EDITORIAL: A close look at PR's global community

As President Bush returns from an international summit in Genoa,

the timing of this week's international issue could not be better.

If you work for an international corporation, the Global Rankings

(starting on p. 15) give an invaluable snapshot of agency resources

wherever you might need them. There are reports on agency activities in

the US, Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Australia

and Canada. (Turn to the list of the world's top 25 agencies, p.


If you're facing yet another budget squeeze and are considering whether

to cut costs by instigating an international agency consolidation, don't

issue that RFP before reading about the experiences of those who have

tried it already ("The Global Dilemma," p. 17).

If you work for an agency, it offers insight of a different kind - the

comforting fact that things are tough on the other side of the world as

well. Reports from each region illustrate how agencies are waiting

longer for client decisions, working with smaller budgets, and fighting

harder for new business.

What also strongly emerges in the course of the Global Rankings is the

realization that for all the globalization of marketing, and of agencies

themselves, conducting PR internationally is still a game reliant on

people and their individual skills. No matter how vast your resources,

unless you have good relationships with the local media, investment

community or whoever else you need to communicate with, your global PR

strategy is worthless.

This is illustrated by a number of stories elsewhere in this issue, of

PR folks with their fair share of frequent flyer miles. James Rubin,

Madeleine Albright's ex-spokesman, shares his "podium" tips (see

Profile, p. 13), which he now hopes to put to good use in a corporate

setting in his new globe-trotting role at Brunswick.

Opposite, there's an analysis on the problems that the EC faces in

communicating with the "local" US press following its rejection of the

GE-Honeywell merger. And a feature in Campaigns (p. 46) tells how Weber

Shandwick Worldwide used savvy PR to influence public opinion, resulting

in Beijing winning the 2008 Olympics. In a mission that spanned every

continent, and with a final PR presentation in Moscow, the American and

London-based team gained third party endorsement from a global pool that

spanned Olga Korbut, Lance Armstrong and the Dalai Lama.

Despite protests at the G8 summit, then, the need for global PR is not

going to go away, and this is underscored in starkly different ways by

two other stories in this issue: Dell's global PR review (see p. 1); and

the exploitation of President Bush's anti-environment stance by

Greenpeace to galvanize support and raise funds for its global movement

(see Client Profile, p. 10).

Finally, in the week when the US government stood in glorious isolation

from the rest of the world on Kyoto, the damage this position brings to

this country's image is pause for thought. If a US corporation showed

the same blatant disregard for local communities, it would fail. But the

US has such an incredible influence on the global economy that the Bush

administration can afford to ignore public opinion outside of its

immediate constituencies.

Nevertheless, with American organizations taking an increasingly global

view of their communications, they must be concerned to be so out of

sync with world opinion.

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