Wednesday, December 2, 2015

"Generation #Hashtag" setzt auf neue Medienformate

Rein digitale und mobil verwendbare Formate wie Streaming-Dienste, Casual Games und Plattformen für Selbstverleger sind auf dem Vormarsch und bedrängen zunehmend die konventionellen Angebote. Die neuen Medienformate setzen sich zunehmend durch und verändern die Spielregeln in der globalen Medienindustrie grundlegend. Vor allem bei der „Generation #Hashtag“ stoßen sie auf rasch wachsendes Interesse.

Diese Generation vereint die mit dem Internet aufgewachsene Altersgruppe der bis zu 25-Jährigen mit Älteren, die sich dem digitalen Zeitalter verschrieben haben. Weltweit übersteigt die Zahl dieser „Digital Natives“ bereits diejenige der Nutzer konventioneller Angebote wie CDs oder herkömmlichem TV. In Deutschland zählen 68 Prozent der 15- bis 25-Jährigen und 47 Prozent der 26- bis 35-Jährigen zu dieser Gruppe.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Social media to require a long-term strategy

"We need to engage in social media. Our competitors are already very active." That was the tenor at a recent customer meeting. There were no clear ideas but rather the need to compete and not to carelessly give away market share. They had heard that a corporate blog would be important to produce content and thus pushing the rankings in the organic search on Google. And video content would be important in order to be found on YouTube. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn - also major media when it comes to reach different target groups. So far fine - or not? There are no standard solutions about what a company really needs and which communication tools it should record. It depends on many things, and it is a strategic issue.

Lost in numerous channels

Many small and medium-sized companies are familiar with such issue. They are lost in the myriad of channels of digital communication and unable to find the way through the maze of opportunities. Branding, communication, marketing is often a matter of the boss, a communication specialist rarely to be found in these companies. And the boss has to take care of the core business and can hardly afford time to act as an expert when it comes to brand building and management. This is the great moment for agencies and service providers to come up with wordy offers and to warn that the social media train is already gathering speed. Depending on how good the provider's sales talk was, the company may invest in a Facebook account, an Adwords campaign, a corporate video or a corporate blog. And then?

Hyperactivity and its consequences

Apart from a few clicks, the money for an Adwords campaign ends up in smoke, the highly creative web campaign gets some Likes, the company video is clicked a couple of times and the Facebook page only shows that the company is also there. However, the desired effect failed to materialize, the initial euphoria evaporates. And last but not least, the expense of the social media presence have been totally underestimated. The old rules of marketing communications are no more useful. It's no longer about sending information but about dialogue. And this means constant monitoring, timely storytelling and immediate responding to comments. A lot of today's social media pages are just wasteland. The claim has been staked but not plowed. Because nobody had time for it, no one really knew about, there is no strategy, no plan.

Never without a strategy

The best measure is useless if it is just ordered because something needs to be done. Those who want to act sustainably and with foresight need a coherent strategy. Agencies are quick in selling an online campaign, a Facebook presence or a new website. And customers, especially in the small and middle enterprise sector, like to purchase such measures - just because something needs to be implemented quickly. But this is waste of money. Namely, when all these measures are not integrated and are not coordinated. Even the most creative idea is of little use if it does not match with clear goals, misses target groups, and the "strategy" is limited to the planning of individual measures. Before implementing a corporate blog, a video or a new Facebook presence, it should be carefully reviewed if all these new measures really make sense for the company.

Relevance is the criteria

It is not necessarily logical that all these things are needed. It is not for any business a must to be active and omnipresent in social media. The company's positioning and objectives may neither be stronger nor accomplished. Crucial for the selection of instruments - including social media which are ultimately only an element in the mix - is a communication strategy designed for long-term success and based on the corporate strategy and a thorough analysis of the desired market positioning and the standing compared to competitors. The strategy defines objectives, exactly describes target groups, formulates positive messages and provides a creative guiding principle.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Crisis communication: Three simple but important tips

Make friends before you need them! Good and trustful relationships with your stakeholders are like a hard currency: Should things get wrong, they won't immediately drop you just like a hot potato. Media, customers, employees and the general public will show patience and trust the statements of a company which they already know as being usually reliable. To communicate openly, consistently and transparently already before a crisis is the best preparation - and therefore a top advice! 

Closing eyes and hoping for the best never works! Half-truths, empty words or accusations may worsen the critical situation just like a tightened lid on a steamer about to explode at any time. Therefore: no cover-up, no excuses, it is just the truth that counts. This has to be respected by all people involved. Also important: Identify early enough all managers authorized to make public statements for the company.

Don't forget to communicate internally! Employees are important ambassadors of the company. For example, some will be called by customers, suppliers or even colleagues and asked critical questions. Make therefore sure, that the employees get all the necessary information from the management instead from the press. Answer to unpleasant questions in an open and honest manner. Because secretiveness will only create rumours, uncertainty and dissatisfaction.

Wie motiviere ich Mitarbeiter zu unternehmerischem Denken?

Vor allem in international tätigen Grossunternehmen verlieren sich Teams allzu gerne in der täglichen Routinearbeit und im bürokratischen Kleinkram. Es dauert lange, mit Projekten voranzukommen, wenn man dabei immer wieder auf Antworten und Genehmigungen warten oder sich bemühen muss, die nötigen Budgets dafür in den verschiedensten Bereichen aufzutreiben.

Diese Klippen lassen sich umschiffen, indem man die Mitarbeitenden zu unternehmerischem Denken und Handeln motiviert. Folgende Strategien können dabei helfen:
  • Experimentieren: Ein oder zwei Mitarbeitende eines Teams werden aufgefordert, ein Projekt "im stillen Kämmerchen" voranzutreiben, ohne allfällig betroffene Stellen allzu früh darüber zu orientieren und einzubinden.
  • Informieren: Die Ergebnisse werden an die grosse Glocke gehängt. Andere Führungskräfte des Unternehmens werden über die Resultate dieses Experiments informiert und ermutigt, das Projekt zu unterstützen.
  • Überwachen: Das Projekt wird genau überwacht. Die Kosten dürfen während des ganzen Prozesses nicht über ein für das Unternehmen akzeptablen Verlust hinausgehen.
Mit einem solchen Vorgehen können einem Team die Vorteile raschen unternehmerischen Handels vor Augen geführt werden.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Managementfotografie: Die Macht des Bildes

Die oberste Führung prägt das Image eines Unternehmens entscheidend – gewollt oder ungewollt. Das zunehmende Interesse der Stakeholder an deren Persönlichkeit führt dazu, dass sich die Kommunikation auf diese fokussiert. In einer zunehmend digitalen und von Informationen überfluteten Welt gelingt dies nicht ohne Visualisierung. Die starke Wirkung von Bildern ist längst bekannt: Sie transportieren Inhalte und Emotionen oft schneller als das geschriebene Wort. Denn Wörter allein geben nicht annähernd die Prozesse des menschlichen Verstandes wieder. Ein Blick in die aktuellen Geschäftsberichte bestätigen die Macht des Bildes.

Schon mit den Managerportraits auf den ersten Seiten eines Geschäftsberichts tun sich viele schwer: Zugeknöpfte dunkle Anzüge, dezente Krawatten, verkrampfte Körperhaltung, aufgesetztes Lächeln vor nichtssagendem Hintergrund prägen den Eindruck nachhaltig, vermitteln aber wohl kaum das beabsichtigte Bild des Unternehmens. Inszenierte Bilder der Unternehmensführung genügen heutigen Ansprüchen immer weniger. Erfreulicherweise haben sich Geschäftsberichte in den letzten Jahren aber stark gewandelt: vom gesetzlich vorgeschriebenen Finanzdokument mit beliebigen Fotos aus dem Archiv, über das umfassende Informationswerk mit eigenständigen, künstlerischen Bildstrecken hin zum journalistischen Magazin mit attraktiven Geschichten und aussagekräftigen Bildern. Und der Geschäftsbericht entwickelt sich weiter: Heute gehören die Online-Version, die App und der interaktive Finanzbericht dazu.

In erstklassigen Berichten harmonieren Bild und Text. Beide vermitteln eindeutige Botschaften. Das geschieht vor allem dann, wenn die Unternehmenstätigkeit in stimmige Sinnbilder, Metaphern, Assoziationen und sonstige Symbole übersetzt wird. Gut ist, was stark wirkt. Gefragt sind authentische Charakterbilder mit Aussagekraft. Für Oliver Schmitt, Bildredakteur bei Spiegel online, sind dabei zwei Dinge besonders zu beachten: Körpersprache und Hintergrund. „Der Betrachter merkt sofort, wenn ein Unternehmensführer nicht organisch ins Bild passt und einen gequälten Gesichtsausdruck macht. Leader müssen Selbstsicherheit in einer glaubwürdigen Umgebung ausstrahlen.“ Noch immer gebe es viel zu viele unspezifische Bilder, die weder mit dem Unternehmen noch seiner Persönlichkeit zu tun hätten. Die Sujets müssten einen hohen Anspruch an reale Gegebenheiten aufweisen. Für Schmitt gibt es eigentlich nur zwei Sorten Bilder: „Gute und schlechte. Wer ein Auge dafür hat, erkennt sofort die Qualität. Und trotzdem interpretiert vielleicht jeder Betrachter das Bild anders.“

Je mehr die sprachlichen Signale mit den optischen harmonieren, desto besser ist die Qualität. Denn wenn die Botschaft des Berichts mit der Unternehmensentwicklung und -identität übereinstimmt, wirkt sie überzeugend. Das Ergebnis eines professionellen Umgangs mit den Bildern in einem Geschäftsbericht sind innere Bilder, die in den Köpfen der Betrachter spontan entstehen, wenn sie an das Unternehmen und seine Leistungen denken. Gute Bilder schaffen Vertrauen, erzählen, was das Unternehmen macht und versichern dem Investor, dass sein Geld gut angelegt ist. Ryan Pyle, Abenteurer und preisgekrönter Fotograf, bringt es auf den Punkt: „Das Bild in einem Geschäftsbericht muss perfekt sein. Es muss den Moment einfangen und zum Unternehmen und seiner Tätigkeit passen. Es darf keinen Raum für Verwirrung oder Missverständnis lassen. Jedes muss eine klare und starke Botschaft vermitteln, am richtigen Ort und zur richtigen Zeit.“ Passen Bildmotive und Geschäftsphilosophie zusammen und bieten gleichzeitig Aussergewöhnliches ergeben sie ein stimmiges Gesamtbild des Unternehmens, das Emotionen weckt und dem Betrachter in Erinnerung bleibt. Denn dass Kunden und Investoren ihre Entscheide allein rational treffen – diese Vorstellung gehört endgültig ins Reich der Legenden.

Eine bessere und einfachere Kommunikation ist angesichts der heutigen Informationsflut für jedes Unternehmen eine Herausforderung: Mit dem richtigen Bild kann Vieles viel einfacher kommuniziert – und besser verstanden – werden. Voraussetzung ist aber, dass die Unternehmen rasch Kompetenz über Bildwelten aufbauen, die einen nachhaltigen visuellen Eindruck hinterlassen.



Thursday, May 21, 2015

Change management: PR as a transformational driving force

The highly competitive nature of markets today means corporations must evolve and change in order to stay relevant and keep ahead of the competition. Where once communicators did little more than spread information, there is now a golden opportunity for PR to play a much more significant role in shaping change.

By Amybel Sánchez de Walther, IPRA President 

Managing change does not involve arbitrary or capricious actions. Rather, it’s a case of responding to a strategic notion addressed to the imperative requirements of new markets. 

Once a corporation has expanded to reach maturity, many leaders become aware of the necessity for change. Making sure the objectives of an organisation are sustainable is vital, assuming particular importance in the context of recession and economic deceleration.

The management of change starts from an extensive organisational assessment, which comprises the evaluation of the main strategies of the business and its internal and operational processes. Last but not least, evaluation should extend to features related to culture. By that I mean the history, values, reputation, and the interaction of the external and internal publics. Through the collection of this valuable and diverse information it is possible to propose a strategic plan of changes for the different levels inside the organisation.

In that sense, actions may impact in different sectors:
  • a) in the guidelines from the knowledge, profiles, values and culture that are desired to be spread originate;
  • b) the contributor or the employee (leaders, middle-ranking officials, workers) who work for the organisation;
  • c) the working groups from the different areas that comprise the company; and
  • d) the culture that is built on and arises out of the former ones.

Strengthening feedback

As may be deduced, PR practitioners have particular influence and responsibility for many of these levels inside and outside the organisation. One of the key points is based on the design of adequate communication related to the projects, processes and quality practice. In parallel, they shall seek to strengthen the feedback channels to make the transitional period fluent and effective.  

In addition to leadership skills, PR practitioners shall face the challenge to support the different areas and contributors to be aligned to the requirements of the changes. This initiative of cooperation shall be interrelated with their empathy to submit the information (personally or through interactive official channels or multimedia) with emphasis on clearness, transparency and persuasion: essential components to inspire trust and in this way reduce the degree of uncertainty among internal and external publics.

The experience and expertise for creating influential and persuasive messages may boost PR practitioners to develop projects addressing the optimisation of change management. This entails establishing and organising networking with areas such as Human Resources and Finance. 

More than a sounding board

In so doing, PR practitioners move from being passive agents in charge of spreading information (a "sounding board") or cooperating occasionally (sometimes far from the circumstances or the root causes) to become creative leaders (engines and sources of innovative ideas), technicians (capable of developing projects and proposals related to the changes) and coaches. It is not only a matter of informing but of guiding, supporting and re-joining the publics in the face of the organisational culture.

In short, the presence of PR practitioners in the context of change and transformation is part of the multidisciplinary nature that is gaining ground for our profession in different parts of the globe. A crucial and demanding crossroads has been reached and the opportunity is there for PR to play an enhanced role by participating in the most important organisational decisions. 

For this reason, it is imperative that PR practitioners familiarise themselves with the processes, requirements and impacts of the business – which will change sooner or later, according to the exigencies and dynamism typical of the current market.

Author’s Details

Dr. Amybel Sánchez is IPRA President for 2015. An IPRA member for eight years, she has been the representative member of the Latin American Chapter since 2010.

Currently, Dr. Sánchez serves as the Director of the Research Institute of the Professional School of Communication Sciences at Universidad de San Martín de Porres in Lima, Peru. She holds a PhD and MA in Communication and Public Relations. Her publications focus on the evolution of Public Relations in Peru within both an academic and professional context. As part of her contribution to the development of PR and communications, she serves as a jury member for several local and foreign associations.

Dr. Sánchez believes that an ever closer relationship between the business world and the academic community is essential in sharing knowledge and improving society.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Berichten sie noch oder führen sie schon?

Unternehmen müssen mehr denn je Verantwortung für ihr Handeln übernehmen und darüber umfassend berichten. Anstelle von Finanzkennzahlen rücken Strategie, Geschäftsmodell und Wertschöpfung in den Fokus einer ganzheitlichen Berichterstattung. Sind Unternehmen dazu überhaupt in der Lage? Was sind die wesentlichen Aspekte? Und wie verändert sich das Führungsverhalten? Mit diesen und anderen Fragen setzen sich am 6. Geschäftsberichte Symposium vom 11. Juni 2015 im GDI in Rüschlikon-Zürich Wirtschaftsführer, Experten und Kommunikatoren auseinander.

Die traditionelle Berichterstattung stösst an ihre Grenzen. International entwickeln sich Gesetze und Normen zur Nachhaltigkeitsberichterstattung und zur Offenlegung von Risiken und nichtfinanziellen Informationen. Unternehmen müssen sich deshalb zunehmend mit einer integrierten und nachhaltigen Geschäftsführung auseinandersetzen. Denn ihr Erfolg hängt nicht mehr allein von Kompetenz, Knowhow und Qualität ab sondern auch davon, wie sie auf ökologische und gesellschaftliche Entwicklungen im Umfeld reagieren. Die Erwartungen der Anspruchsgruppen zielen inzwischen nicht mehr nur auf ein profitables sondern auch auf langfristig wertschöpfendes, nachhaltiges Unternehmertum, das sich in der Berichterstattung widerspiegelt. Damit tun sich jedoch viele Unternehmen noch immer schwer. „Die meisten wollen ihre Berichterstattung nicht ändern, weil sie die Risiken einer Offenlegung von nichtfinanziellen Leistungen noch immer höher einschätzen als deren Vorteile“, meint Robert G. Eccles, Harvard-Professor und Vordenker der integrierten Berichterstattung. „Kaum einer will den Lead übernehmen, solange nicht andere das Feld gepflügt haben. Ich wünschte mir, dass dies ein Schweizer Unternehmen tut. Das wäre echte Leadership.“

Integriertes Denken und Handeln

In der integrierten Berichterstattung verbindet sich die klassische Finanzberichterstattung mit nicht finanziellen Kennzahlen und Informationen. Strategie und Geschäftsmodell sowie die damit einhergehende unternehmensspezifische Wertschöpfungsgeschichte stehen im Mittelpunkt. Sämtliche für die Wertschöpfung relevanten Ressourcen und Unternehmensbeziehungen werden in die Überlegungen miteinbezogen und nach dem Wesentlichkeitsprinzip priorisiert. Dies im Unternehmen zu verankern, ist eine grosse Herausforderung. Denn eine wesentliche Grundlage dafür ist das sogenannte integrierte Denken und Handeln. Das Management hat dabei stets die Wirkungszusammenhänge seiner Entscheidungen und die möglichen Auswirkungen auf das Umfeld im Blick und beschränkt sich nicht auf die eigene Perspektive. Es berücksichtigt vielmehr auch, wie andere Anspruchsgruppen die Wertschöpfung des Unternehmens wahrnehmen.

Leadership gefordert

Die Unterstützung durch das Topmanagement ist dabei ein wesentlicher Erfolgsfaktor: Sich frühzeitig mit unternehmensrelevanten Risikosituationen zu beschäftigen und Entscheidungen darauf auszurichten, ist eine Führungsaufgabe und erfordert Leadership. Weitsichtige Führungspersönlichkeiten haben dies erkannt und verstehen darum die Unternehmensberichterstattung als Führungsinstrument. Diejenigen Unternehmen, die dies erkennen und zielgerichtet bearbeiten, werden trotz einer weiteren Zunahme der Komplexität Wege finden, die Prinzipien der integrierten Berichterstattung umzusetzen, wie sie beispielsweise von Initiativen wie der Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) oder des International Integrated Reporting Committee (IIRC) vorgegeben werden. Aber auch für die übrigen Unternehmen gilt: Der Trend zu einer Verrechtlichung der Corporate Social Responsibility Themen und der Nachhaltigkeit wird zunehmen. Was heute noch freiwillig ist, könnte bald zur Pflicht werden. Damit steigen auch die Anforderung an die Ersteller von Geschäftsberichten: Liess sich die Finanzberichterstattung bisher noch mit übergrossen Zahlen, schönen Tabellen und farbigen Kuchendiagrammen illustrieren, sind nun Transparenz, Kreativität und Einfallsreichtum gefordert, um die nichtfinanziellen Informationen zu visualisieren.

CCR - Unabhängiges Kompetenzzentrum

Das Symposium wird ausgerichtet vom «Center for Corporate Reporting» (CCR). Das CCR ist das unabhängige Kompetenzzentrum für Unternehmensberichterstattung und die zentrale Anlaufstelle für alle Akteure, die sich mit Corporate Reporting beschäftigen. Es verfolgt den Anspruch, die Qualität des Reportings zu fördern und dessen Wirkung zu erhöhen – für die berichterstattenden Unternehmen selbst und für deren Anspruchsgruppen. Zu den Aktivitäten des CCR gehören unter anderem das jährliche Symposium, themenspezifische Events, die Fachzeitschrift «The Reporting Times», die Geschäftsberichte-Bibliothek und exklusive Dienstleistungen für Firmenmitglieder.



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Employee engagement and retention poised to become a crisis

Lack of employee engagement is the top issue currently facing 87 percent of Human Resources and business leaders (up from 79 percent last year), according to Deloitte's third annual Global Human Capital Trends 2015. Yet, the majority of organizations are still failing to take action to improve their culture, potentially jeopardizing future growth.

The survey was conducted among more than 3,300 HR and business leaders in 106 countries, and is one of the largest global studies of talent, leadership and HR challenges. The number of HR and business leaders who cited engagement as being "very important" doubled from 26 percent last year to 50 percent this year. 60 percent of HR and business leaders surveyed said they do not have an adequate program to measure and improve engagement, indicating a lack of preparedness for addressing this issue. Only 12 percent of HR and business leaders have a program in place to define and build a strong culture; while only 7 percent rated themselves as excellent at measuring, driving and improving engagement and retention. 

"As demand for talent picks up, the balance of power in business is rapidly shifting from the employer to the employee," said Josh Bersin, principal and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, in a news release. "Moreover, workers are becoming more mobile, contingent and autonomous, and as a result, harder to manage and engage. In this new world of work, organizations need to re-imagine the way they manage people and come up with new, out-of-the-box ideas to make themselves relevant."

Leadership, learning, and skills gap take center stage

Leadership gaps - last year's most critical issue - continued to be top of mind for HR and business leaders, 86 percent of whom cited it as a top issue this year. However, the number of respondents who said this was a "very important" issue jumped from 38 percent last year, to 50 percent this year. Interestingly, according to the Deloitte Business Confidence Report 2014, only 49 percent of C-level executives surveyed indicate that they are committed to developing leadership skills at all levels of the organization.

Recognizing the fact that a general lack of skills is likely to impede business growth, 85 percent of HR and business leaders ranked learning and development as a top issue, compared to 70 percent last year, making this the third most critical issue in this year's survey. Meanwhile, 80 percent of respondents cited workforce skills as a top issue (up from 75 percent last year), and 35 percent rated the lack of skills in HR as a "very important" problem, up from 25 percent last year.

"There are significant shifts happening in the global workplace that business must actively manage," said Brett Walsh, global human capital practice leader at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, in the release. "In addition to workers' changing expectations of employers, skills needed on the job are changing faster than ever. Organizations are quickly falling behind on developing the right skills across all levels. There's an urgent need for organizations to re-evaluate their learning programs and treat leadership development as a long term investment, rather than a discretionary training spend item when times are favorable."

Businesses are struggling to simplify the workplace

In addition to the challenges of employee engagement and leadership, the Deloitte report shows that companies are struggling to decrease workplace stress, simplify business processes, and reduce complexity. In fact, 66 percent of respondents believe their employees are "overwhelmed" by today's work environment; and 74 percent cite workplace complexity as a significant problem. While more than half of the surveyed organizations have some type of simplification program, 25 percent have no plans to implement a program.

"Simplification is a new theme emerging from this research," said Bersin. "Engaging and supporting employees today requires fresh design thinking about how work gets done."

Cognitive computing is changing the way we work

The increasing cognitive power of computers and software is challenging organizations to rethink the design of work and the capabilities their employees need to succeed. Fifty eight percent of leaders indicate that "redesigning work with computing as talent" is an important trend. However, while many executives are concerned, few have a strong grasp of the impact of cognitive computing on talent. Only 5 percent of executives surveyed say they have a strong understanding of what computing will do to their workforce.

"There is a need to redesign the workplace to integrate technology," added Bersin. "By leading the process of 'job redesign,' developing hard-hitting training programs, and working with technologists on the implementation of new technology, talent and HR leaders can help ease the transition of these technologies into the workforce and, ultimately, improve productivity and engagement."

Organizations are missing the growth opportunities presented by analytics

The Deloitte report reveals that analytics is one of the areas where organizations face a significant capability gap. Three quarters (75 percent) of respondents cited talent analytics as an important issue, but just 8 percent believe their organization is "strong" in this area—almost exactly the same as in 2014.

"HR and people analytics has the potential to transform the way we hire, develop and manage our people," said Jason Geller, principal at Deloitte Consulting, and national managing director of the U.S. human capital practice, in the release. "Leading organizations are already using talent analytics to understand what motivates employees and what makes them stay or leave. These insights help drive increased returns from talent investments, with huge consequences for the business as a whole."

Deloitte research shows that it will take several years for businesses to develop and absorb talent analytics technology, and "the sooner HR teams start working on building this capability, the better positioned they will be to address future talent issues," concluded Geller.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Trust and Innovation - 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer

The 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer found that countries with higher trust levels overall also show a greater willingness to trust new business innovations.

Building trust is essential to successfully bringing new products and services to market, and building trust in new business innovations requires that companies demonstrate clear personal and societal benefits, behave with integrity and engage with customers and stakeholders throughout the process.

Trust is a forward-facing metric of stakeholder expectation. It is an asset that institutions must understand and properly build in order to be successful in today’s complex world. We look at trust around the world, trust across industries and how to build trust.

Trust is also an important factor in driving market acceptance of new business innovations. The 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer finds that more than half of the global informed public believe that the pace of development and change in business today is too fast, that business innovation is driven by greed and money rather than a desire to improve people’s lives and that there is not enough government regulation of many industry sectors.

Toward Trusted Innovation

Countries with higher trust levels overall also show a greater willingness to trust new business innovations. Building trust is essential to successfully bringing new products and services to market, and building trust in new business innovations requires that companies demonstrate clear personal and societal benefits, behave with integrity and engage with customers and stakeholders throughout the process.

This year’s Trust Barometer offers key insights into the factors that increase and decrease trust, and defines a new formula for building trusted innovation.

Source: 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer - Trust and Innovation

Creativity in communication management consulting



Matthias Graf, CEO of Burson-Marsteller Switzerland, shares insights on the key factors to ensure good communication mangement consulting, illustrating the value of creativity and trust in the co-creation process between client and consultant. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

​Becoming a communication freelancer: is it right for you?

By Nadira Love, the Centre


One of the ongoing dilemmas in this current economic climate is deciding whether to become a freelance worker or a contracted employee. Most people would naturally assume that the key differences are heavily influenced by the financial implications. However, there are a number of other factors to take into consideration when making such a life-altering decision.

The pros


The idea of becoming a freelance worker may seem quite daunting at first, particularly if you've been working under a permanent contract for some time. There are definitely some obvious advantages to working for someone else: a stable income over a sustained period of time; being eligible for paid time off work; and so on. However, there are many benefits to freelancing as opposed to working directly for a company.


Before joining the Centre in June, I'd been freelancing for over three years at a range of organisations (predominantly within the television and film industry which is known to be over-populated with this kind of work). Initially, this worked out to be extremely useful as I was also studying at University so choosing when and where I worked was a perfect fit for my lifestyle.


I was able to develop a wider-range of unique skills and experience as a result of working with different organisations. This enabled me to enrich my CV and appeal to organisations from different industries.


As a freelancer I found there was more negotiation in my role at work as opposed to simply being told what to do, increasing my ability to work creatively and willingly on my own projects.

I also found that in most cases, I received more money for the work that I did and was able to claim back some of my daily expenses, such as travel and lunches. I found this very liberating and it felt great to be my own boss!

The cons


But, as my mum used to tell me - “With more freedom comes more responsibility!” And this is definitely the case freelancing.


One of the drawbacks of this work is being solely accountable for declaring income and covering your taxes. Being meticulous with figures is essential. It’s also important to plan any holidays well in advance so that they don't clash with important deadlines or any potential work that you may be offered... And, of course, managing your finances appropriately so that you can afford to take one.


Another limitation of the 'freelance work- style' is that it can occasionally be quite socially isolating. Freelance work often consists of long hours, working from home and working independently. Sometimes you’re working with a team on a project or contact but it’s difficult to maintain the relationships formed with other workers when the contact comes to an end. However, this can also be a relief if you have had to tolerate difficult or challenging personalities during this period of time!

Quality of life vs Quantity of time


Despite these drawbacks, it appears that working as a freelancer is becoming more and more popular. Not only with individuals who want to have more control over their working life but with employers too.


For many employers, they don’t have to worry about providing freelancers with office space, supplies or expensive electronic equipment - not to mention paying for sick pay or holidays. Freelancers offer employers flexibility and specialism without the induction training and employment contract.


Ultimately, the decision to go freelance can rest on your values - whether you value 'quality of life' (freelance) over 'quantity of time' (contracted employee). The great thing is freelance work is flexible and something that doesn't ever have to end, even after retirement years! It’s your choice.


Nadira Love is the Centre's In-company Training Coordinator. Whether it's a one-off awayday for a senior management team or a rolling programme for all staff, Nadira will work with you to make sure you get the most from your training.

Source: Becoming a freelancer: is it right for you? | the-centre.

Monday, January 26, 2015

10 principles to shake up thinking patterns

These are Annette B. Czernik's top ten principles to shake up thinking patterns and boost creative actions:
  1. Be curious and show an interest – observe and perceive what’s going on around you with heightened attention and awareness.
  2. Think long-term and embrace uncertainty – imagine various future scenarios, best case and worst case and how you would react to the different possibilities.
  3. Think like a visionary – dream and imagine how your environment and society could develop and how you could benefit from it.
  4. Challenge – do not just limit yourself to accept decisions or daily routines; rather ask yourself what you could do better about them.
  5. Get inspired – learn about others’ thoughts and ideas and play with them; appreciate team work as an opportunity for intellectual discourse; or assign a muse (whoever or whatever that might be for you).
  6. Develop tolerance for mistakes – adopt the perspective that every experience is an opportunity to learn and grow, be persistent and keep trying and experimenting.
  7. Trust your intuition – don’t just listen to your rational mind; give your intuition a chance as well.
  8. Organize – focus on the priorities even when the going gets tough or complex.
  9. Influence and convince others – communicate about your concepts and ideas and gain buy-in.
  10. Collect ideas – whenever you see or read or research something that sparks your interest, consider filing the material; you might need that stimulus later.

You may learn more about the importance of creativity for your company's success in Annette B. Czernik's article "No innovation without creativity" on www.inspired-executives.com.


Friday, January 16, 2015

6 Essential Steps for Surviving a Crisis

At the end of 2014, the headlines seem to be dominated by crisis stories — Sony, Bill Cosby, Eric Garner, Rolling Stone. Communicators often see individuals and brands go through troubled times, whether by their own fault or the actions of others, yet the mentality still persists in many corners of PR that “it won’t happen to us.” That’s a mistake.

By Richard Brownell*

Experiencing a brand crisis is not a matter of if, but when. Sooner or later, fate, or a disgruntled customer or unthinking manager, will plunge your brand into chaos. The best way to prepare for this inevitability is to plan for it in advance. Here are six steps you can take before a crisis ever hits that will help you when dark days descend.

Identify your team. Keep it manageable and focus on the key players: CEO, legal, CFO, subject matter expert, and, of course, PR.

Choose your spokesperson. This can be the head of your company, but oftentimes the best spokesperson is the one closest to the crisis. They will be more believable because they will be considered the most knowledgeable.

Develop your message. This is when you choose the words that will communicate the facts you need to get out to the public. Choose them wisely and stick to them.

Test your message. Train your spokesperson by creating a mock press conference in which they will practice delivering the message. And make it interesting. Play the role of a tough reporter and interrupt the spokesperson, or ask leading questions to trap them into saying something wrong. Offer them false or misleading information and see what they do with it.

Analyze. Go over the testing session and assess how the messaging worked, or didn’t work. How was the spokesperson’s performance? Did their body language, voice and eyes convey sincerity or discomfort? Did they fall into any traps that the reporters laid for them? Then make changes accordingly.

Meet the press. Coordinate your messaging across all digital and traditional media so that no mixed messages are sent out. Create a plan for engaging the media at the earliest opportunity after a crisis hits, but don’t rush out unprepared. Be armed with all the facts at your disposal and stay on message.

*Richard Brownell is Content Manager, PR Events at PR News. He has several years' experience in developing and producing online events. Richard is a published author with several titles for young audiences to his credit. He has also written political commentary for several popular websites and his stage plays have been produced in New York and other major cities.