Psychological Safety in PR

In a new article for, Jaya Bohlmann, Linda Dunbar and I argue that at a time when keeping employees healthy is top of mind, we also need to focus on another aspect of safety that’s key to the industry’s long-term success and ultimately diversity goals – psychological safety.     


Psychological Safety in PR


Harvard professor Amy C. Edmondson’s work in this area offers a path to higher performing teams and innovation. (Read The Fearless Organization or watch her TED talk on building a psychologically safe workplace.) 

“Psychological safety” is about encouraging employees to speak up and ensuring individuals or teams are not fearful of sharing their perspective in the workplace. 

Read the article “Psychological Safety in Public Relations: Are You Encouraging Employees to Speak Up or Shut Down?

In the article we note that a Google study found that psychological safety was the most significant success factor underpinning high-performance teams across the organization.

Edmondson, who discussed psychological safety in our Marketing IMPACT Council™/ CommunicationsMatch™ COVID-19 Reset webinar series, highlighted the impact of self-censorship and what happens when individuals don’t feel it is safe to share perspective. Read the summary of the webinar featuring Edmondson. Watch the replay here.



In our article we describe why, especially during COVID-19, a focus on psychological safety should be a priority to encourage the innovation that will be required to get through these challenging times:

“When it comes to psychological safety, we are at an ‘if not now, then when’ moment. If employees do not feel they can share their ideas, concerns around returning to office spaces during the pandemic or abuse or racism they may be subject to in the workplace, companies risk missing opportunities to innovate or worse.”

Psychological safety is of critical importance if the industry is going to make progress with diversity because there are additional layers of behavior and experience around race or sexual orientation that create even higher barriers to sharing perspectives from diverse viewpoints.      

For leaders, a key takeaway is to create an environment in which employees feel as though they can share what’s on their mind when asked what they think, As long as you can handle the truth and are willing to do something to address issues you may uncover.” 

It is important to get expert help to navigate this difficult terrain. CommunicationsMatch™ partners Jaya Bohlmann and Linda Dunbar have unique experience in this area.    

Psychological safety provides a foundation for the path to innovation, alignment, diversity and inclusion.

As an industry we need to talk about it.


Simon Erskine Locke, founder & CEO of CommunicationsMatchTM 

CommunicationsMatch™ offers search tools and services to help companies find, shortlist, and hire agencies, consultants, and freelancers, and help agencies and professionals generate new business leads. During the coronavirus pandemic, CommunicationsMatch is leveraging its resources to help connect struggling not-for-profits and companies with Communications Volunteers willing to give their time to help others at no cost or discounted services. Through its partnership with the Marketing IMPACT Council™, it is offering communicators access to a unique low-cost telehealth services program from MDLIVE, as well as additional time and discounts on membership plans. Find out more at the CommunicationsMatch Insights Blog.


Jaya Koilpillai Bohlmann is president and founder of Designing Communication, MSMOB, APR, ACC, certified coach. She is a professor at University of Maryland. Bohlmann is a marketing, communication, engagement, organization development executive and coach with 20-plus years' experience working in-house and as a consultant. She has an award-winning portfolio of successes with global Fortune 500 companies, associations, non-profits and consulting firms. A CommunicationsMatch™ coaching partner, she specializes in helping companies, nonprofits and individuals clarify their brand attributes, create brand identities, and market themselves to influencers and customers. She helps professionals create career paths and find fulfilling opportunities while advising organizations on how to create their best teams.


Linda Dunbar is chief executive and founder of Diversity Decoder and a PR/corporate communications consultant and executive with global Fortune 500 experience. She is uniquely qualified to help companies interpret this moment in history and current events for business and non-profit leaders. Diversity Decoder helps companies get diversity right when it comes to communications, advertising, and product. It helps companies avoid diversity disasters caused by insensitivity and lack of understanding, and respond effectively if and when it is too late for prevention.



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