Searching PR and Communications blogs

Helpful utility provided by Constantin Basturea to search a wide list of over 500 PR and communications blogs and wikis. It’s at http://301url.com/prblogsearch, and uses a Google co-op facility.

(Posted by Ray Jordan)

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The Role of “Loyal Opposition” – Both Risky and Rewarding

Like Bill Nielsen and Ray Jordan, I would feel better about this if I knew someone out there was listening and benefiting from this monologue, which I would prefer to be a dialogue. 

      My thoughts today deal with playing the role of “Loyal Opposition” when participating in discussions leading to important decisions.  It can be both risky and rewarding, but in my view it is one of the key contributions an experienced public relations professional can make to the decision-making process.  Even more important if it is a viewpoint that represents “the public interest.” 

      I have always felt that the public relations professional should be more attuned to “the public interest” than anyone else on the senior staff.  It is an important part of our area of responsibility. 

      When I went to Johnson & Johnson to help form its first public relations department I had come from the city room of a large newspaper – where opinions and beliefs are constantly challenged.  I naively thought it was the same in corporations. 

      The then chairman and CEO decided that the new PR department would report to him (and that’s the way it has wisely remained at J&J).  At an early discussion on an important decision I had the temerity to disagree with a decision that was evolving.  The subject had to do with the way an important announcement would be interpreted by the public.  Fortunately, my position proved to be right and I persuaded the others to see it my way.  That was my entry into the minefield of “Loyal Opposition.”  

      The importance of playing this role comes as no revelation to many of you who do it well.  For those who are wary, I offer encouragement. 

      When you are reasonably confident that your good judgment and knowledge of the subject strengthens your opposing view, become the “loyal opposition” even if most or all others are against you, including the CEO. 

      If you are right more often than you are wrong your views will be sought repeatedly.  Your value will be enhanced and your counseling will attain new levels of importance, especially to the CEO.  There will always be others in the room fearful about taking an opposing position.  You should not be. 

      I recommend being thoughtful about your decision, not disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing.  That gets you nowhere.  But often you will find that an opposing view stimulates more discussion, and even if your point is not adopted there is added value in stirring discussion.  Sometimes a compromise decision emerges. 

      It doesn’t have to be the CEO who is running the meetings.  It can be anyone in charge.  By raising concerns about a questionable decision you see emerging, and doing it in a diplomatic way, you will be serving your company and enhancing your own reputation as someone who is a vital part of important discussion leading to important decisions. 

      Your response to this bit of advice may be “Well, doesn’t everyone do this?”  The answer is an emphatic “No.”  How many times have you left a meeting and someone (maybe you) said:  “I wanted to tell them I thought they were wrong.”

 

(Posted by Larry Foster)

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Greetings from an intrepid, yet somehow cautious, traveler…

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 With apologies to my colleagues, Ray and Larry, for taking so long to enter this space, here is my first entry for Calm Patient and Good-Humored.

Frankly, I find this new form of communication to be very intimidating. I’m sure that’s why it has taken me so long to do this. Larry and I exchanged e-mails early on about Ray’s suggestion that the three of us collaborate on a blog. It seemed like a good idea …at first. Then came the reality of posting for … who knows? … to read.

I guess this made me realize that down deep, I have always wanted to be in control of my messages and thoughts until I was certain I was right and could prevail on a point of view. So in this give and take environment, it has taken me awhile to work up the courage to put my thoughts out there. We’ll see how it goes.

I’m sharing this little confession at the outset because I believe many others feel as I do. If so, I’d love to hear how you’re dealing with it and whether you’ve gotten over it.

Enough of that!

Of all the Principles of practice attributed to Arthur W. Page, I have always found “Remain calm patient and good-humored” to be my favorite. I think that’s because it suits my personal style.

In the many crisis situations I’ve dealt with over the years, it was always easier to see your way forward if you could get people involved and concerned to just calm down so you could talk through the situation.

Ralph Larsen, Johnson & Johnson’s ceo during the 1990s was a master at creating a calm and steady environment for discussion. Even during the worst moments, he would say, “this, too, shall pass.” It was such a liberating comment. Of course it was easy for him to say that; he was the ceo. But in setting that tone, he took the pressure off and assured that cool heads would prevail. And, I think we reached better decisions as a result. I know we did!

“Remain calm, patient and good-humored” is a mantra that we could use more widely in society. The lack of civility in public discourse, especially in political rhetoric that is inflamed in the media, makes it nearly impossible to reach a consensus on anything. We need more leaders who exhibit a tone of reason, who care enough about establishing a common ground for the public good to want to embrace opposing views with calming speech, patience and good humor.

More on this in a future post.

So, thanks, Ray, for picking a great thematic for this discussion place.

(Posted by Bill Nielsen)

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The What… and The How

A quick three question quiz:

1) Who was the HP Chairman who resigned her position over the recent HP Board leak investigation scandal?

Right, Patricia Dunn. You probably knew that.

2) Who was the HP Board member who was widely reported to have done the leaking that precipitated the investigation?

Can’t remember? It was George Keyworth.

3) For extra credit, what did he leak?

I’ll bet you’re having a harder time with this one… it’s reported almost nowhere, except that we all know the Board was “pooped” after it concluded discussions about it.

This brief morality tale is provided to illustrate one simple point: from a media and public perspective, the “how” of your actions in any response are likely to be as, if not more, significant than the “what” to which you are feeling compelled to respond.

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In another note, rumor has it that Bill is stirring from his slumber and may have his first post for us any day now. He gave an exhilarating address at Notre Dame recently and we’re waiting to hear about it. Keep your RSS readers peeled.

(posted by Ray Jordan)

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“…so this is a tragedy for us.”

Following so closely on the heels of a couple of postings about declines in company reputations, I must put forth a plea to my colleagues: let us please be careful in our language.

Over last couple of days: 94 confirmed cases of e coli in the United states due to contaminated packaged spinach; 14 gravely ill patients; one confirmed death of a 77 year old woman in Wisconsin.

Yesterday, after Natural Selection Foods did what from a distance looked to be all good things with timely recalls and warnings, a spokesperson for the company told the Associated Press and New York Times and other outlets, “What we do is produce food that we want to be healthy and safe for consumers, so this is a tragedy for us.”

A tragedy for us?

FOR US?!?!

Sorry, but I’m still shaking my head…

(Posted by Ray Jordan)

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“Reputation” gaining on “corruption”

OK, here’s a silly little thing.

Check out this Google Trends display. There’s a suggestion that we’re becoming increasingly more interested in “reputation” than in “corruption” (except perhaps in Washington, DC, as the chart shows). That’s an encouraging little social sign, no?

Perhaps we are what we search.

(Posted by Ray Jordan)

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Unraveling one slender thread around reputation

Sometimes you get some interesting pieces to a puzzle; and only months later as more pieces arrive do you start to see how they may be fitting together.

Let’s try putting a couple of pieces together on the topic of business reputation in the United States, thanks in large measure to data generated from the often insightful Pew Research Center.

First, let’s start with the sobering finding that public regard for business corporations has been in a downright plummet… from 73% of Americans favorable in 2000 to 45% favorable in late 2005. How low is 45%? Well, in 20 years of data collection, it’s never before dropped even as low as 50/50. Here’s a link to the Pew Research Center report.

Now, let’s mix in a broader finding from reputation research. This finding is that a large portion of the public regard for a company can be traced to the public perception of how that company treats its own employees. Although I’ve seen this regularly confirmed in proprietary research over the years, I don’t have a ready link to a publicly-available study. (I’d be happy for any comments that might remedy that.)

Now for the linkage. Pew has new research about workers in America that shows a profound shift in the levels of loyalty between employers and employees. According to Pew, “By a margin of 56% to 6%, Americans say employers are less, rather than more, loyal to workers now than they were a generation ago… By a similar margin of 51% to 8%, the public says workers show less, rather than more loyalty, to their employers now than they did a generation ago.” Here’s the link to that research.

So, to summarize:

Unprecedented drop in the underlying loyalty between employees and employers.

Unprecedented drop in public favorability towards business corporations.

Coincidence?

I think not.

Causality is tougher to prove. But this potential link does raise a couple important questions, given the pressures of today’s business environment:

1) can the sense of loyalty ever be restored between companies and their employees, generally recognized as one of their most valued assets?

2) if the answer to 1) is “no”, is there anything in the relationship between employer and employees that is powerful enough to substitute for loyalty – purpose, personal challenge, intellectual growth, etc?

(Posted by Ray Jordan)

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