Oral Histories

Bruce Harrison

Interview Segments on Topic: Characteristics/Qualities of PR Professionals

Bruce Harrison Biography

Bruce Harrison, author of Corporate Greening 2.0: Create and Communicate Your Company's Climate Change and Sustainability Strategies (2008) and Going Green: How to Communicate Your Company's Environmental Commitment (1993), has been called the pioneer of corporate greening.

Bruce has provided counsel on greening/sustainability matters to more than 50 Fortune 500 companies over the course of his career as vice president of Freeport-McMoran, CEO of his Washington-based consultancy, and founder/franchiser of EnviroComm International in the U.S. and Europe. He was the first executive director of the Arthur W. Page Society, comprising senior corporate communications executives, and has since 1998 worked as a team member creating Green Diesel Technology® products at Navistar International. Bruce assists companies in connecting with effective EnviroComm professional counselors.

Bruce is a frequent speaker on greening and sustainability. His lecture, "Factors Favoring Chief Communication Officers Involvement in Climate Change and Sustainability Issues", was recognized as the best paper presented by a practitioner at the 2008 Corporate Communication International conference at Wroxton College, England.

He was recognized by PRWeek in 2001 as one of the "Top 100 Most Influential PR People of the 20th Century" for his work with companies in environmental and social responsibility.

Transcript

Ahern: Actually it is certainly great to see two sides coming together, which is necessary and the role of communications and public relations and in how they make that happen. I would like to ask you a few questions now about your career and your professional development of your career, and how it’s impacting your views on the practice. What would you say are some of the important enduring truths that you’ve learned during your career that have helped guide your practice?

Harrison: Great truths. One of the ones that I came to realize is that it’s better to assume that everybody knows everything all the time rather than assume I know more than they do and I have to tell them about it. The longer I practice public relations the more I learn to listen more than I talk. And if I just, what I tell my kids and what I’ve told employees, the first guys just listen. Listen to what the problem is, so the enduring truth is. Listen first, talk later. Figure out what it is, the concern is and how you can address it. Another enduring truth, if that’s what we’re looking for, is that you can’t do it by yourself. You need help, and every company knows that. Every communicator knows that. The idea is to try, to kind of create stakeholders, and my personal success – I do that through friendship listening to others. Folks like the Arthur Page Society, Arthur Page himself, reading books and trying to assimilate, how that’s relevant to me and what makes sense. And I grew up happy to say, proudly to say, grew up in a home where ethics, honesty, in a Christian home, formed some cultural, societal, capital appreciation that has endured for me, and will endure.