Communication in a Post-Truth World


Recorded 25 April 2017

This panel of communication professionals from around the world will discuss strategies and solutions for handling organizational communication in a world where “fake news” and “alternative facts” are common terms. Some brands have found themselves stuck in the middle of controversies they didn’t ask for, while others have made the conscious choice to take a stand on issues that strike at the heart of their brand values.

The group will discuss recent world events and what they mean to a profession that is guided to make consistent, responsible, ethical and legal choices. The IABC Code of Ethics states, “As a professional communicator, you have the potential to influence economies and affect lives. This power carries with it significant responsibilities.” The code also states “I am honest—my actions bring respect for and trust in the communication profession” and “I communicate accurate information and promptly correct any error.” How can a communication professional follow through on these commitments if a new norm makes it acceptable to deliver an alternative version of the truth?


Moderator/Shel Holtz, founded Holtz Communication + Technology in 1996 after 20 years with Fortune 500 companies and global consulting firms. He specializes in strategic communication with an emphasis on internal communication and the use of digital and social media for enhancing employee communication. Holtz is a prolific blogger, a pioneer podcaster, and author of six communication books. He is a Fellow of IABC, the Society for New Communication Research, and The Mayo Clinic Social Media Network.

Panelist/Heather Wilson, is an executive vice president and managing director of MWW’s Global Crisis & Issues Management Practice.  She also leads the firm’s strategic communication group which encompasses financial communication, financial services and investor relations. Wilson has counseled companies on highly complex and sensitive matters including: product and food recalls; high-profile litigation; major disasters and airline crashes; cybersecurity attacks; government investigations, and hostile M&A. Before beginning her career in crisis management, she was a journalist for a number of news outlets, most recently with CBS MarketWatch. Wilson began her career on Capitol Hill as a congressional staffer.

Panelist/Katherine Bradshaw, is head of communications at the Institute of Business Ethics (IBE). She is the author of two IBE Good Practice Guides on this topic: Communicating Ethical Values: An IBE Good Practice Guide and Developing and Using Business Ethics Scenarios: An IBE Good Practice Guide. These Good Practice Guides include case studies and examples of the practical ways in which companies communicate ethics.

Panelist/Anelia Varela, heads up The Writer’s U.S. office and is helping brands like Unilever, Cisco, Google and Electronic Arts realize the power of words to change how people see them, stand out from the crowd, make their customers happier, shape their culture, and even make and save money in the process. In her 19-year career, Varela’s thoughts and words have appeared in books, newspapers, design annuals, magazines, blogs, and up the sides of Guinness bottles.