This morning I attended the second annual Weber Shandwick Voiceboxx Executive Roundtable, featuring Jack Leslie, chairman of WS; David Steel, SVP of strategic marketing for Samsung North America; Jim Whaley, VP of corporate communications for Siemens; Anita Larsen, director of media relations for Unilever; and Chris Preuss, VP of communications for General Motors. Held at the Samsung Experience in New York's Time Warner Center and moderated by CNNMoney's Poppy Harlow, the event focused on communications during the recession and the recovering economy, and how social media plays a role.
“Our spending habits have changed and that makes the job of communications different and more difficult,” Harlow said, before launching into questions about social media changes for the various companies in attendance.
Preuss talked a bit about GM's earlier bankruptcy and restructuring, citing social media as a key part of the strategy, particularly when it came to CEO Fritz Henderson. “Having Fritz be on the overt side of transparency was critical and part of our strategy,” he said.
“It was a model of let's push communications out,” said Samsung's Steel, of the way communications used to be more one-way. Now, he explained, communications and social media is “a window of how consumer input comes into the organization.”
Whaley spoke about how Siemens, which is a b-to-b company, recently launched a major campaign to tell consumers the Siemens story, with the communications team taking the lead. The event ended with a Q&A session, which included questions about the effectiveness of major campaigns about core branding, the balance between a focus on social media and a focus on core principles and values, and if there is a shift in resources, putting more money on newer strategies.