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Tony’s Takeaways from Iprex Conference


PR Conversations author Tony Muzi Falcone blogged on Friday May 16 about a recent global PR conference he attended. The conference was hosted by IPREX  which is “one of the world’s largest public relations corporations made up of leading firms in major markets worldwide.” IPREX is also among the “leaders in the application of communications technology to international public relations work.”

Global PR directors who attended the conference include: Harvey Greisman of Mastercard, Gary Sheffer of General Electric, Barbara Pierce of Kodak, and Karl Folta of Viacom, among many others.

 The following are some points from Tony’s notes that I found really interesting, followed by some questions for all of you.

  • The world is resetting and we should reset our profession, which has become inherently global in its nature. (What does this mean for us? ) 
  • Employees are today our topical and priority stakeholder; followed by government and then by customers. (Is this due to the recession and corporations dealing with layoffs, pensions, benefits etc?)
  • Good governance and ethical performance are today the top drivers of our reputation. (I’m sure most of us agree this is true, but do you think organizations are really perusing it? Who’s doing a good job, and who isn’t?)
  • Social media is an increasingly important tactical tool (about 75% of the international audience of agency professionals raised their hand when asked if they twittered) and public relations directors cannot afford to remain on the sidelines. (Clearly we are taking this class because we see the importance in social media, but can someone please explain to me that actual value in Twitter?)

 Over and out.



May 20, 2009 - Posted by | Review of Monitored Site, Uncategorized | ,


  1. Hey Bail,

    Your question re: good governance and ethics (and whether or not companies are actually pursuing it) piqued my interest and I thought I’d share my thoughts on the subject.

    In recent history, it seems as though awareness about issues such as health, safety and the environment in relation to companies products and practises is being raised exponentially more than in the past. Just to throw a few examples out there: awareness about health effects of smoking/tobacco use, the coinage of the term “carbon footprint” and the release of movies such as “The Corporation” and “Super-Size Me.”

    These cultural artifacts have produced shifts in publics’ attitudes, and suddenly companies find themselves in situations where they must defend themselves in order to retain customers (and sustain their bottom lines).

    So how do these companies react? While I’m sure there are exceptions to the rule, in my opinion, the vast majority of large, affluent companies use “band-aid” solutions – essentially doing something that will make consumers a little happier (and possibly distracted) without actually addressing problems that drive unethical behaviour in the first place (aka GREED!).

    Take McDonald’s for example. After “Super-Size Me” came out, their reaction was to remove the super-size option from the menu and add things like salads (HUGE band-aid move, especially since some of their salads contain, with dressing, the same fat and calories as Big Macs). But aside from this, did they take any serious measures to improve their existing menu items to make them healthier in spite of the bottom line? No. They made small steps to make it APPEAR as if they were responding in the interest of their consumers’ health. (And speaking of bottom line – because of the recession, McDonalds will be moving towards using cheaper, South American beef… in spite of the environmental consequences of destroying rain forests for cattle farms and transporting the beef further than many of us have ever travelled ourselves… and in spite of the fact that this would cause greater damage to the economy by outsourcing instead of supporting local farmers).

    Another, and perhaps even better example of a band-aid solution is the Dove campaign for real beauty. While the message they’re sending is essentially a good one, it’s important to remember that Dove is part of the Unilever conglomerate – which also owns companies like AXE. AXE’s branded messages (in the form of advertising, etc) perpetuate stereotypes of what it means for women to be beautiful, and wildly contradict Dove’s messages about beauty. What Unilever is doing here is giving women a little bit of what they want, but not fully getting behind a cause in the interests of their bottom line.

    I’m not a pessimist – I just have a hard time believing that companies will suddenly become completely transparent because of social media. I think companies will use it to leverage the good things they’re doing in order to improve their reputations, without actually revising their business models.


    – L

    Comment by Laura Hawkins | May 22, 2009 | Reply

  2. I totally agree. Your examples clearly define the “social responsibility” attempts of many corporations. These “band-aid” solutions or prescriptions as you’ve describe will most likely only last a short time before their greed returns them to past behaviour or people finally realize that the root of the problem has not been solved.

    We all know what happens to a band-aid when it gets wet… it’ll be interesting to see how these corporations react when their solutions wear off.

    Comment by beewilly | May 23, 2009 | Reply

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