ICCO CONFERENCE: Industry leaders lament and discuss themarginalization of PR in branding

SAN FRANCISCO: Companies are not using PR for corporate branding,

even though business leaders do not perceive a difference between the

corporate brand and corporate reputation.

The role of PR in corporate brand management was the topic of a panel

held during the ICCO annual summit, moderated by Bob Druckenmiller,

chairman of Porter Novelli International.

The panelists were Paul Argenti, professor of management and corporate

communications at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, John Onoda, SVP

and chief communications officer of Charles Schwab, and Burghardt

Tenderich, SVP of Applied Communications.

Druckenmiller revealed the results of a Tom Harris survey of 700 clients

on their attitudes toward the brand. "We asked, do they believe that in

the future their organizations would have to be managed as a brand, and

64% said yes. And more than 30% said they already were," Druckenmiller

reported. "But the majority said they did not have the internal


He also said most of the companies surveyed said there was "not really"

any difference between corporate brand and corporate reputation, but

that the resources they need internally are not PR, but brand


Onoda said one reason for PR's absence from the corporate branding

process is the result of weak in-house PR leadership. "In most major or

developed corporations, corporate communications is a minor, almost

irrelevant function," he said. Onoda added that PR agencies must help

their corporate counterparts gain credibility with strong

business-oriented strategies.

"A major impediment is that you have weak corporate partners," Onoda

said. "I advocate going in, understanding the business plan, and saying

where communications can have the most value. The greatest gain is by

making smarter clients."

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