SAN FRANCISCO: Globalization, and the role of PR post-September 11,
were dominant themes of the International Communications Consultancy
Organization's (ICCO) annual summit last week.
"It's hard to imagine another time when communications, in all its
dimensions, was in such dire need," said David Drobis, chairman of
Ketchum and president of ICCO, in his opening keynote.
Drobis also rejected Morgan Stanley's chief economist's recent assertion
that globalization would meet a "demise" as a result of the attacks.
In one sense, the conference itself was a victim of the terrorist
attacks, with attendance significantly lower than hoped. Nevertheless,
140 CEOs and senior executives from PR firms in 24 different countries
gathered in San Francisco for the event.
Panel discussions were held on a range of issues. Bob Feldman, CEO of
GCI Group, moderated a discussion of global client services, presenting
the results of a survey of 20 global brands, including Microsoft, Ford,
McDonald's, and Xerox.
"Most companies surveyed do not have, or desire to have, a policy on
recruitment of PR agencies worldwide," Feldman reported. "Of the 20
companies surveyed, 18 did not prefer to have a global agency."
CT Hew, president of Golin/Harris in China, said that geographical
distance from a client's headquarters poses a formidable challenge when
servicing an account.
Aedhmar Hynes, CEO of Text 100, analyzed her firm's recent international
IBM account win in the client services context. "It's one thing winning
a piece of business the size and magnitude of IBM," she said. "It's
another thing to deliver."
Kirk Stewart, VP of corporate communications at Nike, joined Sara Sizer,
Shell's director of group communications, to discuss how their companies
have responded to global pressure to change their environmental and
labor policies. "We recognize more than ever that we live in a goldfish
bowl," Sizer said.
Larry Weber, CEO of Interpublic Group's Advanced Marketing Services,
moderated a discussion on the use of the internet as a marketing tool,
with Tony Cervone, GM's director of executive communications, offering
his company as a case study.
Lou Capozzi, chairman of Manning Selvage & Lee, led a discussion of
global issues management. A discussion of managing for profitability was
led by Richard Nichols, CEO of Incepta Group.
The proceedings took a lighthearted turn with an Oxford Union-style
debate over the merits of globalization. Harris Diamond, CEO of the
world's biggest PR agency, Weber Shandwick Worldwide, argued against
globalization (which is his own philosophy, as he took pains to point
"Globalization, I will say now, is a term that has no meaning, other
than to tear the heart apart," Diamond said. Dr. Christian Koenig,
managing director of Farner PR and Consulting in Switzerland, joined
Diamond in his opposition.
Jean Pierre Beaudoin, MD of Information et Enterprise from France and
Jerry Olszewski, director of Ketchum's international operations, argued
in favor of globalization. A vote at the end of the debate resulted in a
Participants were also asked to respond to an Echo survey about
corporate citizenship. Preliminary results revealed that 81% of those
responding believe that clients underestimate the importance of PR and
communications in corporate social responsibility.