Traveling the Network

May 12, 2010

Traveling the Network

Before I forget.  As I travel to Weber Shandwick offices around the network in Europe, some things resound in my head. One constant is that I am always reminded how much I enjoy and respect the people I work with inside our network. As colleagues, they are immensely collegial, collaborative, client-first focused and committed. Reputations are built on these types of factors and it is good to be reminded how deep it goes. But returning to a few other things that caught my eye as I traveled last week and look ahead to this week…..
• My colleagues in Berlin told me that the day before I arrived, there had been a march protesting “work.” I found it fun to think about. Down with work! How would we pay our bills? I meant to follow up with this online but forgot because I had to work.

• In a taxi back to my hotel in Berlin, I saw a restaurant named White Trash Fast Food. Wonder what that was?  I think it is a place for music, food and tattoos.

• In some research our parent company IPG did on New Realities among consumers, one of the findings was that people were not suffering from data overload. In fact, US citizens and our German brethren (in a separate study) by Respondi said that they were energized by being their own researchers and not frustrated, overwhelmed and inundated as people think they are. In fact, people felt smarter and in greater control over their choices than ever before. One of my colleagues in Germany mentioned that there was a big debate in his country about information overload and that the abundance of data was making us dumber not smarter. I think not.

• In Brussels, I learned that the head of NATO is a frequent Twitterer. I also learned that the EU’s broadcast service….EbS…Europe by Satellite, provided such good up-to-date information that journalists were losing their edge in being able to report on EU news. I was told that EBS was so good that it broadcasted negative as well as positive information about itself. What’s a journalist to do?

• One well-known and large Fortune 100 company communications professional told us how the company had established an “amplification” room, not a war room, to deal with two years of criticism in order to get their story properly told.

• Another company at our lunch in Brussels had recently won approval from management to develop a word of mouth program that would allow for the negative with the positive. He talked about how hard he had worked at getting it to happen and how a pilot was about to begin that would telegraph the program in consumer language, not corporate speak. He was reading a book titled The Conversation Manager. One victory at a time.

• Our Milan office organized a superb event with the American Chamber of Commerce, a well-known journalist, one of our Milan office’s leaders and the US Consul General who spoke about the rising “green economy” in the U.S. I was there to talk about The New Normality that I mentioned in my last posting. The US Consul spoke highly of President Obama’s efforts and I have to say it felt so good to hear some pro-Obama talk after weeks of backbiting at home.

• I ran into someone in a large department store off the beaten path in Milan who had been at the event with the American Chamber of Commerce. It was Saturday morning around 11AM. Could the world be smaller? He had just bought sunglasses.

• I made it to Amsterdam despite the volcanic ash debacle. It was a long day.

The Economist wrote an article where they mentioned “headline risk.” Since I often write about reputation risk, I think this is an increasing factor in reputation recovery….reducing headline mentions. At what point does headline risk start to dissipate? And what has to happen? One course of action is a CEO apology or CEO dismissal. That’s been proven to work but not always the best solution.

More later on the rest of my trip.  Will update you on Amsterdam, Paris, London and Madrid in due time.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of corporate and CEO reputations.

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