The world leaders

Increasing globalization of PR has seen the importance of global account directors rise. John N. Frank profiles five

Increasing globalization of PR has seen the importance of global account directors rise. John N. Frank profiles five

Deborah Bowker Global key client relationship leader, Coca-Cola Burson-Marsteller, Washington, DC When Coca-Cola in the summer of 2003 had to deal with questions about the safety of its product in India, Burson-Marsteller global key client leader Deborah Bowker worked with Burson and Coke communicators on the scene and in Europe to create a specific and sustained response. She first sent team members from Asia and then Europe to work on the situation until it was resolved. The episode reinforced what Bowker sees as the most important issue when dealing with a global account. "It's important not to be US-centric," she says. Her Coke team includes account leaders in Europe and in Burson's marketing practice, a group of 50 people in 10 countries overall. Being a global account leader "puts you in a category where you are truly being an advocate across all geographies for your client," Bowker says. One issue that has called for different approaches in different geographies has been the obesity crisis, she explains. In the US, obesity is a consumer issue, but in many European countries, it's a governmental issue because of the greater role governments there play in healthcare systems. That necessitates different messaging and different techniques for delivering those messages. Keeping on top of local differences is a big part of her job. Bowker makes regular phone calls to team members around the globe to stay in touch, holds annual half-day team meetings, and has a website where all work product for the account, as well as news updates, are kept. "We're very connected," she says. Scott Friedman VP, global account leader, IBM Text 100, New York Scott Friedman has been working on IBM business at Text 100 for two years, but it's only been in the past six months that he's taken on the role of global lead on the account. His elevation to that post has been part of the evolution Text 100 promised IBM when it won its business roughly three years ago, he says. He sees his role as connecting the dots around the world to provide more effective PR for the client. "If everyone's focused on their own geography, a lot doesn't get done," he explains. "Part of the job is to understand how things play differently in different markets. My being in this role has helped us get a better view of what the nuances are from market to market." Friedman makes sure his 100-plus person team in 14 countries hears about best practices throughout the system. He talks to his European and Asian direct reports each week and is in touch with IBM daily. He expects to do more traveling as he continues in his role, with a typical week's schedule taking him to Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Beijing. As account lead, he knows he can't expect to keep regular working hours. "You've just got to know you'll be doing calls at 11 or midnight, and sometimes early in the morning," he says. Friedman agrees that talking to people, as opposed to writing, is essential. "You can easily lose an entire day if all you're doing is e-mailing," he notes. Jan Hausrath SVP and director, media relations, Dow Corning account lead APCO Worldwide, Washington, DC When Jan Hausrath took the lead on the Dow Corning account eight years ago, the client was in Chapter 11 as a result of litigation surrounding silicone breast implants. It wanted to reposition itself as it emerged from bankruptcy and sought an integrated communications strategy of global scope to reinvigorate the brand. Dow had relied on different marketing communications messages in its various geographies in the past, but wanted a new consistent message and visual identity that would cut across all regions and business units. As a result, Hausrath and her team of 16 in 20 countries have handled branding, launch events, media relations, and marketing communications for Dow. Unlike some of her peers who oversee global accounts, Hausrath does not have a formal title, such as global account leader, but she's looked to as the senior leader and has an APCO VP who reports to her to monitor worldwide communications for Dow to ensure the consistency the client wants is achieved. Staffing the account with highly qualified people has been a key to managing the Dow business, she contends. "You must be sure you have the right people at the table when decisions have to be made," she says. With experienced people on her team and at Dow - many on both sides have worked together since APCO won the account - "the learning is deep and the relationships are strong," Hausrath says. "That allows you to make difficult decisions quickly." Hausrath spends an average of 25% of her time traveling for the account. "The rules of engagement are you must be flexible and you need to be able to work on someone else's clock," she says. Jeff Hunt President, GCI Latin America Dell account lead, Austin, TX Jeff Hunt has been involved in GCI's Dell work since the agency won the account three years ago. "I'm the chief relations guy," he says. His job entails knowing what Dell is up to worldwide, sharing best practices among his 70 team members around the globe, and "putting out fires," he says. Hunt stays involved in the account by doing 80%-85% of all media training that GCI conducts for Dell executives. "I'm very hands on," he says, "It keeps you focused on staying current." GCI has 15 people in Texas working for Dell, four embedded in Dell's Round Rock, TX, headquarters. Other team members are on the West Coast, in New York, Canada, Mexico, Columbia, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and Puerto Rico, as well as in Europe. Keeping on top of issues around the world can be a challenge, Hunt says. His European team leader keeps track of issues there, assigning the colors red, yellow, and green, depending on their severity, to topics the company needs to be concerned about. Another challenge is cross-pollinating ideas from one region to another. Hunt feels there's a natural tendency to think that only the ideas that emerge from a region are any good in that region. He tries to overcome parochialism by passing on effective efforts from one country to others. Measuring results is a key part of Hunt's efforts on Dell. There's an extranet site that Dell and GCI team members can look at with measurements of what share of voice Dell is getting in various countries and how its competitors are doing. Discussing how the two sides work together, Lynn Tyson, Dell's VP of IR and corporate communications, says, "This collaboration occurs in a manner that provides leaders at both Dell and GCI with the opportunity to provide input and guidance on specific projects and requests. The emphasis is on the speed and efficiency of direct, real-time communication across the broad team." Summing up his role, Hunt says, "I'm chief navigation officer. If Dell has a need they come to me and I go trawling in the firm to find the people they need." JoEllen Zumberge Global account director, Royal Philips Electronics MS&L, London American JoEllen Zumberge, global account director on the Royal Philips account for MS&L, has found out that there's English and then there's English. Everyone on her 100-plus person account team spanning 20 countries speaks English. But some speak British English, others American English, and others variants they've learned in their native lands. So even in staff meetings when everyone is seemingly speaking the same language, Zumberge has to continually be alert to whether or not meanings are getting through. She also finds people who are less comfortable in English tend not to speak up as much, especially on conference calls when it's easy to just listen. "We're still learning how to talk to each other," she says. "I spend my day trying to push out and get information." MS&L works on five different Philips business areas. Zumberge has team heads for each area, three in London with her and two in New York. She checks in with MS&L Philips account people in at least half a dozen countries every day. "I can't tell you how important it is to stay in touch and talk both ways," she says. Zumberge became the first global account director on the Philips account 14 months ago after the agency had been working on various parts of the Philips business for eight years. As MS&L's Philips business grew, the need arose to have a point person to oversee and coordinate it all. The title also allows her easier access to top Philips officials. "If there's one person that has an answer for Philips, it's me," says Zumberge. ----- Global clients Coca-Cola Agency: Burson-Marsteller Countries: US, UK, Japan, China, Brazil, Colombia, Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, Norway, Spain. Account lead: Deborah Bowker, global key client relationship leader IBM Agency: Text 100 Countries: US, China, including Hong Kong and Taiwan, Japan, Australia, Korea, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden Account lead: Scott Friedman, VP, global account leader Dow Corning Agency: APCO Worldwide Countries: US, UK, Germany, France, Russia, Turkey, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Australia, Hong Kong, China, Korea, Thailand, Japan, Brazil, Spain, Argentina, Columbia Account Lead: Jan Hausrath, SVP and director, media relations Dell Agency: GCI Group Countries: UK, US, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Holland, Spain, Scandinavia, Italy, Mexico, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Eastern Europe, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, El Salvador, Panama Account Lead: Jeff Hunt, VP and agency leader Royal Philips Electronics Agency: MS&L Countries: US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Dubai, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, India Account lead: JoEllen Zumberge, global account director, London

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