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COMMUNICATION

www.communication-director.eu

DIRECTOR

Magazine for Corporate Communications and Public Relations

04/2012

A Cog in the Machine How communication keeps organisations in motion

The company foctotum takes centre stage

How communication supports, enables and drives corporate strategy

How and when to show the yellow card at work Learn to anticipate, handle and resolve conict in the workplace

I heard it on the grapevine: harnessing innovation Making the most of formal and informal organisational networks


Reputation research that helps you to keep your eye on the ball

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EDITORIAL

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rganisational communication is central to organisation success; that much is clear. But the how and why of organisational communication is an endlessly debated topic of enquiry. Organisations are living, breathing entities, so naturally the act of communicating within them also evolves. Current research on organisational theory and the way that the corporate communications function f its into today’s modern, complicated company represents a substantial body of work: our need to label, categorise and compartmentalise group achievement extends to the how and why we reach out and talk to one another as part of a group. But, as we all know, things that work so well in theory sometimes don’t make the grade in practice. That is why, in the Storyteller section of this issue of Communication Director, we have invited a mixture of theorists and practitioners to share their views on the form and function of corporate communications within organisations. And just as the old silo walls are being broken down by the possibilities offered by new technologies, today’s communication experts can f ind themselves wearing many different hats – professors take on consultancy roles while corporate directors give lectures at conferences. Among the authors in this issue, Anders Rendtorff explains how his company’s human resources department works together with corporate communications, and Hester de Voogd invites us to take a look at her group’s compliance communications. Dr Leandro Herrero challenges us to not just rethink but reboot the corporate communications function, and Professor Volker Witte draws a surprising and fascinating parallel between organisational communications and the natural world. It seems that the desire to organise the way individuals communicate to each other within large groups is not conf ined to us humans, after all.

Marc-Oliver Voigt Publisher marc-oliver.voigt@communication-director.eu

Photo: Moritz Vennemann

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“Corporate communication has come to include more and more processes.”

AGENDA SETTER Communication ideas in the eyes of experts

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“Skilful leaders sense which type of energy is present in their organisation.”

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Taking the high road

Where there is discord, may you bring harmony, where there is error, truth

Andrea Broughton

When ministers attack

THE STORY OF PR

LEADERS CEOs in the eyes of the media

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Instruments of peace

CEO Stockwatch

Looking back at landmark communications

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by CARMA International

Partners and pioneers in public relations The husband and wife team that helped set the stage for public relations as we know it

Meg Lamme

The corporate and academic stand on communication

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The big picture

The evolution of Spanish public relations, from the days of Franco to now

Jordi Xifra

It may be a overfamiliar buzzword, but what exactly does it take to be a thought leader?

THE BIG INTERVIEW

Mignon van Halderen and Kym Kettler-Paddock

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On decrees, disputes and definitions

Key communicators under the spotlight

The unstoppable rise of communications An array of external factors ensures that corporate communication continues to grow in relevance

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Harold Burson Co-founder, Burson-Marsteller

Suat Özyaprak

STORY TELLER

TEAM PLAYER

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How to improve personnel management and your career

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Good and bad team leaders Positive and negative energies shape your firm’s success, so be careful which one you harness

Annette B. Czernik

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Looking at the important questions of communication

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Part of the process? How does communication happen in your organisation? Who says what, to whom, and how?

Dafydd Phillips

Photo: wikimedia.org/ Reynold Brown (artist) Copyright assigned to Allied Artists.

STRATEGIC THINKER


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“ The people out there – co-workers as well as customers or citizens – need to be invited into communication planning.”

“This is a clear example of interventionism and censorship of freedom of expression.”

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Enabling strategy The crucial factors that enable strategic initiatives to be launched and supported

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Carsten Tilger

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Innovation networks Both formal and informal networks play their part in fostering innovation

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Hester de Voogd

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Leandro Herrero

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Photo: flickr.com/ Andres Nieto Porras

Astonishing examples of communication within complex organisations are right under our noses

COMMUNICATIONS READER Book Reviews

European Association of Communication Directors

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The latest developments in the EACD

QUESTIONS TO...

Breaking down the walls between human resources and communications

Social communication: lesson from nature

What will corporate communications look like in the not-so-distant future?

ASSOCIATION

Creating a powerful combination Anders M. Rendtorff and Morten H. Holmgård

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90

Your function is not needed: reboot Forget your function; instead, focus on your functionalities

View with 2020 vision Paula O’Connell and Anita van de Velde

Playing by the rules Communicating about regulatory compliance helps keep employees on the right side of the laws

Aligning strategy within the organisation is an exciting challenge for communication heads

Christopher Storck

Rick Aalbers, Wilfred Dolfsma and Otto Koppius

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Joining up the pillars

The personal side of Communication Directors

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Catherine Alexandre Vice President Internal and Sustainability Communications, Delhaize Group

Volker Witte

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When everything flows Organisational communication can no longer afford to be a closed-loop system

Jesper Falkheimer

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STRATEGIC THINKER The corporate and academic stand on communication

THE BIG PICTURE Thought leadership is more than a buzzword: here’s how companies give shape to it. By Mignon van Halderen and Kym Kettler-Paddock

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rapidly growing number of companies claim to be thought leaders. Over the past six months, thought leadership sections have mushroomed on corporate websites. These sections focus on the knowledge and expertise of the organisation. However, these two factors alone do not turn a company into a thought leader and are only pieces (albeit important) of the puzzle. Thought leader companies are capable of breaking through conventional thought patterns in the market and thereby offering refreshing insights to customers and other relevant stakeholders. Thought leaders are recognised leaders within their own sectors thanks to their novel point of view on issues that really matter to customers. One case in point is IBM, widely considered a thought leader. Through its ‘system perspective’, IBM allows its customers to take a fresh look at the issues they are grappling with (such as energy efficiency, water management, traffic congestion). For

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STRATEGIC THINKER

example, IBM rejects the traditional way of viewing traffic problems in cities. It argues that society must stop focusing exclusively on smaller parts of the bigger problems: building a new bridge, broadening a road, putting up traffic signs, assigning rush-hour lanes. Instead, we need to concentrate on the relationships within the whole system and all related systems: the supply chains, the environment, the private sector: how

Thought leadership is a new way by which companies can stand out from the crowd. people live and work. IBM gives shape to its perspective by offering effective solutions to customers that help them to improve their businesses or lives. As such, IBM is able to position itself as a reliable thought leader and expert that understands the world of its customers. That said, thought leadership is not similar to innovation. Innovation is the process that translates an idea or invention into a product or service that customers are prepared to pay for. Innovation disrupts the status quo in product use, but does not necessarily entail novel thinking that goes beyond the product itself. The truth is that many companies have innovative ideas. That’s what business is about, after all: providing good services and products to meet customers’ needs. However, in an era in which society is facing truly daunting societal, economic and environmental issues, good product ideas are no longer enough to impress customers. They are on the lookout for refreshing viewpoints that break away from old thinking. IBM, for instance, did not just come

up with a good idea on how to reduce energy consumption in homes and offices. Importantly, the company gave us a novel and thought-provoking perspective on the whole subject.

WHY PURSUE THOUGHT LEADERSHIP? Thought leadership is a new way by which companies can stand out from the crowd in a world where consumers are eager to find something that goes beyond just the product or service. Increasingly, customers are in search for novel perspectives and insights into issues that matter to them. Companies like IBM and Philips tap into these needs by providing refreshing viewpoints (related to their expertise) on these complex issues. Likewise, in the face of ever-increasing longevity and soaring healthcare costs, the healthcare sector is always on the lookout for new care solutions. Mindful of the need for new insights and solutions, Philips provides novel perspectives on the issues and offers related expertise. Consumers are also increasingly attracted by brands that challenge the status quo on themes that touch their daily lives. The personal care brand Dove has tapped into women’s sentiments on the unrealistic standards of beauty they are held up to and seeks to overturn society’s narrow definition of beauty. All in all, in an era in which people are keen to hear refreshing viewpoints that overturn conventional ways of thinking and behaviour, thought leadership gives companies a unique opportunity to substantially raise their profiles and remain on the cutting edge of developments in the market and society. The decision to provide thought leadership is a strategic choice, but not one exclusively made by the company’s corporate communication department. It is a positioning strategy that needs to be underpinned by the company’s whole corporate strategy, expertise and capabilities. The following five steps provide guidance for thought leadership strategies. STEP 1: DIAGNOSING THE POTENTIAL FOR THOUGHT LEADERSHIP Before companies consider

adopting a thought leadership strategy, it is important to examine to what extent the company has potential for developing thought leadership. Four questions are of pivotal importance: a) what are the key market or societal trends in the near or longer-term future?; b) do we have an important novel point of view on these trends that has not (yet) been adopted by our competitors; c) does the novel point of view fit in with our identity, knowledge and expertise; and d) can we show real commitment and allocate 04/2012

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TEAM PLAYER

INSTRUMENTS OF PEACE Handling interpersonal conflict at work is never easy, but understanding the factors behind disputes can help managers strive towards resolution. By Andrea Broughton

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onflict in the workplace is one of the most stressful and difficult issues that managers have to face in their working lives. The seemingly easy way out is not to do anything and hope that the situation will resolve itself in time. Usually, however, it doesn’t and is likely to get worse if not dealt with effectively. Interpersonal conflicts between employees can be extremely tricky to deal 04/2012

COMMUNICATION DIRECTOR

with, particularly as they are likely to differ from situation to situation. Effective communication that gets to the heart of the matter is the way to resolve disputes and conflicts. However, in order to communicate effectively, managers need to have some understanding of the behavioural drivers that can lead to an


TEAM PLAYER

interpersonal conflict and the reasons why conflicts can escalate out of control if not defused early enough.

REASONS BEHIND CONFLICT Understanding the reasons why individuals behave as they do can be the key to resolving or preventing conflict. There are a number of psychological theories that can explain individual behaviour, which can also be applied in an employment context and which it is helpful to explore here. For example, under ‘attribution bias’, an individual will attribute an event to the personality or character of the individual who caused the event, rather than neutral, external circumstances. This can lead to an angry response on the part of the

Photo: www.dreamstime.com/RTimages.com

Understanding the reasons why individuals behave as they do can be the key to resolving or preventing conflict. person who feels that they have been disadvantaged by this event. Consider a case where an individual has been made redundant or failed to win promotion: if they blame this on some aspect of their manager’s character or behaviour, believing it to be the manager’s fault, they are more likely to feel angry with that manager than if they accepted that the redundancy or the lack of promotion was due to external circumstances, such as necessary business reorganisation or lack of funds. Similarly, if an employee is in a conflict situation with another employee and believes the cause of the conflict to be the fault of that employee’s personality, rather than external factors that are making them behave in a certain way – such as the fact that the other party is under

stress or is distracted by other problems – they are more likely to be angry with the other party and continue the conflict. There are other behavioural drivers: for example, under loss aversion theory, individuals faced with a sure loss tend to gamble, even though the expected loss from the gamble may be larger. An employee who has long service with an organisation will have a great deal of emotional investment in their work. If they find themselves in a conflict situation that is seemingly unresolvable, such as something that leads to dismissal or severe loss of status, they may feel that they might as well continue with the dispute as they have come so far and they are so committed to the dispute process that there is nothing more to lose. Thus, they may choose to go forwards even if this means that they may lose further in terms of time, stress and possibly even financial loss.

DISCOUNTING AND DEVALUATION There are also a number of factors that can hinder effective communication between the parties to a dispute. For example, under reactive devaluation, individuals will tend to diminish the attractiveness of an offer precisely because it comes from the other side – their perceived opponent. In a work context, this may mean that employees will not accept compromises offered from the other party, because they do not trust their opponent. This will effectively stymie any attempts at dialogue between the parties to a dispute. If this happens, it will of course also have repercussions for the party that offered the compromise in the first place, as they will now feel that their offer, made in good faith, has been rejected, and will be unlikely to repeat it. In this type of situation, help from a neutral, third party such as an external mediator, can be beneficial, as they can vouch for the integrity of both sides. Another potential obstacle to effective communication in disputes is so-called egocentric advice discounting. This is where an individual will give more weight to their own opinion over that of any advisor. Employees might ask for help and advice in a conflict situation but they will often decide that they know better. Nevertheless, research has found that advice is more likely to be acted upon if the advisor is trusted, is perceived to have more experience and education, and if the advice is paid for. There has also been some evidence of employees in conflict situations being encouraged by other people close to them – employees are more likely to make a claim to an employment tribunal if they have sought advice from colleagues, friends and family. 04/2012

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THE STORY OF PR Looking back at landmark communications

PARTNERS AND PIONEERS IN PUBLIC RELATIONS Edward L. Bernays has been called ‘the father of public relations’; however, the vital contribution of his wife, Doris E. Fleischman, should not be overlooked. By Meg Lamme

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eptember 2012 marked the 90th anniversary of the matrimonial and business partnership of Edward L. Bernays and Doris E. Fleischman, two American public relations pioneers of the 20th century whose contributions to the field are still being evaluated by historians. Their marriage began in New York, with Fleischman famously keeping her surname until the 1950s, and it ended with her death in 1980 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Fleischman had already been working for Bernays for three years, but upon their marriage she became a full partner in their firm, Edward L. Bernays, Counsel on Public Relations, which they maintained until moving to Cambridge in the early 1960s. Together, they advocated for the roles of globalisation, research, and communication technology in public relations, and, for Fleischman, women. They were not alone in this, but because Bernays outlived many of his contemporaries he essentially had the last word on US public relations for many years.

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EARLY YEARS Bernays and Fleischman were born in 1891, he in Austria and she in New York, where he and his family moved a year later. Both were born to Jewish families but were not active in their faith as adults. Bernays’ mother was Sigmund Freud’s sister and his paternal aunt was Freud’s wife, connections Bernays was quite proud of. Indeed, alone and in concert with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, he reached out to Freud and his extended family to help them escape from Europe in the 1930s and early 1940s. Bernays’ father Ely was a grain exporter and insisted that his son major in agriculture at Cornell University, 04/2012

COMMUNICATION DIRECTOR

where Bernays graduated in 1912. Samuel Fleischman, a lawyer, sent his daughter to Columbia University’s then sister school, Barnard College, where she graduated in 1913 from its broad liberal arts programme, having also excelled in tennis and baseball. That year Bernays began working as a theatrical agent on Broadway. From there, he joined the World War I


THE STORY OF PR

goal was to apply wartime mass persuasion techniques to private enterprise; later, though, they would refine their focus as they developed the function of the ‘public relations counsel’, a term that, according to Bernays, he and Fleischman coined in 1920.

At first, Bernays’ goal was to apply wartime mass persuasion techniques to private enterprise. Committee on Public Information, journalist George Creel’s initiative under the Woodrow Wilson administration to promote American values abroad and at home. Meanwhile, Fleischman had joined the woman’s page of the New York Tribune, and then began working for Bernays when he opened his own firm in 1919. At first, Bernays’

A WOMAN’S WORK In a combined career and marriage that spanned almost 60 years, theirs is a difficult story to unpack. Bernays’ notes, for example, can be found on Fleischman’s drafts in the Edward L. Bernays Papers, Library of Congress, and in the Doris F. Bernays Papers, a much smaller collection, in The Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University. Additionally, although Bernays and others credited Fleischman with having a finely tuned sensibility about client relationships, she did not attend client meetings. In his book Biography of an Idea: The Memoirs of Edward L. Bernays, Counsel on Public Relations (1965), Bernays explained this was because she believed clients would disregard her ideas as a woman. Fleischman did work, however, with a number of the firm’s nonprofit clients, possibly because many of them were women. Nevertheless, especially in the first decade or so of their marriage, she wrote of the great potential a public relations career held for women. In her book A Wife is Many Woman (1955), Fleischman confessed that she was not as consumed by public relations as Bernays was. Her published work confirmed this, revealing her advocacy for women in careers. In a 2001 article in American Journalism, I examined Fleischman’s nonfiction work, including her stories at the Tribune, which included the National Woman’s Party, the challenges facing married working women, and vacation options for single working women. In a 1920 New York Times story, Fleischman wrote of women’s struggles in adjusting to their postwar lives, having “unlearned their own diminutiveness” during their war work experiences. In her chapter for Bernays’ 1927 book on careers, An Outline of Careers, Fleischman called for women to avoid jobs and instead to pursue careers that would match their strengths. She also advised them to work harder than their male counterparts to overcome negative perceptions about working women. Indeed, in her companion work, Outline of Careers for Women (1928), many notable women of the time, such as cosmetics magnate Helena Rubenstein and New York’s then first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, described their experiences in professions that ranged from business and social work 04/2012

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THE BIG INTERVIEW Key communicators under the spotlight

HAROLD BURSON 44

Co-founder, Burson-Marsteller Interview: Marie-Luise Klose

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THE BIG INTERVIEW

Photo: Allan Shoemake

What was the idea behind founding Burson-Marsteller in 1953? After I graduated from college, I went to work for a large engineering firm, where I did publicity for the company. Then, after leaving the army, I got the idea that I wanted to start a public relations firm and have the engineering company as my first client. And that is what I did, in August 1946. In February 1952, I received a telephone call from a man at the New York Times, said that he’d run into someone who owned an advertising agency in Pittsburgh who was looking for a public relations firm to do work for one of his clients. And that person was William Marsteller. I had five people working for me at that time. My problem was we were good at what we did but we didn’t get very many chances because we were not very well connected. Marsteller was much better connected than I was at that time, so we decided to form a new public relations firm. Do you recognise public relations today from what it was 60 years ago? I think the function is essentially the same. You would use the same definition back then as you would use now. Although it was not offered as a commercial service until 1900, people were practicing public relations from the time they first started communicating. I equate public relations with persuasion. It is one party trying to get another party to do something, to motivate them to one specific action or adapt one specific attitude or opinion, and that’s a process which has being going on from the time people first started using language. Rome didn’t have those wide boulevards because they had traffic jams, they wanted to show the rest of the empire the gran-

deur of Rome, and as legions marched down them, they wanted to show the power of Rome. To me, that’s public relations. Moses didn’t write the ten commandments on the back of an envelope, he carved them into stone. Martin Luther didn’t put his 99 theses on the bulletin board, he nailed them to the cathedral door. And what has changed since 1953? What has happened is a greater recognition and appreciation of the methodology that can be employed to carry through this action of persuasion, whether it’s to buy a product, or vote for a candidate or an issue, or select Greece instead of Turkey for your vacation. I think there is much more of a welcome for what we do from the people who employ us than there was back then. Back then, we regarded chief executives who supported us as really far-sighted, visionary people, but today most chief executives appreciate their public persona and the persona of their company as a major factor in influencing individuals, whether stockholders or customers or suppliers. Another big difference is that it is a lot easier to deliver messages today, which is both beneficial but also presents a problem, because it means that there are so many messages and so it is more difficult to differentiate and break through. So would you say that the development of media also changed the development of public relations for the better? The betterment was not necessarily in a new attitude towards whoever used public relations, because the new media can be either good or bad. But what new media did, and especially digital, was they created new opportunities, especially for us because our clients needed more profes-

I equate public relations with persuasion. It is one party trying to get another party to do something, to motivate them to one specific action. sional help in navigating their way through this new labyrinth. It is still a work in progress. We really don’t know in the long term whether social media is going to be a positive or negative. Just like with newspapers – the tabloids are regarded as sensational, and you can’t believe what you read. Some social media are the same way, and then some of them are going to break through and be record-type news outlets. But that’s going to take some time to work out. And a lot of issues aren’t really resolved yet – there’s 04/2012

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STORY TELLER Looking at the important questions of communication

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STORY TELLER

A COG IN THE MACHINE How communication keeps organisations in motion

“Part of the process” by Dafydd Phillips page 50 – 54

“Enabling strategy” by Carsten Tilger page 56 – 59

“Innovation networks” by Rick Aalbers, Wilfred Dolfsma and Otto Koppius page 60 – 63

“Playing by the rules” by Hester de Voogd page 64 – 65

“Your function is not needed: reboot” by Leandro Herrero page 66 – 69

“Creating a powerful combination” by Anders M. Rendtorff and Morten H. Holmgård page 70 – 73

“Social communication: a lesson from nature” by Volker Witte page 74 – 77

“When everything flows” by Jesper Falkheimer page 78 – 81

“Joining up the pillars” by Christopher Storck page 82 – 85

“View with 2020 vision” by Paula O’Connell and Anita van de Velde

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page 86 – 89

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Communication Director 04/2012  

Taken from the latest issue of Communication Director, the quartely magazine about European corproate communications and PR.

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