A (n Aspirant) Writer’s Journey

I recently took the decision on reaching sixty that I would give up a highly successful and lucrative senior role with the world’s second largest and most creatively awarded PR agency to pursue my dream of being a writer. Mad, some people have told me. To inject some discipline and learning into my random and chaotic attempts at having a writer’s life I enrolled on a part-time MA in Creative Writing at the University of Winchester, and am enjoying every minute. This week we had a real treat, when an alumni of the course, now with two successful, critically acclaimed and internationally published literary novels under her belt and a third in the wings: Claire Fuller (Swimming Lessons, Our Endless Numbered Days). Claire Fuller   Swimming Lessons, her latest book, is an intricately and beautifully structured reflection on family love and loss. I asked her if she knew her ending from the start.
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CEO Activism: What We Have Learned So Far in 2017

I wanted to share this piece I wrote for Harvard Business Review on what we have learned about CEO and corporate activism so far. We’ve been consistently monitoring the dynamic of CEOs speaking out on some of the hot button issues of the day. In addition to the market research we have done, we analyzed corporate and CEO responses to each of the contentious issues in 2017, whether it was the travel ban, climate change withdrawal, Charlottesville, etc. It is important for companies to understand the patterns in how companies are responding in order to determine if they want to walk that tightrope or not. Here it is. Enjoy. The post CEO Activism: What We Have Learned So Far in 2017 appeared first on ReputationXchange.

The Power of Vulnerability

It’s always been my opinion the strongest leaders are the ones who aren’t afraid to display their emotions, vulnerability and humanity in times of stress. Vulnerability is, in fact, one of the key lessons we instill in our troops as they undergo stand-up comedy training (a de facto part of our management development for the past decade). There are a few terrific examples of CEOs who “get it”, but I’ve rarely seen a late night talk show host display his emotions and vulnerability to the degree Jimmy Kimmel did in the aftermath of the Las Vegas tragedy.  Regardless of your political views, watch the entire segment. The single best advice I could provide any CEO addressing stakeholders in a time of crisis is to emulate Kimmel’s authenticity. It’s riveting (and incredibly effective).

A company without a purpose

Lost amidst the usual hysteria surrounding Donald Trump’s Tweets, tirades and threats this past weekend was the woeful performance of Under Armour. In a flip-flopping move reminiscent of 2004 Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry, Under Armour took two diametrically opposed POVs in the space of an hour. The drama unfolded after the sports apparel brand decided to publicly support the NFL and NBA players who suddenly, and unexpectedly, were attacked by President Trump at the appropriately named Von Braun Center at the University of Alabama. Under Armour stepped up and immediately expressed its commitment to diversity, inclusiveness and the right of all America citizens to exercise their First Amendment rights. Then, when conservative followers began savaging the statement on social channels everywhere, Under Armour stepped back. Holy two-step, Batman! The brand wizards took down the original Tweet and subsequently added a line about respecting our flag in a new one.
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Why you should seriously consider leaving your PR agency

When I first moved into PR consultancy 22 years ago, having previously worked in political communications, I was shocked to discover the lack of interest in insights, data and research within PR firms beyond the most rudimentary dip stick research designed to push whatever we were pitching. In politics we had every sound bite and slogan tested and focus grouped to within an inch of its life. Over the past decade, with the rise of digital communications and social media, and the new horizons that has brought to our industry, this has started to change. Many agencies have established planning and insights teams, bringing more diverse and science-based skills into our industry. (At Weber Shandwick we hired our first strategic planners well over a decade ago and have had our own research arm KRC for over three decades thanks to the political campaign heritage of the firm.) But many
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Humor flexes its muscles

I’ve just returned from The Arthur W. Page Society‘s superb annual conference in San Diego. And, while the conference theme was, “Search for community in a (dis) connected world,” there were a surprising number of speakers who addressed the power of humor in business. Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines, said his use of humor, authenticity and doubling down on the airline’s “purpose” were key to his ability to weather the widespread outrage after the “incident” on flight 3411. Rich Jernstedt, former CEO of GolinHarris (now Golin), erstwhile chair of the Council of PR Firms and current head of his own consulting firm, shared a priceless “Page Moment” that occurred long ago and far away, AND demonstrated the legendary Al Golin’s use of humor in an intense situation. The Golin team had just entered the massive boardroom of a large prospect they were pitching. As everyone pulled
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The Babe Ruth of the Back Office

Some things bear repeating. This blog ran one year ago and is more appropriate than ever…

The Babe Ruth of the Back Office

leeWhat do Weber-Shandwick, F-H, Makovsky, M. Booth and, yes, Peppercomm, have in common? They’re hugely successful strategic communications firms whose prowess is directly connected to the strength and performance of their back office functions. Show me a PR firm with a weak CFO, office manager or personnel director, and I’ll show you an agency that isn’t winning new clients, growing profits or attracting and retaining great people.   Caste System Alas, back office workers are often treated in much the same way as the Untouchables in India’s Caste System. They’re literally invisible, are rarely mentioned in internal memos and NEVER included in those already suspect best workplace tales that PR Week likes to spin. But, that’s not the
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