G8 offers communicators a chance to speak to the world

The Group of Eight (G8) 32nd annual summit is being held July 15 to 17. The summit involves the eight largest industrialized democratic nations - Japan, Russia, the US, the UK, Canada, France, Germany, and Italy - and represents more than 65% of the world's economy.

The Group of Eight (G8) 32nd annual summit is being held July 15 to 17. The summit involves the eight largest industrialized democratic nations - Japan, Russia, the US, the UK, Canada, France, Germany, and Italy - and represents more than 65% of the world's economy.

Energy security and education will be the main issues. It will be held in Constantine Palace, located in Strelna on the Gulf of Finland, near St. Petersburg, Russia.

G8's roots go back to the 1973 oil crisis and subsequent global recession. Those troubles prompted the US to meet with senior financial officials from Europe and Japan. In 1975, French President Giscard d'Estaing invited the heads of state of six major industrialized democracies to a summit in Rambouillet, France. Dubbed the Group of Six (G6), it was the first meeting of what is now known as G8. The 2006 gathering marks the first time Russia will chair the international event.

Why does it matter?

The PR pro's role as strategic counselor is growing, notes Michael Greece, MD for Padilla Speer Beardsley. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the global community and market.

"[We] have to rely on thought leadership to differentiate and [help] our clients who increasingly depend on us for strategic counsel," says Greece. "The opportunity for PR people is to tie corporate knowledge into the top-of-mind issues that are going on in the world. You can't be socially responsible unless you know what the government leaders consider the big issues."

Greece stresses that G8 sits atop the priority pyramid for what is important to our society and the communications that keep that society revolving.

Five facts:

1 Ketchum has led Omnicom's effort to promote G8 this year. The agency has been running the account from its London office. The multimillion-dollar contract was for nine months.

2 The member states account for 49% of global exports, 51% of industrial output, and 49% of assets in the International Monetary Fund.

3 The European Union is represented at G8 by the European Commission president JosŽ Manuel Barroso (pictured) and current European Council president Matti Vanhanen.

4 Heads of state and government meet behind closed doors, with the Sherpas, personal representatives of the leaders, being the only outsiders to take part in talks. The Russian Sherpa is Igor Shuvalov, aide to President Vladimir Putin.

5 2006 G8 participants are Russia's Putin, President George Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, French President Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, and Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

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