FIR Interview: Roger Bolton and Matt Gonring on Authentic Advocacy

Authentic Advocacy

Gauging the latest developments in stakeholder engagement theory and practice – and understanding their implications for those leading, managing and advising the communications function – is a primary goal of Authentic Advocacy, the latest research report from the Arthur W. Page Society.

Authentic Advocacy offers an in-depth look at how stakeholder engagement strategies are evolving and how Chief Communication Officers can best undertake them within their enterprise. It includes compelling findings about the nature of stakeholder engagement in today’s environment, learned through interviews conducted with CCOs at five leading companies – Cargill, Chevron, Lundbeck, Southwest Airlines and USAA. The report offers seven action steps for CCOs to consider when devising their approach to building and maintaining these critical stakeholder relationships.

In this FIR interview, co-hosts Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz discuss the Authentic Advocacy report with Arthur W. Page Society president, Roger Bolton, and Matt Gonring, co-chair of Page’s Stakeholder Engagement Workstream, and consider some of the challenges and opportunities the report highlights for CCOs, and the transformation required in the way companies operate and engage with their stakeholders.

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About our Conversation Partners

Roger BoltonRoger Bolton is the president of the Arthur W. Page Society, the premier professional association for senior corporate communications executives. Members include the chief communications officers of the world’s major corporations, the CEOs of the most influential public relations agencies and leading academics from select business and communications schools.

Previously, he served as senior vice president of communications at Aetna, a $35 billion provider of health care benefits, with responsibility for all internal and external communications, advertising, brand management and corporate public involvement. Before Aetna, Bolton was IBM’s director of corporate media relations and director of communications for the IBM server and software groups.

Prior to his business career, Bolton served as assistant secretary of the Treasury for public affairs under President George H.W. Bush, assistant US trade representative for public affairs in the Executive Office of the President under President Reagan, and special assistant to President Reagan in the White House, with responsibility for the president’s relations with business and labor. He is a recipient of the US Treasury Distinguished Service Award.

Matt GonringAs a seasoned corporate executive, Matthew Gonring has a proven record of accomplishments derived from more than 35 years of experience building and leading marketing and corporate communications teams in manufacturing, consumer goods, professional/financial services, healthcare and airlines.

Matt most recently served as VP Corporate Communications with Jackson National Life, a $25 billion leader in financial services and the largest underwriter of variable annuities in the US. Prior to that he served as Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for Pactiv Corporation, a $3.4 billion leader in the consumer and foodservice packaging markets. Late in 2010, the company was acquired by Reynolds Group Holdings Limited, and Matt joined Jackson.

Matt holds a Masters degree in Public Relations from the School of Business, American University in Washington, DC, and Bachelor of Science degree in Communications and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin/Stevens Point. He is a member of the Graduate Faculty, Integrated Marketing Communications Program, at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and currently serves on the graduate faculty at George Washington University. He currently is on the Board of Directors of the Arthur W. Page Society, and Chairman Emeritus of the Institute for Public Relations.

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This FIR Interview is brought to you with Lawrence Ragan Communications, serving communicators worldwide for 35 years. Information:

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(Cross-posted from For Immediate Release, Shel’s and my podcast blog.)

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

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