organizations from within and win back public trust.
This message set the tone for the rest of the day’s presentations, and was also echoed in the words of other speakers. Kimberley Goode used Northwestern Mutual as example of how a company can thrive if it has a commitment to values and trust. In contrast, Roger Bolton mentioned Aetna as example of both what to do and what not to when trying to create a successful and trusted organization.
Other topics that emerged throughout the day included the need for corporate transparency, the use of social media, and developing a new communication model for organizations. The use of social media was a salient topic as many of the participants were tweeting throughout the day, using the #mucommons hashtag. The event concluded with “Diederich Ideas, a 30-mintue program featuring a panel discussion with the participants about the future of corporate communication.
Meghan O’Leary is a student in the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University.