Citing influences as diverse as James Collins (author of Built to Last and Good to Great) and James Grunig (the University of Maryland communications professor who has developed relationship management and measurement systems), it’s clear the Socom principals David and Sheila Hawkins are not typical public relations professionals—which might have something to do with the fact that both of them were teachers before they entered the PR business. No surprise then that Socom is anything but a typical public relations firm, focused on issues management and more specifically stakeholder engagement.
Founded in 1994, when the concept of community consultation was still in its infancy, Socom has a 14-year heritage of helping companies (and some government clients) engage with a wide range of stakeholders, with particular experience in reaching out to Australia’s indigenous populations. The past few years have seen the development of several proprietary processes and tools, including ORDA, a survey-based stakeholder relationship measurement tool that was seven years in development that helps to diagnose problems and suggests ways in which companies can change their behavior to eliminate them.
With 20 people, Socom is now one of the larger firms in the Melbourne market, and in 2007 appointed Kelley White—as veteran of Blue Horizon and more recently principal of her own consulting business—as general manager of a new