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Organizational Listening

The Missing Essential in Public Communication

Jim Macnamara

Organizations, which are central in contemporary industrialized and post-industrial societies, including government departments and agencies, corporations, and non-government organizations, claim to want and practice two-way communication, dialogue, and engagement with citizens, customers, employees, and other stakeholders and publics. But do they in reality? Voice – speaking up – is recognized as fundamental for democracy, representation, and social equity. But what if governments, corporations, institutions, and NGOs are not listening? This book reports the findings of a two-year, three-continent study that show that public and private sector organizations devote substantial and sometimes massive resources to construct an ‘architecture of speaking’ through advertising, PR, and other public communication practices, but listen poorly, sporadically, and sometimes not at all. Beyond identifying a ‘crisis of listening’ in modern societies, this landmark study proposes and describes how organizations need to create an architecture of listening to regain trust and re-engage people whose voices are unheard or ignored. It presents a compelling case to show that urgent attention to organizational listening is essential for maintaining healthy democracy, organization legitimacy, business sustainability, and social equity. This research is essential reading for all scholars, students, and practitioners involved in politics; government, corporate, marketing, and organizational communication; public relations; and all those interested in democratic participation, media, and society.


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Appendix 1: Interview Question Guide The Organizational Listening Project Introduction and Organization-Public Communication Overview: 1. Name: [to be de-identified post analysis] 2. Title/role: 3. Organization: [to be de-identified post analysis] 4. Time in role: 5. Do you have a strategic communication plan with clear objectives and targets? 6. What are the main public communication activities that your orga- nization engages in as part of its public communication? (List major communication activities in overview) 7. Is your organization committed to two-way communication? (Yes/no; if yes, where is this stated?) 8. Do you attempt to or profess to achieve engagement, dialogue, or conversation with stakeholders and/or key publics in your public communication? 318 organizational listening 9. How do you attempt two-way communication, engagement, dia- logue, and/or conversation? (in overview, note details are sought in the next section) 10. Do you have a KPI in your organization’s strategic communication plan or other plans (e.g., stakeholder engagement, customer service) that relates to listening in the sense of seeking, receiving, considering, acknowledging, and responding to stakeholders or members of the public? Methods of Organizational Listening: Which of the following do you use? 1. Formative research such as market research, social research, reputa- tion studies, or other types of research. If so, specify which: a. Surveys (of whom, how often) b. Focus groups (of whom, how often) c. Interviews (of whom, how often) d. Reputation tracking (of whom, how often) e. Other research (please specify). 2. Social media monitoring. If so: a. How is this done...

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