Page 1

Issue 1 London edition

All About Brands

magazine Working with Creatives page 08 Brand Revival page 11 Company Reports: The Next Generation page 14

Anthony Good Bridging Britain and India


Chairman’s letter Introducing All About Brands magazine / 01

Brands The ins and outs of brand revival / 11

Cover story

Guru Working with creatives / 13

The Good Advisor Online Advertising’s digital coming of age / 05

Workforce It’s about attitude. not age / 21 Lazy lexicon “Leader” and “Exclusive” / 23

Director Inmarsat’s dynamic Chris McLaughlin / 07 Digital Company reports: the next generation / 10

London edition

All About Brands



chairman’s letter

branding the vision

Dear Readers Welcome to the first edition of All About Brands magazine. Over the coming months and years, we hope that this publication will stimulate debate and become a vehicle for sharing best practice across the fields of marketing and communications.

ll About Brands is a group of international companies collectively dedicated to building business value for clients through the effective development and management of their brands. We believe that in today’s fast-moving environment, organisations must continually evolve to stay ahead of the game and that brands drive commercial performance better than any other corporate asset. We therefore seek to bring an innovative approach to value creation in all aspects of a brand’s life and whenever it impacts business or people performance. All About Brands is also a holding company that acts as an incubator for creative entrepreneurs. We provide funding, management support and expertise to allow the next generation of creatives and marketeers to establish tomorrow’s leading agencies. In a whirlwind four years, we have established, backed and developed some of Abu Dhabi’s most successful agencies.

“This publication is not really about selling All About Brands and its fabulous group of companies, but it would be remiss of me not to direct you to our group website,”

We have undergone a steep learning curve on how to do business successfully in Abu Dhabi. In this and future issues, we hope to share some of our insights into the business culture, the bureaucracy and the key learnings and experience we have acquired. This publication is not really about selling All About Brands and its fabulous group of companies, but it would be remiss of me not to direct you to our group website, www.aabplc. com, where you can see for yourself the talent we have on offer to assist you with making your brands and your businesses more successful. I hope you enjoy the first issue of the magazine. If you would like to contribute an article or opinion for a future edition, please contact us at Alan Biggar Chairman

An Interview with

Anthony Good The Good Advisor by Andrew Wigley





the good advisor

the good advisor

At an early stage, Good advised Grindlays to spread its risk by offering other travel destinations apart from India. He was rather pompously rebuffed: “Leave us to

operation, and I’ve given my view that within ten years

Kings’ first holiday programme in India, the country went

the Indian operation is likely to be bigger than the entire

to war with Pakistan.

UK business. Again it’s about the enormous affluent middle-class there, which wants to travel the world and purchase the leading brands of the world”. Good remains in touch with his commercial career;

and since has not just overseen, but shaped, its

on the topic of public relations and the outlook for the

transformation into one of the travel industry’s most

industry’s future.

respected brands. “We are the longest-established travel company in the

“I think PR will go on being increasingly specialised. Clients want specialist PR support, and also to provide

world. Last year we were voted the most trusted brand in

advice at board level in companies whose own

India, ahead of Nokia (number 2) and Sony (number 3)”,

corporate communications operation is not represented

he beams with enormous pride.

at that level.

The Cox & Kings purchase was part of a deal with

“It’s important to have PR representation at the board

then-Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to develop

level. In the past, companies have listened more to their

tourism in the country, and so the modern history of the

lawyers than to their PR people”, he adds.

company began. While it operates in over 20 countries

He cites a litany of commercial disasters where PR

today, India remains its headquarters and it was there

advice has been secondary to legal advice. BP’s Gulf oil

that Good navigated his second highly successful

spill is the most recent example.

company which, among other things, then owned luxury

floatation, taking Cox & Kings to a listing on the Mumbai

Charming, understated and unfailingly courteous, he is

car manufacturer Jensen. When Norcros hit financial

Stock Exchange in December 2009.

the embodiment of best of British. “I am delighted to be

problems and were forced to sell Jensen, Good was

able to talk to you”, he begins our meeting and you’re

charged with finding a purchaser. “I was almost literally knocking on bank doors. The

“The profitability of [Marks & Spencer’s] Indian

1826”. He recounts how the week they launched Cox &

Good became chairman of Cox & Kings in 1975,

left with the sense that he really means it, imparting a

formal and informal capacities to a number of boards. operation in percentage terms is way ahead of the UK

a point’!” he says.

ony Good is the quintessential Englishman.

future trends; insights which he continues to share in both

deal with the political risks. We have been in India since

“The bank was kind enough to say, ‘Perhaps you had



He explains that Mumbai was a preferred option

Though he’s made his mark giving advice, Good has been on the receiving end as well. He attributes the best advice he’s ever been given to

not only because it afforded a higher price earnings

the late Sir Maxwell Joseph, then-chairman of Grand

ratio over other potential locations, but that it was a

Metropolitan (which went on to become Diageo), and

curious feel-good glow that typically only follows an

bank that opened its doors was Grindlays Bank. It was

reflection of the size and standing of the Cox & Kings

whom Good says was instrumental in persuading him to

introduction to a star or royalty.

a UK-based bank, and the largest foreign bank in India.

Indian business.

float Good Relations.

In the rarefied world of public relations, that’s

Grindlays not only bought my client, but put me on the

“There were around 4,000 outbound passengers

“In life, do what you enjoy most because that is what

exactly what Good is: He has royal status in the

board to represent their interests. They subsequently

from India in 1999. By 2009, that number had jumped

you will do best, and don’t worry about the money,

communications industry, still revered as the founder

brought me on the board of a subsidiary, Grindlays

to 400,000 passengers – a statistic that reflects the

because it will take care of itself”.

of Good Relations in the 1960s and which went on

Commercial Holdings”.

dramatic growth of the affluent Indian middle classes

to become the first PR business to be floated on the

This is a frequent refrain in Good’s story – his role not

London Stock Exchange in the 1980s. In the process,

only as a public relations expert, but as a trusted advisor

he was recognised as having raised the standards

to boards and their directors.

of professionalism in PR, and made a significant

In his career, Good advised travel businesses including

and their appetite for travel”, he concludes.

That has clearly served Good, the great advisor, extremely well.

Good’s affection for India remains unflinching; he has just completed his 362nd visit to the country. Few non-Indians have the same commercial insight and

contribution in elevating the standing of the industry as

Silver City Airways and Sir Freddie Laker, but it’s as the

experience in India as Good. He sits on the board of

Andrew Wigley is chief operating officer of AAB Plc.

a must-have professional service akin to accounting

chairman of upmarket tour operator Cox & Kings that he

the UK-India Business Council and has imparted advice

He can be reached at

and law.

cemented his relationship to the industry.

to numerous trade ministers and prospective investors

He continues to serve in an advisory capacity to a

Good began his association with the company

looking at the Indian market.

number of marketing and communications businesses

in 1971, when he was appointed to the board by

providing meticulous and well-conceived advice.

Grindlays, which had purchased the business. Good

Good continuously peppers conversation with facts

was tasked with repositioning the company from an

and figures, demonstrating a remarkable recall for

almost moribund shipping and forwarding agency into

been involved in taking several of my clients there”, he

information relating to a wide range of business sectors

a long-haul tour operator specializing in India. He says

said. “I took Marks & Spencer’s chairman, Sir Richard

which he has dealt with in his consultancy career.

only half in jest that Grindlays thought it was buying an

Greenbury, to India in 1993 to show him what was

established tour operator.

going on. That resulted in a joint venture with Reliance

While PR is part of the story, travel and his contribution to that industry play an equally significant

“In fact, it was an army agent, responsible for sending

part – and is clearly one of Good’s enduring passions.

servicemen to outposts of the Empire, particularly India,

He explains that the story began when Good Relations

paying and banking them and moving their families and

was brought in to advise the Norcros Group, a holding

effects around the world”, he says.

It clearly gives him great satisfaction to see the Indian tiger being unleashed. “People used to yawn when I talked about India. I’ve

to establish the retailer there. That gives me a lot of satisfaction”. Good is a man of the times with a prescient vision of




branding the vision

Advertising’s digital coming of age T By Graham Anderson

he economic environment has penalised the marketing services sector, knocking advertising particularly hard. But online marketing is bucking the trend and quite significantly. Spending on internet advertising in the UK topped GBP 35 billion in 2009, and for the first time outstripped television adspend. It was a first not only in the UK but internationally. And this capped an extraordinary decade when in 2000, internet adspend topped GBP 153 million. In other words, online advertising grew by 2,200%. What does this mean for businesses? Well, the simple truth is your money goes a lot further, and you’re able to target audiences more precisely through online advertising than other more traditional means of advertising. It’s certainly no coincidence that we’re seeing a significant uptake in online campaigns for our clients, especially in a straitened economic times when digital campaigns can provide better return on investment. If nothing else, this recession, like others before, is helping to sort the chaff from the grain. The demise of established, but struggling, brands is one impact. Another is the unleashing of technology. This is the first recession of the digital age and the solid increase in internet adspend tells us that some quarters of the media arena are holding up. This has not been a transition that traditional marketing agencies and media players have managed well, let alone businesses and clients who turn to agencies to help navigate them through the marketing landscape.

Those who were slow to understand and respond to the changing technologies and consumer habits are being punished severely. Take Britain’s ITV, for example: ITV is a truly great brand, and it made a play in the new digital world by buying Friends Reunited, but it failed to have a compelling vision for the social networking site and sold it on in 2009 after just four years, losing a cool GBP 100 million in the process. Adam Crozier faces an enormous challenge in trying to turn around the fortunes of ITV as it prepares for the fight of its life. While his tenure at the Royal Mail was controversial, if anyone can do it, he may be the man. He no doubt has a pretty strong understanding of the media landscape having started his rapid rise at Saatchis before dealing with the prickly issue of broadcasting rights at the Football Association. Internet adspend is only set to increase. Those who have been skittish about apportioning their advertising budgets will now become much bolder in chosing the web over other channels. This will put into long-term jeopardy traditional marketing agencies and media providers, like ITV. The internet has truly come of age.

Graham Anderson is a director of All About Brands. He can be reached at




Inmarsat’s Dynamic Chris McLaughlin

By Andrew Wigley


“Perhaps in the past I’ve argued my case too forcibly without having all the information. I now try to assemble all the information before reaching a position”. Chris McLaughlin


ouncing about on his chair, Chris McLaughlin has the energy of a spirited teenager; cheerful, outgoing, competitive in a friendly way, and with complete confidence in himself, McLaughlin is a Tigger-like personality, reminiscent of the springy tiger in A.A. Milne’s popular Winnie the Pooh stories. McLaughlin, vice president of external affairs for British satellite communications company Inmarsat, possesses infectious enthusiasm - one of the characteristics that have helped him make a name for himself as one of his generation’s most talented communication professionals. With an illustrious in-house and agency career behind him, he has hopped between some of the world’s largest brands – largely in the broadcasting and technology sectors - and dealt with some of the thorniest issues a communications professional would ever wish to address. Still, he brims with excitement at Inmarsat’s latest ventures. Inmarsat offers global, mobile telephony services, and its network provides communications services to a range of governments, aid agencies and media outlets. McLaughlin has had a busy six months, with the recent announcement that Boeing has been contracted to build a new constellation of ‘Inmarsat-5s’ satellites. Boeing will also become a distribution partner, providing extensive relationships with the U.S. defence department, a significant user of satellite technology. “With the capacity to deliver mobile broadband speeds of up to 50 megabits per second, the Inmarsat-5s will form the backbone of our planned Global Xpress network - a good name, as I chose it”, he chuckles before explaining how thwart with difficulties the naming process can be. Inmarsat looms large in his life and he beams with satisfaction at his accomplishments during his six years with the company – the longest stint with any firm since starting out in communications 25 years ago. “The best way to explain Inmarsat is that it is a continuously changing beast. It’s gone from an 88-country member organisation with a UN charter to a full-fledged FTSE 100 company”, says McLaughlin. Such profound change is a recurring theme in McLaughlin’s career. Intellectual stimulation and challenge is a prerequisite: career lows are provocatively summed up as roles in organisations where there has been too much “HR and parquet flooring”. By his own admission, he prefers small, nimble organisations which are “innovative and dynamic, and where you take responsibility for what you do”.

McLaughlin’s satellite career predates Inmarsat. After starting in Grayling and then Charles Barker, he moved to his first in-house role as head of PR at British Satellite Broadcasting in 1987. The experience was “fantastic and brutal”, he recalls, explaining that he decided against hanging around after the company was acquired by Rupert Murdoch’s Sky and moved on to Carlton Television, the then-new ITV franchise broadcaster for London. He was charged with planning and executing the launch of Carlton TV, which began broadcasting in January 1993. After more broadcasting experience at the BBC, McLaughlin surprised the PR world by moving to Lausanne in 1997 to take up a public affairs role at Philip Morris International. ‘McLaughlin leaves in a puff of smoke’, PR Week reported at the time. McLaughlin explains: “I was brought in to explain how smokers were perceived by the outside world. I was rapidly named the resident ‘anti’. But it was one of those rare occasions where I was responsible for a 33-country piece of attitudinal research into smoking, youth smoking and issues of freedom and choice. That gave me great insight into the use of research in corporate affairs, something we don’t use nearly enough because we never have enough money in corporate affairs to do these things. And it provided great insight into what was happening and how that would affect Philip Morris”. He was part of the team that was subsequently credited with shifting internal thinking, encouraging the manufacturer of Marlboro to acknowledge the link between smoking and addiction for the first time, thereby breaking ranks with the tobacco industry. It led to a profound shift. He briefly moved to Visa International, then returned to broadcasting with Cable Partners before joining Inmarsat. With disarming honesty, McLaughlin admits “I am a polarising figure. People either love me or hate me. Perhaps in the past I’ve argued my case too forcibly without having all the information. I now try to assemble all the information before reaching a position. That’s my biggest learning in life”. With the mix of charm and candour which has come to characterise his professional style, he concedes “I haven’t mellowed, but I have become a bit more thoughtful”. With that. McLaughlin breezes to his next meeting.

Andrew Wigley is chief operating officer of All About Brands. He can be reached at




– Being Wise After the Event

by Andrew Mackay

Even after one of the worst eco-disasters in history fades from the public consciousness, the abiding memory will be of how BP got the Gulf oil spill so extraordinarily wrong. From its communications and deployment of senior management to handle the crisis, to how people in power so comprehensively wrong-footed the company, to its misreading of the media’s tendency to side with the ‘little people’ (that was how BP’s chairman referred to the people affected by the disaster), BP made one egregious error after another.


he corporate world spends millions of dollars each year on crisis preparedness, disaster management and media training so executives are prepared for what to say and how to react when it hits the fan. Any amount of planning can be unraveled in seconds by an aside to a camera or, worse, an insensitive gaffe which, in former BP CEO Tony Hayward’s case, will surely pass into business folklore as a byword for How Not To Do It. Where were his PR consultants; what were they telling him? The damage done by Hayward’s “I want my life back” remark was compounded when, in an even more crass move seemingly designed to confirm the worst prejudices of the media, he was filmed enjoying himself on a luxury yacht off the Isle of Wight. These were nails in his coffin. Poor Tony Hayward. Here was the living proof that, while board chairmen and CEOs can lead their companies successfully in peacetime, they do not always make the best leaders in a crisis. Contrast the demeanour of Toyota’s chairman, tearful and bowing at a news conference to announce the car giant’s latest recall, with Tony Hayward’s, while his Rome metaphorically burned in the background. He looked uncomfortable during media interviews, gave a less-than-convincing performance during Congressional hearings and simply looked out of place on the Gulf of Mexico shoreline. But can any major company ‘win’ in a crisis? Even if BP’s board had acted quickly to replace Hayward as its crisis front man, would he have then faced accusations of hiding and abdicating his responsibility? It is easy for pundits to be wise after the event, but BP’s crisis showed that, very often, simple expressions of regret or remorse can mitigate the reputational and brand damage inflicted by some unfriendly, short-term headlines, and help neutralise the people power that seemed to have been so effectively mobilized in this case.

Who can forget those powerful images of crosses in a ‘cemetery’ symbolizing the loss of jobs and livelihoods by the people of Louisiana? British politicians have advanced the argument – with some success – that the loss of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan is a painful sacrifice, but a price ultimately worth paying in the larger cause of fighting terrorism. Why should peddling that line be any less palatable than saying that deep-sea oil drilling is inherently risky and that loss of life is inevitable - as long as people want to fill their cars with petrol? It may not have diminished the pain of the grieving families, but served to put the whole episode into the wider context. Where was the robust defence of BP’s deep-sea drilling strategy as being of vital importance to global energy demand? But even when the aftermath of one of the worst eco-disasters in history fades from public consciousness, the abiding memory will be of how BP got this so extraordinarily wrong: from its communications and deployment of senior management to handle the crisis, to how people power so comprehensively wrong-footed the company, to its misreading of the media’s tendency to side with the ‘little people’ (that was how BP’s chairman referred to the people affected by the disaster). What comes next? Even as its share price rebounds and reports suggest that the environmental damage in the Gulf of Mexico is not as bad as initially feared, we can certainly expect some rebranding and softer messaging by the company to distance itself, physically and emotionally, from the disaster. But, like its impact on the Gulf of Mexico, BP’s handling of the crisis will live on in the management textbooks as another unwanted legacy of one of the worst periods in the company’s 80-year history. Andrew Mackay is director of All About Brands. He can be reached at


Company Reports: The Next Generation


ntil 2008, British law required each company listed on a stock exchange to send a printed copy of its annual report to every shareholder. This was a hugely wasteful exercise that was neither practical nor sustainable, and it tended to aggravate environmentally-conscious businesses and shareholders alike. Luckily, this is not the case now. Britain’s Department of Business, Innovation & Skills estimates that more than GBP 47million in costs have been saved as a result. One consequence of this move is that a lot of companies have realised that providing their report online has obvious benefits. Those benefits are numerous: • It assists their overall Search Engine

By Hayden Sutherland

Optimisation effort; • It facilitates viewing and downloading only part of the report (useful if the user is on a low-band width connection or only wants to print one particular section); and • It contributes to a more environmentally friendly company profile. A recent survey found that 48.7% of those questioned had a full HTML version of their site. Why? HTML is the only way to make full use of the Internet’s potential, and use of HTML has gradually increased, compared with PDFs or images (usually in JPG format). And surprisingly, British companies that have led the way in this regard: 64% of the FTSE100 companies use HTML. It is also interesting to note that in research into Corporate Social Responsibility conducted earlier this year, it was found that only 9% of the companies surveyed (mainly companies in the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250) used just HTML for their reports, while 47% used HTML and PDF combined. Even U.S. regulations now encourage company

Research shows that only 9% of FTSE 100 and 250 companies surveyed used just HTML for annual reports, while 47% used HTML and PDF combined.

reporting in formats such as HTML, rather than just providing PDFs of the report pages. However using HTML is just the start of what can be achieved with your online company report. Animations and even audio and video add interactivity and help to communicate company information to shareholders, employees, journalists and others. It should be noted though that, in order to remain accessible to as many users as possible, all sound media must be accompanied by a transcript. So what’s the future for company reports? The answer depends upon whom you ask. Those who have a CEO & board (and who are professionally media-trained) would say that you should pack your online report with as much relevant video as possible. This helps to foster greater transparency and board accountability. Those who are standards-based would say that you should make a lot of use of XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) or at least have sensible tagging of relevant content. Those who are more opportunistic or are on a limited budget will wait and see what works or is required by law. For investors and analysts, the publication of the annual report is not the event it once was, since by the time it is published shareholders have often already received far more in-depth information from other sources throughout the annual business cycle. Yet the annual report remains a significant element in the communications armoury of a business, and its ongoing engagement with stakeholders and the innovation in online reporting is helping businesses to ensure their messages are heard more than ever before. Hayden Sutherland is managing director of Ideal Interface. He can be reached at





iving in an environment where the pace of change is so

The decision to offload a brand onto someone else can often

fast and the emergence of new brands and new technologies so

come down simply to profit and size. What’s not a viable

constant means that we are increasingly seeking out those things

proposition for a larger company can be quite the opposite for a

that have some sort of genuine meaning to us or have marked our

small company. Indeed, when evaluating the merits of retaining

lives in some way.

Angel Delight, Kraft determined it to be not worthwhile – however

Against this backdrop, brands of a time past and those that

its sizeable profits and nostalgic quotient made it an appealing

we thought were on the decline, or even dead and buried, are

purchase for its buyer, Premier Ambient. Revival may also be

enjoying the fruits of revival. Yet it takes skill to identify those

propelled by the simple power of protest. Cadbury Wispa and

worth bringing back to life, and even greater skill to do

BBC Radio 6 demonstrated beautifully that mobilising popular

so successfully.

public opinion and taking a grassroots approach to saving a

Indeed, while our growing appetite for nostalgia has been key

brand is not to be underestimated. That said, the same efforts

to fuelling this movement, there are two real markers of successful

were attempted with the Asian Network and ultimately failed. This

reinvention. The first is the level of latent equity in a brand: does it

underscores that that successful revival is ultimately about the

still have a meaningful and useful proposition to make?

commercial imperative – if the audience is falling, if it’s not a viable

Does it have or could it develop a strong customer base?

proposition for its owner, or the investment can’t be justified on the

Does it fulfil a genuine need in today’s world? The second is

P&L, a brand is not going to represent a great target for revival, no

the leveraging of that equity in the right way, staying true to its

matter how much it reminds us of good times past. We can conclude then that the future of an ‘old’ brand can

heritage but making it relevant to people’s lives today. Tapping into an insight about what made a brand special or

generally be determined by four key elements: the product has to

loved in the first place is critical to a successful revival – you

be right; some equity must remain; one shouldn’t stray too far from

may establish that a brand has relatively strong latent equity but

what made the brand great initially; and it must be contemporised

unless you exploit or capitalise on it in the right way, it stands little

in the right way. A final reminder of the interplay of these principles can be seen

chance in such a competitive market. The jury is still out, but arguably MG’s recent foray into town

The ins and outs of brand revival. Tapping into an insight about what made a brand special or loved in the first place is critical to a successful revival – you may establish that a brand has relatively strong latent equity but unless you exploit or capitalise on it in the right way, it stands little chance in such a competitive market.

in the example of Woolworths. Having hit the wall two years ago,

cars has seen it move away from what people loved about the

Woolies recognised that retail had all but gone online, but that it still

brand in the first place – a serious, sporty road car – to something

had a useful proposition to make, albeit to a more defined market

that now looks urban and metro.

– so it became more targeted on younger families, re-formed as an

“The product has to be right; some equity must remain; one shouldn’t stray too far from what made the brand great initially; and it must be contemporised” MG’s senior management noted that the union with Rover meant

online business, focused its offer on the core areas of need for their

that while there is a shareholder imperative to achieve volume,

audience, established the right price point, and hauled itself into the

care needs to be taken to ensure that the heart of the brand is not

21st century. Digital, fresher, brighter, better.


A revival success story? We hope.

By contrast, Mini, and to an extent the Volkswagen Beetle, serve

by Amy Frengley


as examples of perfectly executed brand revival. Both correctly identified what was great about the brand in its original form: zippy, small, easily manoeuvrable, a great town car. Then they showed that these attributes were equally relevant today, if not more so, by delivering a style makeover and increasing internal space to create a model bang up to date for contemporary urban life. It’s worth remembering that one business’ albatross may be another’s golden goose.

Amy Frengley is brand strategy director at All About Brands. She can be contacted at





Working with creatives

Great creatives aren’t just good at coming up with brilliant ideas. They’re good at explaining them, debating them, and also seeing other peoples’ points of view


ure, they’ll listen to you, but you can tell that they secretly think you’re an idiot. If you insist on them doing things your way, they get upset and pout to the point that you want to throw them out of the window. Creative people are also experts in the art of time wasting. They are curious by nature and are easily distracted from the task in hand. In my experience this is something you have to live with. Trying to manage creatives like you manage other members of your team will just not work. Over the years, I’ve worked with a whole range of talented creative people and I’ve learned how to work with them rather than against them. If you get it right it can actually be an enjoyable experience.

We have all had to deal with them – they’re the art directors, designers, writers and marketing consultants who have their own ideas about how everything should be done. Think child genius with a petulant streak, and you’re not far off the mark. They call themselves Creatives, and you have the job of bringing the best out of them.

by Mark Rollinson

1 Work with the cleverest people. If you’re putting together a team, don’t be afraid to be the dumbest person in the room. I have regularly been the dumbest person in the room and actually felt completely undaunted. Great creatives aren’t just good at coming up with brilliant ideas. They’re good at explaining them, debating them, and also seeing other people’s points of view. The creatives who give you the most headaches tend to be the ones with limited talent who can’t string a sentence together to back up their thinking. They tend to sulk at the slightest challenge to their creative genius. My advice: Shoot them! There is also another advantage to being the dumbest person in the room: I usually find that smart people don’t have as much common sense as I do. They come up with great ideas and can debate the brilliance of their ideas for hours, but at some stage you are going to need to create a practical plan. Suddenly, you will find all eyes turning to you for direction. The trick is to let them exhaust themselves of ideas and burn themselves out in debate. This is the stage when they become compliant and obedient, and you can easily bend them to your will.

2 No such thing as a bad idea. Rule Number One of brainstorming is, “there is no such thing as a bad idea”. No notion should be too far out, and no idea too crazy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve participated in brainstorming sessions where someone blurted out a crazy idea, and someone else followed the thread until it led to the idea we all decided to implement. Occasionally getting the dumb ideas out of the way serves to clear our minds so that a really great idea can come bursting forth. And sometimes one stupid notion becomes the inspiration for an innovative, groundbreaking plan. This kind of thinking can only happen in an environment where all ideas are welcome. Bear in mind that ideas are fragile at birth, so let them breathe a while and avoid shooting them down when they are first born, no matter how outrageous they sound.

Work as a team, not individuals. If you’ve handled the brainstorming right, you end up with a long list of concepts to explore. Some are hopeless, but others may be diamonds in the rough. It may be tempting to decide on your own which concepts to develop. Don’t do it. The trick is to let the whole group decide what’s useable and what’s not. It will take a bit more time and there may even be some heated arguments, but commit to coming to a consensus and you will be better off. Your end product will be stronger because of the range of ideas you’ve brought together, and most importantly your creative teams’ egos will still be intact. They’ll feel valued and respected. 3

4 Look for the positives. This is sometimes harder than it sounds. You’re looking at the creative output that the team has placed in front of you. Allegedly it’s based on the brainstorm you were part of. Try as you might, you don’t recognize it. At this point it is quite easy to lose your temper and throw your toys out of the pram. Don’t do it. Search for something positive you can say at first, even if it’s the colour, the typeface chosen or even the paper. You need just one small positive comment and then you can really lay into the rest of the concept. This small crumb of comfort is key to preventing your creative team from either punching you or bursting into tears. It’s sometimes useful to repeat the positive at the end of the meeting, “I love the paper you used to draw that on”. 5 Stroke them. It’s important for creative types to feel wanted and valued. You will find you have to praise them more than you scold them. Creatives don’t really like being told off. They like a nice secure, stable environment. The only chaos they like is in their own heads. Make sure they feel valued and make sure no matter how small a role they may play, they feel like they have contributed and that their contribution is valued. Follow these rules and you may find that mad world of the creative helps you and your business thrive.

Mark Rollinson is board member of All About Brands. He can be reached at


crisis sense

crisis sense

Six ways to combat rumors

Five golden rules on how to communicate in a crisis


s a communications specialist, I have had a career of stepping in to help clients in crisis. That experience spans a spectrum of sectors and issues and includes working with corporates which include equitable life, dow, altria and unilever. So here are my five golden rules on how to get a grip on a crisis and how you communicate. 1

Acknowledge the problem and take ownership.

In the first few hours after a crisis, a huge amount of misinformation can appear. A friend of mine in one of the world’s leading mining companies tells me that in the event of an incident at one of their operations, the company has a policy of issuing a statement within the first two hours. That was the view internally of how quickly news could carry – especially in high risk industries such as extractives. So the rule here is to communicate early and often. Equally, it is important that you are sure of your facts before you do begin communicating. For example, it’s better to acknowledge that you don’t have all the facts than to try and adopt a message which is unfounded. 2

Be sincere and demonstrate understanding.

If your industry is affected by a crisis – whether or not it’s your company’s fault – you need to acknowledge the impact at a human level and express empathy quickly. I have seen many big corporates resistant to communicating at an early stage of an incident or crisis in fear that it implies culpability or liability on their part. To not express sympathy, opens you and your business to accusations of being uncaring or unconcerned and silence is often read as guilt. But your first and overriding message must be to share your thoughts with those impacted by the incident (internal or external stakeholders) and you will lend every effort to the authorities in addressing the problem. If the fault clearly lies at your hands, acknowledge and accept that as soon as is possible.

By Roman Diukarev

By Allan Biggar

Some of the UK’s biggest and bestknown businesses have faced crises and major reputational issues this year, including BP, British Airways and British Telecom. Reflecting on a career of helping clients to communicate in crises, Allan Biggar, chairman of All About Brands, shares his five golden rules on what to do in a crisis.


be transparent and accessible.

Honesty pays, even if you don’t have all the best-in-class systems in place. Being transparent demonstrates confidence in you, your leadership team, your product and your manufacturing and distribution methods. Following a crisis, the spotlight will fall on the way you operate and it is better that your business is allowed to be scrutinised than for the media or other interest groups to tell the story for you. You can control how that probing might be conducted, but make yourself open and accessible. It is critical to the process of rebuilding your reputation.


exist bothersome, but harmless, gossip tales,

rumor has the potential to spread.

little white lies ferried forth by clothesline

If it is localized and has been contained,

conversation, and the whopper of a fib that can

don’t cast your response to the entire

land a genuine crisis on a company’s doorstep.

country. By definition, a rumor can be a

ithin the universe of rumors, there

How is a company to deal with them? Common sense is a good start.

even blacker PR, competitors often crank up rumors to gain a competitive advantage. Most stay in the brackish backwater of localism, never

show Leadership in communications.

You need to appoint someone to serve as the public face of the company in the crisis, who is equipped to deal with the challenges that might involve. If you don’t provide a public face early on, the media and other stakeholders will decide on one for you – and who may not be the best placed person to help you. Ideally the public face will either be your most senior manager or someone from the leadership team. She or he will need to accept the role of taking the flak and be prepared to face the ire of stakeholders – which may not be a comfortable role. 5

Prepare, prepare, prepare.

It is no good having a public face of the company, if that individual is untrained for the role. Equally your communications team need to be prepared. If there is one thing that can be guaranteed, your business will face an issue or crisis at some point – and the only way to know how to deal with it, is to prepare and train in advance. That way, you’ll see where your team can deal with an issue, and where they can’t; where communications worked, and where it didn’t; who performed well and who didn’t (and there’ll be some people on your team who simply don’t have the strengths to deal with crisis situations). Those are all lessons you want to learn before a crisis and not during one. Allan Biggar is chairman of All About Brands in London. He can be reached at

loss of money, jobs, reputations and more.

source the rumor, and then to isolate it.

commercial gossip mongers: 1

Inoculate your company by having sound media monitoring in place.

Media monitoring serves as a second line of defense to squelch rumors early. The first line of defense? The company employees who can serve as rumor scouts. 2

Stay ahead of rumors by acting on them early.

If there is a need to respond, make sure it is a measured response.

Don’t kill an ant with a sledgehammer. However, if it is a monster rumor with the danger of spreading and causing a business catastrophe, haul out the communications’ equivalent of a nuclear weapon.

We have our own formula for staying one step ahead of the

Information is vital. Determine if the

falsehood, a half-truth or reality. Attempt to


In emerging markets due to the black art of

gaining steam. However, others can lead to the 4



Finally (and this might be the most

important of our six rules), consider

whether the rumor is based in truth. It could be about something that really

happened or something that could happen. The best way to abolish the rumor is to fix the problem. Then, be honest with your constituencies (the public, press, employees, government, and others). Admit that you had a problem, but explain that it has been fixed. Show evidence of the remediation. In other words, combating rumors takes

Don’t let a rumor that has the consistency

judgment and its cousin, common sense,

of gelatin explode into a full-blown crisis.

along with a strong dose of finesse. Combating

Take the pulse of the rumor, and make

rumors can be challenging, but the alternative

decisions on the potential danger to the

– doing nothing – can be disastrous.

company if the rumor were to spread. 3

Don’t overreact, but don’t

Roman Diukarev is president of Willard

underreact, either.

Public Relations in Moscow. He can be

A rumor is not a crisis – though it can be a crisisin-waiting. If it has an immediate possibility of having a significant business impact, the decision to react quickly and strongly is imperative. However, if it is the proverbial tempest in a teapot, don’t risk spreading the rumor further and creating a genuine crisis.

reached at






UNDERSTAND First of all, ascertain the aim of a campaign accurately. You should do it during the first stage of your work on the project. Go slow. Try to understand your client:

how to work better with clients

Clarify The Rules Of The Game. Define the goals a client wants to reach with his ads. State these aims precisely and even write them down. Using first the client’s task brief, create a basic document that will outline the direction of your work. You should follow the document’s instructions when making any decisions concerning the project. Introduce this guideline document to each member of a creative team – the more information you give them, the more effective feedback you’ll get. This is the basis of all further development. Find Out More Information About Your Client. Make sure you properly understand the positioning of the company you work with. It is a rare occasion to advertise a company from the ground up. Most of the clients already have some history of promoting their products. Analyze it thoroughly in order to be aware of advertising traditions and preferred work methods.


f course, the Rolling Stones sing it the other way: “You can’t always get what you want”. However, talking about advertising agencies, we should forget this rule. They believe in other things. Agencies believe they actually can reach the desired goals. In the ad business, getting what the client wants is not only a nice motto for a corporate mission, but a daily routine. To ensure that the advertiser’s message is properly perceived by the customers is the agency’s job. An advertisement message is information your audience will get in the half-minute they’ll spend on your ad. So, a good advertising idea should be represented clearly, briefly and elegantly. The main principle is as plain as a pikestaff. If you’ve drawn an apple and someone recognizes that it actually is an apple, you’re on the right path. But if you’ve drawn an apple but everybody says it is a sliced alligator pear, something has gone wrong. The result of an advertising campaign should be relevant to your intentions and actions. An agency and a client need to coordinate with each other in order to reach this. In this case, the agency CAN get what they (clients) want. But how can you promote the coordination? Here are some tips.

Set Up You Priorities For Certain. Never pursue your own creative or business goals which could be detrimental to the client’s interests.. If you’re simply more interested in getting piles of awards for yourself, you’d better switch to charity. There you’ll bring more benefit and sooner satisfy your desire.


Evaluate The Project From The “Final Product” Point Of View. And bear in mind that the consumers will not find everything that the advertiser likes appealing. Have the courage to tell the client about this and explain the possible consequences of such actions. Companies and consumers always find themselves on opposite banks. Agencies are like bridges between them. Therefore, make sure that you are open for both sides. Anticipate Each Other. Do not turn work like a game of table-tennis, with documents, briefs and comments playing the role of a ball. Always remember that you and your client are on the same side of the table. External activity doesn’t always mean productivity. Make your joint meetings as effective as possible: prepare a list of questions, which you would like to discuss.

a good advertising idea should berepresented clearly, briefly and elegantly

Don’t Skip The Preparation Work. Even though it looks unnecessary, it will help you save lots of effort in the long run.

COOPERATE In you have chosen the direction for the advertising campaign, make sure that there would be no problems along the way. Therefore, cooperate with your client: Listen Carefully To The Client At The Early Project Stage. Prepare a few conceptions and let the advertiser decide which one to take. Let him know what you think about each one to make his choice easier. This way, you’ll create foundations of trust for the future work and help the client to understand his needs better. Many clients don’t know clearly what they want, so help them make up their mind.

APPRECIATE Establishing a close cooperation with your client is very important for developing a successful advertising campaign. Therefore, appreciate the client’s efforts. Every advertising agency constantly tells its success story. Everybody is happy to show their portfolio. Everybody boasts of the names of their clients. And very few are really proud of them. Remember: you not only sell your skills to the clients, you also gain experience with them. And since you work side by side, victories in the field of advertisements should be split at least among the two.

Combine Your Knowledge And Skills. Advertisers have the most insight into their own product. Take advantage of that: try to get as much information as possible. It may help you find some creative solution. On the other hand, you have a broad knowledge of advertising techniques. So use it

Lee Iacocca, one of the most successful managers the automobile industry has ever seen, made the representatives of the advertising agency members of the Chrysler marketing department not long after his arrival at this company. It was a clever decision, which is, however, not always possible and appropriate. The main thing that one should remember: cooperation between the agency and its clients is the most important thing. Since both of you are in the same boat, it is necessary to row in the same direction together. The opposite will take you down the stream, toward the waterfalls.

Keep Focused. There is a temptation to start working on a number of concepts at once. Clients always have a lot to tell about themselves. Nevertheless, the message that consumers receive, should be effective and easy to understand. Therefore, do not let the discussion deviate substantially from the chosen direction.

Viktor Nikolenko is senior copywriter at Willard in Kyiv. He can be reached at


social networks

social networks


S with most trends, on-line social networking for businesses started in the tech field. The tech side simply better understood the concept and how it could work for their brands. But that was so yesterday. More advertisers of everyday household goods are adding social media like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to the tactics they use to reach current and potential customers. As familiarity with the social media becomes more mainstream, companies like CocaCola, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble have added a new dimension to their marketing arsenal. For example, a company called Land O’Frost has established an online community called Land O’Moms. It’s housed on a website where consumers can exchange recipes and parenting advice, download coupons, read articles from women’s magazines and communicate with popular mommy bloggers. They also have presences on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. “It’s a whole revolution”, David Van Eekeren, president of Us-based Land O’Frost. “We need to be part of [social media], obviously”. This was quite a leap for Land O’Frost. Started by Van Eekeren’s grandfather, the company only decided two years ago to venture into television. But with its “prime consumers, moms”, increasingly devoted to the social media, he adds, it was time for Land O’Frost to figure out how to join in. In discussions with executives at Henson Consulting, a public relations agency, in Wheaton, Illinois., “they told us we should be tying all we’re doing” to a single Web site, Van Eekeren says, where mothers “can come and spend time and we can engage them on a different level”. The idea, he adds, is “to be a resource” to them and “not a sales pitch”, the better to “build loyalty from a product perspective”. That “takes a little swallowing”, Van Eekeren acknowledges, recalling that when he looked at an early version of the Land O’Moms Web site, “I said, ‘Where’s Land O’Frost’?” Van Eekeren soon realized he didn’t want his company “to be a commercial splashed in someone’s face”.

Social networking goes mainstream

More advertisers of everyday household goods are adding social media like facebook, twitter and youtube to the tactics they use to reach current and potential customers.


Is mobile marketing turning the corner? Could it be that the promise of mobile marketing is catching up to the hype? Every year, a few trendy forecasters declare that advertising on mobile devices is poised to become the next big thing in marketing. But every year, the results point to a belly flop. But maybe times are changing. This year, with technology powerhouses like Apple and Google introducing whole new mobile devices and buying up ad firms specializing in the small screen, the forecasts may finally be right. The sales pitch is a familiar one: The mobile phone offers advertisers all the benefits of traditional Internet ads, including the ability to track their effectiveness. It also lets marketers reach consumers on the go, on a gadget they clutch intimately. However, the fact is, according to Juniper Research conducted worldwide, spending on mobile advertising amounted last year to only GBR 869 million. That’s less than one-third of one percent of total ad revenue. Some marketers remain wary about trying it, for fear of annoying consumers by intruding on their personal space. A technical toolbox poorly equipped to work with small screens has also hurt; after all, banner ads the size of thumbnails don’t make a big impression. However, industry analysts say that now, with the introduction of Apple’s iPad tablet, an entirely new approach to mobile ads could be near. This is because the iPad, a cross between a laptop and an iPhone, looks more like an iPhone from an ad perspective. It does not support Adobe Flash, the software used for much PC-based advertising. So, to make their ads available to iPad users, marketers may have to develop new kinds of ads, rather than simply adapting existing web ads. “It’s a pretty exciting time for the market”, said Oliver Roxburgh, managing director of the British operations of YOC, a mobile ad agency. “It’s starting to grow up a little”. Mr. Roxburgh’s enthusiasm has been buoyed by the efforts of Apple and Google and is shared by a growing chorus of industry experts. Indeed, Windsor Holden, a principal analyst at Juniper Research, predicts that mobile ad spending worldwide will more than quadruple, to GBR 3.7 billion, by 2014. And he does not shrink from the prediction.




It’s about attitude, not age

Remember – tattoo it on your arm or somewhere – survival in the business world is about attitude and not age.

By Michael Willard


urviving professionally after 50 is all about attitude, not age. But sometimes it is hard to convince the 35-year-old boss in the corner office whose historic frame of reference is Aerosmith – not Elvis. When I was in my 20s, I looked at someone approaching 35 as middle-aged, slightly mildewed; someone at 50 as definitely over the hill and someone my age, close now to mid-60s, as a fellow who plays checkers all day and waits for the Grim Reaper’s visit. These days, if you are looking for a job at 60, you have about the same chance of landing one as being caught in the crossfire of a terrorist attack. It’s not easy out there. I think the same perception – versus the reality – carries over to older professionals who have jobs in advertising and public relations. There is a feeling they have lost a step, and probably need to retire or take a less challenging or less creative job in the agency. This stereotype is sometimes reinforced by people in the industry, such as Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP, or even business philosophers like Charles Handy. Sorrell, himself 65, recently said that ad agency management is too old to really understand new or digital media. Business philosopher Charles Handy, nearly 80, once wrote that creative directors are less creative as they grow older. This is nonsense.


6 Tips For Thriving in Tight Markets Whether the challenge is an economic downturn, growing competitive pressure or merely a seasonal lull in business, every business faces slow times occasionally. It may not be as important to analyze what caused the slump in sales as it is to address the issue of recovery. Here are six solid suggestions that should stimulate turnaround thinking:

The great architect Frank Lloyd Wright did his best work after 60; world-renowned heart surgeon Michael DeBakey helped oversee Boris Yeltsin’s bypass surgery in his 90s, and the famous fried chicken man, Col Harland Sanders created a fast-food empire, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), when he was a pensioner. In my view, Picasso, Matisse, and certainly Monet, did their best work after age 60. And then there is Harold Burson, PRWeek’s Man of the Century a decade ago. His creative and strategic advice is still sought by Fortune 500 companies. He’s 88. But what I find is that many older professionals simply don’t know how to handle themselves, whether in job interview or even when approaching potential clients who just might be younger than their children. For this reason, I put together my list of pointers for professionals who have already journeyed into what some of us call the “yellow leaf” period of our lives and careers: Remember – tattoo it on your arm or somewhere – survival in the business world is about attitude and not age. Steve Jobs will, we all hope, one day be 65. My guess is that no one will think Spanish moss is hanging on his persona. Live in the present. Corporate war stories are great around the bar but make you sound stale in a job interview or when being interviewed by a perspective client about your agency’s services. Don’t get into the “been there, done that” syndrome. In most businesses, particularly the ad and PR business, it isn’t about what you have done but what you know you can do in the future. Give the person sitting before you a glimpse of how you are going to increase his or her business.

Don’t be tone deaf to current culture. Yes, I watch MTV and VH1 on occasion and subscribed most years to Rolling Stone magazine. This doesn’t mean one is trying to recapture youth. It does mean that one’s frame of reference is something other than the 1960s. Bring different dimensions of your personal brand to the table. In other words, continually add to your professional portfolio new talents – talents that will impress a job interviewer or a potential new client. We’re not talking about the ability to do magic tricks here. We live in a technical world. Introduce yourself to it if you haven’t already. Don’t brag that you once stood in front of the printer waiting for a fax to come out, or that you are lost in any other computer program than “word”. As a corollary of the foregoing, be technically social. We once heard of an agency in New York not being hired because those making the pitch were not on Facebook. Be familiar with social networks, and use them. Don’t be yourself. Be your re-invented self. This goes contrary to a lot of business wisdom out there. However, if you are consistently adding to your portfolios, you will be an interesting subject for a job interview or a client interview. What can we say? It’s a jungle out there and getting tougher. You need to learn to play the game with finesse, or settle for an under-funded retirement and a shuffleboard court in Sun City. Michael Willard is chairman of Willard and international vice-chairman of All About Brands plc. He can be reached at

1. Take chances. While others are hunkering down, take strategic risks that have a reasonable chance of success. 2. Let the cream rise to the top. Stretch your people. If you can’t motivate them to work harder now to put food on their table in a downturn, they are probably not keepers in the long run. 3. Emphasize service. Service can be a great differentiator. People want to work with people who appreciate their business. Don’t just say that you offer great service, go the extra mile for client and they’ll do the talking for you. 4. Get noticed. If you are an advertiser, advertise and promote. If you are an agency, advertise and promote. When others are in retreat, digging in and ‘saving money’ – that’s when the marketplace will hear your message most clearly. Charge! 5. Think long term. Eventually, the storm clouds will pass. Now is the time you want to position yourself for future growth. 6. Learn new things. You have the time. This is not the time to take a long vacation. It is the time to think seriously about your company, your product, your agency.



Lazy Lexicon


We occasionally examine the words used, misused and abused by the advertising, marketing and public relations business. In our “Lazy Lexicon” feature, we highlight a word that more often than not doesn’t mean what it says.

“Exclusive” E


XCLUSIVE is one of the most misunderstood words in the business. In a media context, an ‘exclusive’ can be a story developed by an enterprising reporter that no one else has, or it can be an exclusive interview given to a particular journalist or publication that appears nowhere else. Every journalist, of course, would prefer that all of his or her stories flowed from brilliant investigative work and developed from information that competing reporters either couldn’t ferret out or simply did not pursue. In the PR business, it is common for a company, politician or institution to feel that there will be better, more complete coverage of a story if the facts are handed over exclusively to a single publication or broadcast outlet. And, to be honest, companies that give exclusive stories feel that this will ensure more favorable treatment, particularly if a PR professional is guiding the story. Exclusives can be dangerous, though.

By giving one reporter favorable treatment, there is a possibility that other reporters covering the same beat will feel slighted. There is also a good chance – if the story is not a real bell-ringer – that other media outlets will ignore the story once it is out. On the other hand, most publications are sufficiently mature to know that exclusives are given from time to time, and that the PR professional probably had a specific reason for letting one journalist know a story before releasing it to others. One scenario that should be avoided, however, is releasing information as an exclusive when, in fact, the news value does not rate “exclusive” status, and is merely a common, garden-variety story. Many journalists, on the other hand, aren’t too concerned about how exclusive the story really is. Often, they equate a private, one-on-one interview with exclusivity – even if the interview is one in an assembly line of such interviews being conducted on the same topic and on the same day.

By giving one reporter favorable treatment, there is a possibility that other reporters covering the same beat will feel slighted.

“Leader” Q

uick, what company do you associate with this statement: “We are a leader in the nation’s mobile phone sector”. Are you thinking T-Mobile? Orange? Etisalat? If you named any company at all, you’d be right. The fact is that any one of these companies would have occasion to lay claim to the ‘L-word’ in some regard, but mobile phone companies aren’t alone. Every business refers to itself as a ‘leader’ in one way or another. So, what’s the problem? The sad fact is that we can’t all be leaders. To lead, there must be followers. If nobody’s following, nobody’s leading. Worse than that, ‘leader’ has become a weasel word, a lazy way to claim you’re number one, even when you are quite aware that you are not. It would be preferable to state that “Ajax Chemical sold

more agricultural defoliants last year than all other companies combined”. That’s an accurate and defensible statement. It’s specific, while the bare assertion that “We’re the leader” is a barren boast, devoid of value to the inquiring consumer. The truth is, most firms probably are better at some aspect of their business than their competitors. We live in a ‘niche’ world. That’s why the so-called consumer choice awards have so many subcategories: By carving out tiny segments (“Best Uzbeklanguage newspaper in Poltava”) we can all be winners. Real leaders aren’t lazy, and they are honest. Before carelessly asserting that your company is a leader in its field, think of a more accurate, more informative and more specific claim, and use it instead. That would be showing real leadership!

The sad fact is that we can’t all be leaders. To lead, there must be followers.


the presenter

the presenter


Tell a story, win an audience By Scott H. Lewis


love to see people improve their speaking skills. Over the years, I learned that desire has a lot to do with eventual success, and practice is certainly an element. There is, however, a secret to delivering an interesting presentation. It’s a remarkably simple approach, and one that leaves the speaker coming across as relaxed, friendly, and above all, competent. The secret lies in the phrase, “Tell me a story”. If you ask me to describe how the internal combustion engine works, I’ll first have to research the topic (I’m one of the few men with little interest in, much less understanding of, mechanics). Once educated, I’ll probably still fumble around a bit in an extemporaneous presentation on the topic, because it’s an alien subject to me – one with which I have neither familiarity nor interest. Ask me, though, for a description of my last vacation, and I’ll enthusiastically paint word pictures. I’ll provide details of the people I met and places I visited, and tell a story or two that will bring my trip to life in your mind. Perhaps it will leave you wanting to see these places as well. As a former journalist, I know that the best way to get anyone to talk about anything is to first get them talking about themselves. I am my favorite topic of conversation, just as, probably, you are yours. Forget charges of egotism – the truth is, we like to talk about ourselves, our families, our friends, our jobs and our travels because the subject matter is both familiar and interesting to us. I can ask about four questions to almost anyone and prime their linguistic pump. That’s usually all it takes to find that “sweet spot” or “hot button” that loosens tongues.

Once I have a subject rattling away on a favorite subject, they become relaxed. That’s when, as a reporter, I’d start asking my ‘real’ questions – and getting answers that would normally have been guarded under mental lock and key. Sometimes, the wrong people make presentations – or rather, the presenter doesn’t match the presentation. We see this when the head of a department presents findings developed by a group of subordinates. The people who have the expertise deliver information to the boss, who lacks an intimate (much less enthusiastic) understanding of the data. Then everyone – including the boss – is surprised when the presentation falls short of expectations.

As a former journalist, I know that the best way to get anyone to talk about anything is to first get them talking about themselves. Sometimes the mark of a leader is to introduce a subordinate, then step aside and let the person who actually worked on the project make the presentation. They will be more at ease with the information, and will make a more natural presentation. This does not mean that if you may understand the material completely, you cannot make a bad presentation. Never underestimate our innate ability to construct roadblocks to our own success! Our preconceived ideas as to what the audience expects, what graphs or illustrations are required, and the degree of formality necessary all work to impede creation and delivery of a great presentation.

Rather than opening Power Point and starting to build slides full of data, text, graphs, charts, and the other flotsam and jetsam of corporate presentations, go into a quiet room with a tape recorder and ask yourself this question: “So, what’s your presentation about?” With the recorder running, tell your story, just as you would if a colleague had asked the question. You’ll find that telling someone about your project is easy, and that you automatically organize your thoughts pretty well. Also, because it’s natural to tell others about what we’re doing, there will be no stress involved. Your palms will stay dry, and your heart won’t race. When you’re finished, review the tape. You’ll hear a confident, organized and compelling speaker – you! Transcribe the tape. It’s the bulk of your presentation. Add the necessary charts and graphs, a short introduction and a shorter conclusion. As you practice giving the presentation (yes, you will still need to practice), you’ll find that you feel comfortable and much more confident, whether you’re speaking to a tape recorder or an audience. After all, you’re no longer making that dreaded important presentation, you’re just telling your listeners a story – a story that you know better than anyone!

Scott H. Lewis is an executive vice president at Willard. He can be reached at

FACTFILE It’s important that corporate boards have PR representation, according to Tony Good, who says that businesses which listen to lawyers over their PR people are inviting commercial disaster. The best way to combat harmful rumors, crisis expert Roman Diukarev writes, is to investigate, determine the truth and fix the problem.

All About Brands magazine, London edition, is published by All About Brands PLC, 77 St. Martin’s Lane, London, WC2N 4AA, U.K. The magazine is distributed without charge to corporate executives throughout the United Kingdom. The magazine is produced by Willard, a full-service advertising, public relations and publishing firm headquartered in Kyiv, Ukraine; an All About Brands Company. Publisher: All About Brands Chief Editor: J. Michael Willard Editors: Scott H. Lewis, Oksana Yerofeyeva Designer: Denis Khaibulin

Reviving a flagging brand may feed a nostalgic need, but if the product’s audience is shrinking, it probably isn’t a worthwhile idea, says Amy Frengley. Mark Rollinson says that, when working with creatives, it’s OK not to be the smartest person in the room. Work with the cleverest minds you can find, he recommends. Spending on internet advertising topped GBP 35 billion in 2009 – surpassing TV ad spend for the first time. HTML is the only way to make full use of the internet’s potential, opins digital communications expert Hayden Sutherland. .

Illustrator: Ruslan Brygar Contributors: Graham Anderson, Roman Diukarev, Amy Frengley, Viktor Nikolenko, Mark Rollinson, Andrew Mackay, Michael Willard, Scott Lewis, Allan Biggar. Please address correspondence to: To advertise, contact: Publication Office: Willard, 3/4, Malozemelna Street Kyiv 02132, Ukraine Fax: +38 (044) 353-1026 Printed in Ukraine. ISSN 2046-7389

Welcome, All About Brands magazine! Willard is proud to welcome All About Brands magazine to its collection of publications. As a new member of the All About Brands group of companies, we are delighted to produce this exciting and colorful new periodical.

Watch for new issues five times a year. To contribute or advertise in our Abu Dhabi, London or Mumbai editions, contact:

The Biggar Picture “I believe a company has to stand for something. That something must be more powerful than its individual parts, and more combustible than the energy that feeds the bottom line. A company, my company, must be a living, breathing organism. It must have a soul. The casual observer must know not only who we are and what we do but also for what we stand. That’s what a brand is all about”. - Allan Biggar, chairman, All About Brands

All About Brands is a vertically integrated marketing communications company headquartered in London with offices also in Abu Dhabi, Mumbai, Moscow, Istanbul, Kyiv and affiliates throughout the world.

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