Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

Live Feed Into a Digital Life

On Sunday evening, my wife Jan and I attended Vesper’s at the Bay View Association, a 137-year-old Chautauqua founded by Michigan Methodists on Lake Michigan near Petoskey. A Bay View staple since the 1800s when families gathered at the end of the day to sing hymns, this ongoing tradition has evolved into a magnificently eclectic concert series.

I was reminded at this gathering that it’s a privilege to live and work “Up North” in Michigan during much of the summer. Although it’s easy to become distracted in such a beautiful natural environment, I remain solidly connected online, on my mobile phone and via FedEx with colleagues and clients throughout the world. Technology enables me.

My life and especially my work in strategic communications has become, to a great extent, a virtual enterprise.


Strategic Communications Defined

It has been said that “strategic communications” is used with such ubiquity that the term becomes almost meaningless.

Granted, the term has a wide range of definitions, influenced by personal and professional preferences, but the precise definition is less important than the concept, and calling it “meaningless” is akin to throwing the baby out with the bathwater. (more…)

Trends in Trust – A Call to Action

CEOs look to us – look to you – to be, if not the smartest person in the room, certainly able to make some very serious judgments often under crisis circumstances when there is a great deal on the line. We have to approach that responsibility with a great deal of humility and understanding, and research helps.

That’s what Don Baer said to Institute for Public Relations Trustees when our Board met last week in its first full session of 2010. Don is Chairman of Penn, Schoen Berland (PSB) and Worldwide Vice Chairman of Burson-Marsteller. He engaged Trustees in their opening session. (more…)

Never Waste a Crisis

On the heels of the Tiger Woods scandal last April and only days before the BP rig explosion and oil spill, the Economist ran a story  calling attention to the fact that brand-threatening scandals are becoming a regular feature of the corporate landscape.

This, the Economist said, is because of “a toxic (sic) mixture of globalization, which scatters corporate activities hither and yon, and the internet, which allows bad news to spread like wildfire.” It cited estimates that executives have an 82% chance of facing a corporate disaster within any five-year period, up from 20% two decades ago.

Taking a page from Crisis Management 101, the Economist suggested that the key to a successful brand re-launch lies in making a cool-headed assessment of how much a crisis damages a company. (more…)

Communicating in an Era of Radical Transparency

As a public relations profession, I admire people who sometimes have radical goals but who adopt moderate tactics. It seems to me that the pursuit of peaceful and constructive change, on almost any level, always has to leave open the possibility you might be wrong or that better ideas exist. Going a little bit more slowly than your ardent followers might want is one method for accommodating that possibility.

Meanwhile in the last ten years or so, the internet has provided the ability to link millions of people across the globe in essentially peaceful dialogue. This global conversation has obvious and enormous benefits, but it also presents new challenges, not only for the companies and clients we represent, but also for governments. (more…)

Brand: China

One of the characteristics of the world that motivates me is our “interconnectedness;” or our “interdependence.”  If you accept that people across the world – people like you and me – have many more similarities than differences, then inevitably you will find more opportunities than problems.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in China – driven home for me again in August during another visit to Beijing. The needs and opportunities there are huge – on many levels – and underscored by a new willingness among politicians to admit that the world’s interconnectedness with China is, in fact, a competitive advantage. (more…)

Emotive Branding

Hardly a week goes by without shocking reminders how important it is for companies to align internal and external audiences with brand, values and organizational strategies.

Think Penn State and the NCAA, Bank of America, Herman Cain, your local (you name it).

Internally, studies indicate only one in five employees understands how their work contributes to the overall strategic direction. This lack of clarity is exacerbated by a daily bombardment of information, which interrupts focus and impedes innovation. Companies that neglect to connect with employees, customers, investors and the public stifle growth and risk backlash and irrelevance. (more…)