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 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.
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
I was approached to run a PR course at a local university, which I did for 6 years, enjoying the teaching and learning experience. Then in 2014 I was contacted by the Deputy Director of Police Intelligence to suggest taking on a community role. Following an interview process, I was appointed CEO of Crime Stoppers in my State. Crime Stoppers is a not-for-profit organization operating in 20 countries, generally at a state 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. These reports are processed by the State Police Intelligence unit. 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.
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.
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 five international media awards as well as an award from the Web Industry Association in my country for innovations in our website that streamlined the public’s online crime reporting process. 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.