Here’s how it happened
I had developed a career in corporate communication management and consulting when a fellow pro asked if I would like to help teach a corporate PR unit at a local university, and so I agreed. I was running my own busy consulting business after moving from interstate, but still had some flexibility to fit in the teaching.
A local publisher approached me to produce my own textbook from the course material, and then international publisher Palgrave Macmillan contracted me to write a book for them. So I wrote the 900-page book Strategic Public Relations, which was published in 2011 and used as a textbook in a dozen universities.
A little about me
In the various leadership positions I have held during my career, I have always believed it is really important to listen genuinely to other people’s point of view and always to engage in teamwork with others. Too many communicators speak on behalf of their organization as a one-way activity rather than effectively listening carefully to those who want to engage with them.
Giving rather than receiving
During my career I’ve been very active within the communication profession, organizing the professional development program in my State for 7 years, and becoming State President and a national Board member of the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA). In 2007, I was elected a Fellow of the PRIA for a distinguished contribution to the profession. In 2018 and 2019, I was a judge of the PRIA Golden Target Awards, the national annual awards for excellence.
In the news
Since founding my website in 2005, I have written many articles based on my own practical business experience and on the latest communication research and expert commentary. My articles have been quoted in the New York Times and various other news media, as well as by communicators around the world. As part-time CEO of Crime Stoppers non-profit organization in 2014-17, my main role was to highlight the service to the public and gain media coverage on crime-related matters. This linked closely with my knowledge of issue and crisis management developed during my career. More below!
My wife Linda and I love traveling. Travel obliges you to place your trust in other people, and to freshly view their way of life and their culture. Playing and coaching in sport has also been a big part of my lifelong learning experience.
Communication is complex
Good communication and productive relationships are essential in professional life. I agree totally with the view of Professor Anne Gregory, former Chair of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management, who said:
“The communication profession is the living embodiment of complexity. Communication is complex, fluid and often misunderstood. It is a function, but it is also a central part of organizations and organizing in a way that other professions are not. It is perfectly possible for organizations to operate without buildings, money or products, but it is not possible for them to exist without communication.”
As communication is so complex and important, I have taken a lifelong interest in learning about it and helping to strengthen people’s communication knowledge and application so they can achieve personal and professional success.
Good communication reduces crime rates
In 2014, I was approached to become CEO of Crime Stoppers in my State. Crime Stoppers is a not-for-profit organization operating in 20 countries, generally at a state or provincial level. This unique community service enables members of the public to make an anonymous phone or online report about a suspicious activity or unsolved crime. People making reports don’t provide their contact information unless they wish to. Phone calls aren’t traced, and IP addresses aren’t recorded for online reports. In this way, people don’t need to endure lengthy and stressful legal processes or potential public attention as witnesses in court cases.
These anonymous reports are processed by the State Police Intelligence unit. Such contacts from the community have helped police to identify drug labs and dealers, catch wanted fugitives, solve arson, thefts and robberies, and apprehend criminals wanted for violent assaults and murders. About 50% of police intelligence information in my State originates from Crime Stoppers, and half of these reports are about drug crime. Unless urgent action is needed, police don’t act on a single report; they need a report to be validated by information from other people. This helps to minimize the number of crank or nuisance contacts.
How it all began
In 1976, in Albuquerque, the capital of US State New Mexico, a detective grew frustrated by the lack of progress in solving a shooting murder during a service station robbery. There were no witnesses, so police arranged a re-enactment of the murder on local TV, and people with information were promised anonymity and a possible cash reward if the information led to an arrest. A person then came forward, reporting they had seen a car driving off which belonged to a nearby resident. Police were able to arrest two men and charge them with the murder and a string of other armed robberies.
Photo: Kim Harrison holding award presented by Chris Dawson, State Police Commissioner.
How did I become involved with Crime Stoppers? Well, it was because I am experienced in corporate communication management. The prime role of the CEO is to increase public awareness, trust, and use of the service. Crime Stoppers in my State is funded by the State and federal government and sponsors. My role was to maintain good relationships with them, as well as to obtain sponsorship. All these are PR skills.
I enjoyed the work, learnt a lot, and received international media awards as well as an award from the Web Industry Association in my country for the innovations in our website. After retiring, I felt honored to receive an award from Crime Stoppers in November 2020 for my “contribution as CEO to 25 years of Crime Stoppers” in my State.
Photo: Newspaper coverage on 21 November 2020 of police raids on a big drug gang, which resulted from reports by members of the public to Crime Stoppers. This operation was so big it took the police 12 weeks to collect all the evidence they needed for prosecutions. The outcome was 19 arrests and 380 charges, which also impacted on the higher echelon of drug suppliers and manufacturers in the State.