EDITORIAL: International fallout from the US' Iraq policy must be considered by global corporations

A few weeks ago, a US Navy plane was attacked at a foreign airport by anti-war campaigners protesting the use of that facility as a stopover for the transport of American troops. Protests around the airport had been intense in the time prior to the incidents, and the local government announced it was deploying 120 armed soldiers to protect future aircrafts.

A few weeks ago, a US Navy plane was attacked at a foreign airport by anti-war campaigners protesting the use of that facility as a stopover for the transport of American troops. Protests around the airport had been intense in the time prior to the incidents, and the local government announced it was deploying 120 armed soldiers to protect future aircrafts.

Recent media reports also claimed that World Airlines, a large commercial airline that carries American troops to the Gulf, has rerouted its flights from that country to Frankfurt due to security concerns. Would it surprise you to know that the country in question is Ireland? Shannon Airport has long been a significant staging post for US soldiers bound for the Middle East. Yet when Richard Haass, the US State Department's director of policy and planning, was dispatched to Dublin to publicly denounce the incidents and communicate America's position on Iraq, few US news outlets bothered to report it. The dearth of details in the media about issues like these exacerbates potentially serious problems for global corporations. World opinion on potential military action against Iraq is, at best, mixed, even among the ranks of traditional allies and friends. American companies could find themselves bearing the brunt of international dismay over government policies. Corporations must be in constant dialogue with their overseas operations and the media to assess the potential impact of a movement against Iraq on their assets - both tangible and intangible. Corporate communicators, and their agencies, must step up and grasp the implications and complexity of these issues before it's too late. PR can propel women entrepreneurs A recent study of third-party-certified women-owned enterprises and Fortune 1000 purchasing execs revealed that women entrepreneurs still face challenges when selling goods or services to large companies. Conducted by the Center for Women's Business Research, and cosponsored by FleetBoston Financial and the Women's Business Enterprise National Council, the survey is significant for the PR industry, which counts many prominent women-owned agencies in its ranks. Many respondents reported that they have difficulties learning about business opportunities, and that it is a major factor contributing to the discrepancy. Reduction in business due to bundling of smaller contracts into fewer, larger contracts, and ongoing cost-cutting by customers also contribute to the problem. Moreover, 86% of corporations admitted the recent push to control costs had an impact on their efforts to increase diversity. Competition is fierce, and women-owned businesses, which have a lot of ground to gain in the ranks of top corporations, must be smart about developing relationships and demonstrating value. Michelle Boggs, president/COO of McKinley Marketing Partners, an Alexandria, VA-based company that provides PR and other marketing staffing services to businesses, said most of her clients are Fortune 1000 companies, but that she "shares the frustration of breaking into companies without a point of access." Boggs believes that good PR is the way forward. Women-owned businesses need to communicate their success stories to procurement officers and supplier diversity professionals, instead of relying on the simple fact of their diversity to tell the story.

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