Clean business is good business: corporate governance in a digital age

Article by Claudia Gioia, ‎President & CEO, Hill+Knowlton Latin America

Over the past decade, corporate governance has been the subject of increasing attention and scrutiny, leading to a growing demand for transparency, social responsibility, and higher ethical governance standards.

Corporate governance, which refers to the policies and practices leaders use to manage themselves and fulfill their responsibilities to investors, employees, and other stakeholders, has widespread impact. It affects and dictates the internal functioning and morale of a company, and it also projects externally to the public.

In today’s business environment, having a social media presence is a must for companies. Without one, a company is competitively limited and seen as both archaic and out of touch. Moreover, it allows companies to communicate not only externally, but also internally with employees. Social media then becomes an extension of communication strategy by allowing enhanced transparency and increased interaction between companies, their stakeholders, employees, and the public.

As such, social media can be a powerful tool to enhance reputation, create opportunities, and promote a business, but it also opens a wide lens into the inner workings of a corporation and its leadership. Traditional media exposure and increasing “citizens’ policing” by those globally connected also give way to a new set of more rigorous ethical and transparency standards, revolutionising principles of corporate governance.

In some regions, such as Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Northern Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, certain tendencies in corporate governance have emerged.

Corporate governance expert Dr. Richard LeBlanc explains there are several major trends that can be applicable across borders.

These trends include:

1. Ensuring social independence between boards of directors and management.

2. Imposing limits on directors’ term lengths, as well as ensuring organizations are diverse.

3. Choosing directors strictly based on capabilities, skills, and expertise.

4. Implementing audit committees at all levels to lower risk of corruption.

5. Increasing and improving cybersecurity, including the internal management of information, preventing hackings, and providing a secure platform for the board of directors.

In addition to the above trends in corporate governance, it is also critical there be regulation of leadership, as certain leadership models are more conducive to corruption. Susan Frank Divers, senior advisor, LRN Corporation, explains that “it is not enough to create documents with behaviour codes or impose trainings on a company, an introspective analysis must be done.

Leadership models and management corporate structures based on control and secrecy eventually lead to bad corporate conduct.” Additionally, it is a very costly mistake for leaders to ignore the concerns and recommendations of their employees. In today’s digital communications age, a company without transparency is destined to fail.

It is important to highlight the role of the media in stalling corruption and continuing to provide a space for transparency and compliance. The media, and especially social media, provides visibility to the inner workings of companies, often exposing irregularities and instances of corruption. In addition to providing a platform for each individual to do their part, the media helps uncover and follow corruption stories. It has also contributed to making institutions adopt more rigorous and ethical transparency and corporate governance standards.

In this new global information environment, companies that turn away from the policies of honesty and transparency lose credibility and competitive advantages. Let us hope that public criticism, social vigilance, and sanctions by governments and private institutions, as well as ethical leadership programs, will continue to push companies to adopt practices with social conscience and integrity.


Deepak Kumar & Prerna Singh International Journal of Research (IJR) Vol-1, Issue-4, May 2014

Issues & Crisis Communications Capacity Building is not on your To-Do List in 2017? Here is why it should be

Article by Samer Costantini*


Very few would argue against the statement that 2016 has been quite an eventful year when it comes to news. Heck, some might even consider “eventful” as a gross understatement. 

Around the first week of January, and in my annual ‘happy new year’ row-call to friends and family, I asked what some of my friends think 2017 is going to be like. Mind you, those “friends” that I approached advise presidents and heads of states for a living; so their words carry some merit.  Every one of them agreed that 2017 would be about one word: Anticipation.

As a communications professional and adviser, anticipation does not fit well in my neighborhood. We, PR practitioners, prefer facts; and we like them hard and rock-solid. It is either a YES or a NO. Anticipation, on the other hands, is like squeezing a ‘maybe’ in between. In the PR world, there are many examples to why answering with a maybe is not one should be provided to media or stakeholders. Maybe means I am not sure. ‘Maybe’ means I do not have the facts. And not having all the facts automatically puts any communications professionals who is worth his money, in auto-crisis mode.

So, why is 2017 all about anticipating answers?

First, global geopolitics. The 2016 US elections is a no-brainer (no pun intended). One of the most colorful elections that affected individuals, communities, business and even countries around the world. The current US president, unlike his predecessors, does not shy away from naming individuals and/or organizations on his twitter. His tweets against a few named carmakers, for example, got stock prices plummeting and CEOs rethinking their go-to-market plans. In 2017, and along with his Twitter account, the world will be in anticipation for the new US president’s 100 day plan.

In 2016, the world also witnessed the first European country voting for a breakup from the EU. Not just any European country, but a nation that is one of the big five, a member of the G 20 and occupies one of the five permanent seats in Security Council.

The immediate effects of Brexit were felt across London, the UK and the the world’s financial markets. Many businesses that operate in London still have to deal with the ripples and the aftershocks to playout 2017 on the GBP and the future plans of London-based multinationals.

Brexit clearly shows that wherever politics goes, economy usually follows. And in the Middle East, our never-ending geopolitically troubled region, economic challenges are amplified even further. For example, one may argue that the region has seen the worst of oil prices shock in 2015. Many advisors believe that 2017 will be the year a number of companies will take solid steps to offset the changes in government spending, consumer spending and new policies set in place in 2016. Already a number of companies came public with restructuring, mergers and acquisition plans.

To answer all the questions of who, where, what and why, communication practitioners need not only have the facts, but the story behind them. This takes us to the third reason why 2017 is about anticipating answers.

Today’s information consumers do not want to read press statements with charts and tables. They want to see people giving them the answers. Whether on their mobile phones or tablets via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, today’s information and news seekers have changed the way the game is played. They want the information, the full and complete picture, they want it in a way they can share with their networks of friends and family to understand, and they want it now.

A few years ago, being ready to receive any question, from anyone, at any point of time, and with the expectation that you will provide an answer that holds facts that is easy to understand, narrate and aggregate – that is what fundamentally is being in crisis communication mode.

So, to all communication practitioners out there, gear up and brush up on your right-off-the-bat messages. Understanding the dynamics of issues and crisis communication is not a once-a-year drill or a two-day training workshop. In today’s ever-changing geopolitical and economic climate, in today’s evolving information consumption habits, in today’s rapidly technology disrupting innovations; PR and communications practitioners must embrace crisis communication skills as a daily way of life and must be prepared to roll up their sleeves and wear the crisis communications hat at any hour on any day.


*Samer Costantini is a moderator in the “Let’s Talk” Crisis Communications Forum taking place in Dubai this March. He is communication adviser with two decades of experience in corporate communications and public affairs. He served various governmental, international and multinational organizations on global assignments. He can be reached on Twitter at @scdxb  

The death of the big idea

Article by Nick Bishop, Head of Corporate, Golin 

President Trump and Nigel Farage do not seem like the type of politicians to love an algorithm. Both are instinctive campaigners seemingly more attuned to Big Emotion than Big Data. Yet the role of data in helping secure victory for the Leave campaign in the EU Referendum and making Donald Trump the most powerful man on the planet has come into question.

And a mythology has emerged in which a little known firm, Cambridge Analytica, has become a key player in these surprise election outcomes. Cambridge Analytica’s methods rely on a combination of psychometric data – acquired from millions of personality tests – and data collated through voluntary surveys and social media. The company’s chief executive, Alexander Nix, is unashamed about the quantity of data it holds; in the US, close to 5000 data points on every individual.

In the case of the US Presidential election, this data was used to target advertising on social channels, strengthening the conviction of Trump voters in the election run-up, while also persuading Clinton supporters to stay at home.

The effectiveness of the campaigns supporting Trump and the Leave campaign have been scrutinised and rubbished by many. Among the many arguments made against Cambridge Analytica is that before they worked for Trump they worked for Ted Cruz, and that Trump annihilated Cruz at the polls.

Irrespective of Cambridge Analytica’s impact, what no one disputes is the importance of data science in changing behaviour and the sheer sophistication of micro-targeting in election campaigns. If we learn nothing else it is that simple demographic segmentation is outdated. The sheer notion that all Millennials, for example, can be grouped and marketed to as a single homogenous group is ridiculous.

In order to be more relevant, we need to think about segmenting audiences by interest or psychological traits, much as Cambridge Analytica have done. Why then is it still the case – eight years after Obama swept to victory with the support of Blue State Digital – that brand communication programmes are often built on nothing more than perceived wisdom?

The reality is that much of this perceived wisdom is wrong. Audiences probably don’t behave in the way we think they do (or they say they do). Their behaviours and the media mix are more complex than ever before and are changing more frequently.

This ability to segment audiences, test messages and predict behaviour heralds the possibility of an end to mass communications. At the least, it increasingly looks like a blunt and imprecise approach. In the consumer products sector, terabytes of consumer data are being used to sharpen production forecasting, identify the most and least profitable products and determine the most efficient routes for distribution operations. They are also being used for micro persuasion – the targeting of disparate groups, based on their beliefs. Business, like politics, is leading the way.

The communications industry often puts the Big Idea ahead of Big Data. The latter likely holds the seeds for a great many big ideas however – and tells you where to plant them.

Successful pitching – “juniors and giraffes”

Blog post by Adrian Wheeler, FPRCA – accredited PRCA trainer.

Get 20% off all webinars and qualifications throughout January 2017. Click here for more details. 


In a pitch, clients look for evidence that they will get on with us. It’s all-important. No-one ever buys anything from someone they don’t like. In professional business services like PR, chemistry is very often the only reliable indicator.

Most clients, like the rest of us, try to rationalise this factor. ‘They speak our language’. ‘They are on the same page’. ‘They’re on our wavelength’. It means they feel happy to see us every other day for the coming year. Making the wrong choice is embarrassing and possibly career-threatening.

We have to come across as real, three-dimensional people in the brief time we are given for our pitch. If we’re charismatic geniuses, no problem. But what if we’re normal?

I suggest that a pitch should be planned and rehearsed like a play. Each ‘actor’ needs a part which they can perform to perfection. This might happen without planning and rehearsal, but it probably won’t: why take the chance? Don’t forget that smart clients ignore the brilliance of our senior people; they concentrate on the ‘juniors’, who they know will be doing the work.


The other kind of chemistry is what’s going on between members of our pitch team. Clients look for some kind of fizz or buzz. They don’t often see it but, when they do, they want it.

Maybe your pitch team displays sparkling interaction anyway. But why leave it to chance? One agency goes as far as scripting the jokes, interventions and teasing which will show their clients they are a creative hothouse. They win a lot of pitches.

An easier method is the ‘giraffe game’. On the way to the pitch, each team-member is given a word to use in their presentation. It has to be a word that would never normally appear in a new business pitch (like giraffe). The challenge is to use the word without the clients interrupting or laughing.

This game produces a kind of suppressed excitement which selection panels find intriguing. What’s going on? There’s obviously pretty good chemistry between these people…

The best-ever example was the word Jan gave to Sue on the way to pitch for IBM. It cannot be mentioned in a family newspaper, but if we meet at a PRCA event I’ll tell you how Sue managed it. She didn’t have to buy a single drink that evening.

A land of magical realism

Article by Gustavo Averbuj, Partner, Regional Director, Latin America & CEO, Ketchum, Argentina for the World PR Report 2016


A decade of populist governments in the region (Hugo Chavez & Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, plus the Kirchners in Argentina) created years of strong growth in public affairs – as organisations sought to connect with politicians, governments and other decision-makers. Now the political pendulum has swung back to right-to-centre, pro-market governments, demand for PR in Latin America is shape shifting again.  Today digital work, influencer relations, creative campaigning and new media is centre stage. Crisis management skills are also in demand, particularly in markets with significant political unrest like Venezuela.

The big hit that the Brazilian economy has taken recently has obviously impacted in the rest of Latin America.  Most of our economies now expect only moderate GDP growth in the short term.

Each market in the region is at a different stage of development and evolution. Some are close to what you might see in any global PR marketplace, whilst others lag behind – lacking the agencies that insist on global standards. However most global PR networks have some presence in the region.

Whilst Latin America represents between 8 and 15 % of income for most global Fortune companies, PR budgets are usually less generous than they might be elsewhere. The effect is that, unable to replicate bigger more comprehensive Western campaigns, agencies here have had to find new routes to success via creativity.  This approach has brought dividends at global award shows like the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.

Several areas are at different development stages in the region : digital and mobile capacity, our approach to talent acquisition and training (where just a few of us offer global standard capabilities). Our collective investment in sustainability and CSR is high in a region where the majority of kids are poor and the majority of poor are kids.

Another reason for our creative success is that South America is a cradle of magical realism in literature. We are great storytellers. The lust for life here, and our sense of collective ambition means we naturally collaborate and imbue our work with an uncommon emotional intelligence.  We also bring plenty of passion to our profession and our businesses. It’s fun to work here.

There are global agencies , medium sized boutiques and lots of small specialist shops. With advertising experiencing an identity crisis, PR firms are getting a reputation for conjuring up campaign leading ideas that work across all channels.  Indeed we are also seeing some PR firms leading entire campaign execution across paid, earned, shared and owned media.

In Latam, creativity and imagination reign supreme no matter where ideas originate from.


Download a free online version of the ICCO/PRWeek World PR Report 2016 here.

Spotlighting ICCO’s new African region president, Bridget von Holdt

ICCO is pleased to announce that five Regional Presidents have been appointed, who will represent the recently formed Regional Boards covering Europe, Americas, Middle East, Africa and Asia. Bridget von Holdt, Executive Director, Glasshouse Communication Management and nominated candidate of the Public Relations Institute of South Africa (PRISA) board, was recently elected as African region president of ICCO.

Darren Gilbert, media update interviews Bridget von Holdt about her plans in the role, the state of PR in Africa, and the challenges the industry faces.

Congrats on your recent appointment. What does this mean to you, both on a personal and professional level?

Personally, I am passionate about the PR profession and it is rewarding to see how our environment is growing in stature, importance and relevance. I have seen PR grow from a simple press release to a strategic need within management and business leadership. PR has finally come of age and the corporates are realising that stakeholder engagement and reputation management is more than just an event or a media engagement.

Professionally, Glasshouse is positioned as a key role player within the PR environment. This position is an honour and we are happy to be part of the growing global environment.

What will be your main focus as African region president of the ICCO? What needs to be done in the African region?

Africa tends to be the forgotten continent, yet is identified as a focal growth point for so many international companies. We need to increase our voice and collaborate to increase our business footprint.

Use the ICCO platform to position Africa and the agencies represented on the continent as strategic partners, as innovative and, of course, as the experts within the region.

In May 2017, ICCO will host their Board meeting in South Africa – an opportunity for the practitioners to get closer to the international team, to forge relationships and interrogate trends.

As the PR / Communication profession continues to grow, so the value of ICCO needs to grow in evidence. As a region, we need to encourage more of our colleagues to join ICCO take advantage of the benefits.

We also need to take advantage of technology and communicate, share and collaborate more.

What is your take on the state of public relations in Africa?

Africa has grown in leaps and bounds. The world is a global village and with access to information, conferences, collaboration and networking, public relations in Africa is at the same standard as the rest of the world.

The success factor is to deal with a company (a consultant) that has a reputation and that works according to international ethics and standards, and has such as ICCO members.

In your opinion, what is the PR industry getting right? What impresses you most about the industry in Africa?

The need for professionalising the profession worldwide. Benchmarking of campaigns and global insights

Measurement of campaigns based on an international system – Gone are the AVEs and this pleases me no end. Public Relations campaigns cannot be measured on AVEs as this belittles our skills, our expertise and our knowledge.

Conversely, what is the biggest challenge that the PR industry faces in Africa?

We need to stand out [from] the clutter.

Then there is the dominance of global players buying out the independent agencies – I am a great believer in independent agencies who specialise.

More and more consultancies need to make the leap to joining a professional body or organisation to ensure standards and adhere to ethics – this gives clients reassurance that they have selected a reputable company in whose hands they have placed the reputation of their brand.

We need to be pushing international standards – mediocre is not good enough. And ensuring that we then all measure our outputs and expectations in the same way. Benchmarking has become increasing important as we see more of the multinationals operating around the globe.

Finally, we need to move away from the perception that public relations in Africa is about being part of the third world – it is not.

How will you judge your own success as African region president at ICCO? Have you set yourself any non-negotiable goals?

We need to get the conversation going. An increase [is needed] in those participating in the conversation. It’s all about that word: engagement.

We have the ICCO board meeting taking placing in South Africa for the first time in May 2017, which will be linked to the PRISA Conference and PRISM Awards. This already is an achievement. And more so, a great opportunity to meet with mentors and PR practitioners from around the world.

There also need to be a closer relationship with our own PRISA and ICCO, as well as a greater awareness of measurement, of standards, and of ethics.

Asia Pacific – World PR Report 2016

Article by Lynne Anne Davis, President, Asia Pacific, FleishmanHillard


We live in an era of epic global disruption.  In a region as fast-evolving as Asia Pacific, constant change is not a new norm.  Sharp or steady, market flux persists with 80% of global GDP expected to come from emerging markets – led by key Asia economies – in the next two decades.  As experts in helping clients seize these growth opportunities, APAC’s PR industry itself sustains a high-growth mode.  Unfortunately, the realities of scaling to the greatest possible heights are more difficult than they seem.

Ask anyone running a business in Asia what keeps them awake at night. Most will say it’s about finding, keeping and growing great people.  The single biggest threat to maximizing growth potential to the fullest is quality and engagement of talent.

Behind the results of this year’s Talent & Challenges survey are clear opportunities to take advantage of the current climate.

While most global respondents (82%) cannibalize rival agencies for recruitment, the number-one hiring source cited by APAC respondents (ex AUS/NZ) is in-house communication departments, followed by journalism and graduate programs.  The industry needs to look further afield and get more creative with how it attacks persisting talent limitations.

Growing from the Outside

A key survey theme in Asia Pacific is the problem of attracting talent from outside the PR field, attributed primarily to salary expectations, skills transfer and training.  Additionally, retention was cited as the number-one inhibitor of talent strategies.

Talent in Asia is a moving target, which can actually be good news.  In the Hudson Report on 2016 talent trends in Asia Pacific, this year is “shaping up to be one of the most mobile and fluid in recent times” with unprecedented numbers prepared to move jobs, move sectors and even move countries.   Specifically, one third of Mainland Chinese professionals plan to make a move within a year, with a higher proportion in Singapore (44%) and even more in Hong Kong and Singapore (50%).

These intentions bode well for cross-over recruitment, which is mission critical to the future.

PR’s massive transformation as an integrated, socially-centric industry was enabled by the introduction of non-traditional roles and expertise from other industries.  That must never stop in order to continuously innovate, expand influence and supply the rising demand for PR services – especially in Asia where local companies are aggressively disrupting categories, exporting brands abroad and creating new spaces.  Communications is their most effective strategy to break out as true game changers and market makers.

Likewise, demand for crisis management and public affairs work is rising rapidly in a region as issues rich as Asia.

Capturing Game Changers

Agencies with the consulting skills to advise on high-stakes, complex business challenges on many different levels are best equipped to cater to the burgeoning generation of global leaders from Asia.  Experience in legal, digital, government, NGO, management and HR consulting, for example, all apply.

For agencies operating on the high-value, high-margin reputation management end of the advisory spectrum, return on these investment hires is worthwhile indeed.  To draw talent, these organizations fish where the fishes swim by raising visibility in target sectors, employ mentoring programs for on-the-job coaching, make headlines with thought leadership, and prioritize training on an ongoing basis. For example, at FleishmanHillard, an intensive training program is required for certification of its crisis management counselors.

Winning Through Creativity

‘Social media community management, insight and planning, marketing and business development’ are quoted as the most relevant skills for PR executives in Asia for the next decade.  The drivers of change in this region support, indeed demand, the continuous development of such capabilities. Interestingly, creativity ranked third globally as an important future skill yet did not feature in the top three cited in Asia Pacific.  This is worrying.  Along with talent, creativity is without a doubt the most valued competitive edge an agency can have.

The dynamism, diversity and professional enrichment of agency life are alluring in an industry blessed with an abundance of growth.  Every player in it should be actively promoting the attributes of PR as a smart career choice as broadly as possible.  The future belongs to agencies that grow a talent trove from the inside and out.


Download a free online version of the ICCO/PRWeek World PR Report 2016 here.


Future of Public Affairs post Brexit vote & Trump

Blog post by Russell Goldsmith, Founder, Audere Communications


Show 32 of the csuitepodcast was the final show that I recorded at the Global ICCO PR Summitand discussed the future of Public Affairs post the Brexit vote and US Election

I was joined by Fredrik Lofthagen, Chief Executive Officer of Interel; Caroline Wunnerlich, Managing Director for the Brussels office of FleishmanHillard and Tangui van der Elst, Director of European Government Affairs at WestRock.

show32guests[L-R: Russell, Caroline, Tangui and Fredrik]

We covered a number of topic areas including, but not limited to:

  • Public Affairs Spend
  • Trump
  • Brexit
  • Future Engagement platforms

Public Affairs Spend

We began the conversation looking at the results of some research that Interel had carried with CEOs of independent public affairs consultancies in 60 markets.  Fredrik explained that one of the key findings was that despite CEOs concerns about political risk, spending on Public Affairs is still only a fraction of what businesses spend on marketing – around 0.003% of the total revenue of the Fortune 500.

Fredrik felt this was a mismatch that needs to be rectified but he said that very few companies are actually able to determine or quantify the impact of over regulation or geopolitical risk to their business, which in turn makes their spending decisions and resource allocations more difficult to do, which may have hampered the development of the Public Affairs profession.

Caroline added that many companies still have fragmented functions in that Public Affairs and Government Relations is still quite separate from their Communications.  There are therefore often only responding to crises after they have happened or are having problems getting budgets opened. However, she believes there are shifts occurring and that some companies are realising that their consumers/customers are of course people who have views, who vote and have opinions on public issues and so those companies that are realising this are beginning to understand that you can do well by doing good.  She quoted Unilever as an example of such a company – not the first time Unilever has been praised as such on this podcast series, so they are clearly doing something right – see Shows 31, 22 and 8.


Caroline talked about how FleishmanHillard has developed Shared Value Labs that are being run out of Washington DC, to look at how companies can get involved with Governments to create unusual alliances to tackle societal and environmental problems.  Interestingly, given we recorded this before the US Election result, she said that if Donald Trump won, there would be a bit of a retreat from Government from a lot of the activities and multilateral institutions such as the UN, leaving a requirement for corporations to fill quite a vacuum.  Let’s see if Caroline was right!

How Trump’s victory affects the UK relationship will also be interesting as Caroline explained that the transatlantic relationship is already very strained from a business perspective due to issues such as [Volkswagen] ‘dieselgate’, which started in the US, European banks being fined, data protection issues, and corporate taxation tussles with a lot of US companies, all of which causes an underlying tension.  These issues, together with the failure to progress any meaningful trade talks under the TTIP initiative, means that the whole relationship between the UK and US will need some recalibration.

However, overall the elections have, in Caroline’s opinion, thrown up some big questions about how to advise clients and engage in political discourse where people who can lie and be abusive can still get elected, referring to an Economist article on the ‘Art of a the lie, post-truth politics’ in the age of social media.


In terms of what impact the Brexit vote might have to the future of Public Affairs, Tangui said he has struggled to find any reasons to be optimistic. He uses the fact that he is based in Switzerland to share some insight in that two years ago, the country had its own referendum on controlling migration, which received the majority.  However, the decision faced strong opposition within the EU that said that if Switzerland was to implement the referendum, then all the existing bilateral agreements between the EU and Switzerland would be void due to free-movement being so essential to the EU’s very existence.  Tangui explained that the Swiss thought they could find some form of compromise, trying for two years to achieve one, but finally realised that the EU would not move from their stance.  He said that Switzerland has therefore quietly shifted the referendum so that they can maintain their bilateral agreements as access to the EU was considered too critical to the Swiss economy.

Tangui feels that in the UK, there is too much emotional equity in the referendum result for it to go back, which is why he feels that we will all be losers, both in the UK and Europe.

Whilst Fredrik shares those concerns of Tangui, which Caroline also had, he said that the EU has an extraordinary ability to muddle through from one crisis to the next and that there is usually some form of outcome that most stakeholders would agree with.

With respect to business though, Fredrik’s advice is not to wait for the outcome and not to try and spend too much time scenario planning around it because it’s just speculation at this current time.  However, in his opinion, what is important is that through the Brexit vote, the UK is already losing its voice in Brussels today due to senior commission officials retiring and MEPs losing chairmanship opportunities or being the rapporteur on a particular dossier in the European Parliament.  His concern is therefore about who will replace the UK and the voice of the UK, in particular in the Council of Ministers at working group level, specifically in respect of corporate issues.  Therefore, Fredrik does recommend companies thinking about what their engagement strategy will be moving forward as every company will have their own portfolio of issues and dependencies and if they are dependent on the UK to defend them in the context of EU legislation or regulation, then they need to think about who their new friends are going to be and start making those approaches.

Tangui added that from what he can see working for a major US multinational, investment strategies are already affected as, in his view, no company would consider investing in the UK unless, and he used Nissan as an example, they can get strict guarantees.

Future Engagement platforms

Naturally there’s been a huge shift to engaging online and particularly through social media, but one of the big developments that Caroline shared was how Youtubers Laetitia, Jonas and Lukasz were asked to interview President Juncker of the European Commission after his state of the European Union speech

Caroline added that social media brings with it its own challenges, particularly in how messages go across borders, although she said that can be used to an advantage such as in some very effective NGO campaigns, but regulations are still developed nationally at a much slower pace.  Her company has been working around the issue of Glyphosate, a product used in the crop science industry, which, as far as regulators are concerned, is not unsafe.  However, the campaign and debate on social media has been so heated and active that the regulators have postponed decisions and instead of a license to operate for the next 15 years, the company has been given 18 months whilst further research is done.

#ad – Many thanks to global media intelligence provider CARMA for supporting the series of shows I produced from ICCO.  Please do visit their website to find out more about how they can help you deliver actionable insights through media monitoring and PR measurement.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on Soundcloud, itunes and now TuneIn too.  If you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

My chat with Lord Chadlington

Blog post by Russell Goldsmith, Founder, Audere Communications


Show 31 of the csuitepodcast, the second of three shows recorded at the Global ICCO PR Summit, saw me speak to my 100th guest on the series and so it was perfect that such a milestone was shared with former CEO of Huntsworth plc, Lord Chadlington, who had just delivered the opening keynote for the second day of the conference on the topic of creating the consultancy of the future.

Naturally, I didn’t have too much time with Lord Chadlington, but we still managed to get through a lot of topics in our chat, not all covered in this post, so you’ll just have to listen to the interview to hear them all!  But what was evident in listening to his keynote, and spending 20mins chatting to him is that one simply can’t help but be inspired by a man who, at 74 years old, as Graham Goodkind, Chairman of Frank PR described when I was sat next to him listening to the keynote address, still has an infectious enthusiasm and passion for his industry.

With regards to his keynote, Lord Chadlington’s main message was that the PR industry is in a very difficult place because, increasingly, the traditional work is being taken over by software and so agencies have to decide what kind of business they are going to have as someone else is ‘eating their breakfast’!

We talked in particular about media influence and the impact social media is having, not just on business but on politics too and particularly on how politicians will need to communicate over the issue of Brexit.  This gave me the perfect opportunity to get Lord Chadlington’s views on the events of the last six months, which he summed up by saying that if had been a story line in a Jeffrey Archer or Michael Dobbs book, everyone would have said it would have been impossible.

On David Cameron, Chadlington believe’s he has behaved with great dignity and that he has accepted that the country didn’t want to do what he wanted to do, but that giving them the choice was the key thing.

As for Brexit, Lord Chadlington said he was a ‘remainer’ but now he is 9 million percent for Brexit and we all must be 9 million percent for Brexit as that is what’s going to happen! He said we therefore need to fight hard and make sure Brexit is an enormous success.

#ad – Many thanks to global media intelligence provider CARMA for supporting the series of shows I produced from ICCO.  Please do visit their website to find out more about how they can help you deliver actionable insights through media monitoring and PR measurement.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on Soundcloud or itunes and please, if you subscribe, can you give the show a positive rating and review on itunes in particular.

Brand Culture in The Conversation Age: Relating Something is foremost Relating to Someone

Article by Pascal Beucler, SVP & Chief Strategy Officer, Global, MSLGROUP


At the ICCO Global Summit which took place in Oxford, UK, earlier this fall, I was invited to discuss why Branded Content and Entertainment are a new boundary, and a sweet spot to hit, for PR (People Relations) professionals. This talk was based on my experience last June, at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, as a juror (and the only PR person!) in the newly created Entertainment Jury.

The basic point is: if it is true that ample narrative formats elevate brand content into the cultural mainstream, therefore becoming the next boundary for storytellers, can PR take advantage of it?

Cutting through and turning consumers into fans.

Entertainment is where branded content, storytelling and events/experiential converge, helping brands to creatively engage with people and communities, cut through and turn consumers into fans.

There’s a clear disenchantment with intrusive advertising formats, particularly among the most influential and sought-after demographic: Millennials.

Engaging content is what’s engaging Millennials: whether a viral video, a television series, or a top experiential event, this is what’s capturing their attention and interest.

The age of convergence is now.

I’d recommend to focus on four dimensions, illustrated – IMHO – by some of the most remarkable projects we’ve reviewed during the Festival.

  • Technological Convergence: big data, mobile apps, voice recognition, VR, AR are everywhere, and it changes everything, for it unleashes the power of emotional connections, creating meaningful relationships.
  • Mobile Convergence: what was prophesied long ago is a loud reality today, as our ubiquitous and versatile smartphone is our most vital link to our world, and to the world around us.
  • Societal Convergence: whether on gender equity, education, family crisis, coming out, racism, poverty, brands do not hesitate to be part of the global conversation, getting rid of taboos. Good content is better content to share, for purpose-driven organizations looking for social impact.
  • Collaborative Convergence: empowering people (consumers, but also employees) is what helps generate innovation, through co-creation, crowdsourcing, collaboration. Far more than just a trendy wave, it’s a massive tsunami.

Great content is the currency for Engagement.

Relevance, virality, social amplification, emotional connections and, at the end of the day, sales stimulation come with content, whether branded, native or experiential: this is our priority playfield, as PR professionals.

A content that should never be intrusive, but always be suggestive, contextual and fully relevant to the brand. And thus effective: from Conversation to Reputation and Commerce, results must be visible, tangible, measurable.

Only a good story will create a great relationship.

So what is such a story? In my view, it’s a story which needs to be human but exceptional, fact-based but emotional, unique but universal. Only such a story will have the power to create great relationships between corporations, brands and people.

Let’s keep in mind here what etymology teaches us. “Relatio” in Latin gives two meanings:

  • one around narrativity: telling a story, that’s relating something, narrating, giving an account of something – and at the heart of it is the art & science of relating.
  • one around relationship: relate to, that’s feeling in sympathy with, identify with, be connected to someone about something.

Only a good story has the power to bring people together – whether physically or virtually – and to create the kind of emotional context and connections which will help creatively engage the audience in a great conversation.

I believe that only the narrative way, through a well-told story, can create fruitful relationships with people and communities, by opposition to the classical, discursive, top down, “vertical” advertising way.

In other words, relating something is foremost relating to someone, and the relationship is what makes the attempt a success, or a failure.

We do live in a People Relations (PR) world… where the story matters, and needs to move people, deeply. The Art & Science of Storyteling is definitely in our DNA, and our core chanllenge in this new age of ample formats.

Being relatable, human, approachable, bold, “real”, giving people a voice: this could very much be where the future of great brands lies.

We – PR people – are here to help them lead the change!