PR leaders weigh agency issues at ICCO Summit 2003

BERLIN, GERMANY: A panel of corporate PR leaders told attendees of the ICCO Summit 2003 that it is difficult for firms to get involved in developing clients' business strategies. However, in-house teams value the outside perspective that PR firms bring, they added.

BERLIN, GERMANY: A panel of corporate PR leaders told attendees of the ICCO Summit 2003 that it is difficult for firms to get involved in developing clients' business strategies. However, in-house teams value the outside perspective that PR firms bring, they added.

The ICCO Summit, produced in association with PRWeek, was held in Berlin on October 16-17.

The corporate panel was the final session in the two-day conference, which also featured former US State Department spokesman James Rubin; Fred Hill, EVP of marketing and communications for JPMorgan Chase; and Thomas Yang, head of worldwide marketing for Starbucks.

John Graham, CEO of Fleishman-Hillard, joined Harris Diamond, Weber Shandwick CEO, and Michael Morley, deputy chairman of Edelman, in leading the penultimate session on the state of the agency business.

"It always comes back to people," Graham said, talking about the importance of finding the right people. "If we're going to foul up a client situation, nine times out of 10 it's because we missed cues from the client that we had the wrong kind of person running the account."

Peter Hindle, former director of external relations for Procter & Gamble's business units, told the participants that while it is "almost impossible" for agencies to be involved in business strategy, "what we want is an external focus," he said. "Business strategy has to belong to the corporation."

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