Corporate Communications – The Authentic Enterprise

Found this down the back of the internet. It’s a report – entitled The Authentic Enterprise – from  the Arthur W. Page Society (an American organisation for the promotion and betterment of public affairs and corporate communications professionals). It examines the changing nature of a business’ relations with its publics and what it needs to do to adapt to, exist in and survive today’s world of open and transparent communications. I should say – it’s from 2007 – but I hope the following exerpts will intrigue you as much as they intrigued me. It’s genuinely quite sensible.

“The quality of the company’s products and services (or lack thereof) is apparent to all customers and potential customers. Its treatment of employees and retirees is visible across the corporation and to potential employees and public interest groups. Its citizen ship, environmental behaviour, corporate governance standards, executive compensation practices and public policy recommendations are transparent to all.”

“A company must be able to answer such questions as: What business are we in? What markets do we serve? What differentiates us as an employer, an investment, a partner, a neighbour? In what do we deeply believe? What will endure? What do we value? And how can we ensure that everyone associated with the far-flung enterprise understands and acts in accordance with our mission, values, goals and operating principles?”

“However, building a management system based on values is a significant challenge.”

Spin – Not What You Say, But What You Appear to Have Said

Another weekend, another bag of political shenaniganning. The one-eyed Scottish idiot (that’s Gordon Brown, according to Jeremy Clarkson – he, Gordon should consider himself lucky, according to Jeremy Clarkson, Prince Philip is a c**t) was on Andrew Marr’s telly programme on Sunday morning, when Marr asked the question that we’ve all be dying to get an answer to. Is, in fact, Prudence Broon a stark raving lunatic, retaining a modicum of self-control only through the use of industrial-strength medecines? Here’s the transcript:

“Marr If you were an American president, we would know all about your medical history. You were asked in the States about your eyesight, and I think the reason you were asked is because people were wondering whether that would be a reason for standing down at some point. Let me ask you about something else everybody has been talking about – a lot of people … use prescription painkillers and pills to help them get through. Are you one of those?

Brown No. I think this is the sort of questioning that is …

Marr It’s a fair question, I think.

Brown … is all too often entering the lexicon of British politics. I have had very serious problems with my eye. I lost my eyesight playing rugby. I had three major operations and they could not save my sight. I then had exactly the same thing happen to my second eye … and every year, of course, I have to check, as I did only a few days ago, that my eyesight is good and there has been absolutely no deterioration in my eyesight, and I think people should be absolutely clear that although …

Marr What about my other question?

Brown I answered your other question. Although I have problems with my eyes and it has been very difficult over the years, I think people understand that you can do a job and you can work hard. And I think it would be a terrible indictment of our political system if you thought that because someone had this medical issue they couldn’t do the job. So, Andrew, I think these questions … of course you might be right to ask them, but … I feel that I have done everything to show people that I can do the job even with the handicap that I’ve had as a result of a rugby injury.”

This morning, the news channels are full of it. Complaints are being made to the Beeb for allowing Marr to ask the question and ‘right wing blogs’ are the new reds under our beds. In fact, there’s a real feeling that Gordon Brown really should not have been put in the situation where he had to dignify the rumours (about his use of anti-depressants) with such a denial.

But – hold up a moment. He didn’t deny it. Did he? All I read here is a sentence that, in its entirety, says “No. I think this is the sort of questioning that is all too often entering the lexicon of British politics. I have had very serious problems with my eye.” Which I understand to mean ‘no – don’t go there – this is the sort of question you shouldn’t be asking.’ I don’t see a denial there at all.

A little later, Marr asks again ‘about my other question’. And Brown simply says ‘I answered your other question’. Again, no denial – this time a simple refusal to revisit his previous answer.  Obviously – it’s not a massively important point – either he is taking horse-tranquillisers or he isn’t. And if he is, he’ll be stuffed, whether he denied it or not.

What really intrigues me is the way that apparently sensible people have seen his words as a denial. He said the word ‘no’ and therefore he’s denied whatever he was being accused of. Or is it that there’s some massive cover-up going on, for reasons of national security?

Either way, while Gord’s got muckers like the Other Prime Minister on his side, no amount of cover-up conspiracy his going to save his grey and jowly neck. Can’t help but noticing how quick Peter was to speak out ‘in defence’ of the PM, thereby ensuring that the issue wasn’t forgotten, or passed over by a less-than-vigilant media.

And this is the same Peter Mandelson who, at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, when the waggish Mr Bean called out ‘Mr Prime Minister!’ simply smiled a hooded and vulpine smile and replied ‘not yet’.

And speaking, as I have been, of Mandy, Gord and painkillers – I quite enjoyed this.

It’s The End of The World As We Know It……..

….and I feel fine. Sorry. Gratuitous REM reference.

Listen chaps, sorry I’m a bit late coming to this one, but it is quite important. So listen carefully.

Great story in PR Week, couple of weeks ago. (I know, I know, I’m not a fan of PR Week, but credit where credit’s due, eh?) It was about the Guido Fawkes blog – see, here – more specifically, the chap behind it, Paul Staines, avowing to take on and reveal ‘the fat cats of spin and their hidden hand in politics’. He said his primary targets were Matthew Freud (almost had a Freudian spelling slip there – irony at its most pure), Alan Parker and Roland Rudd.

What Mr Staines is reported as saying is that ‘there is a legitimate role for lobbying, but (not) over coffee and cigars after a meal.’ He also said ‘people are coming to me with information and I’m building up a picture of who. what, where.’ Our august industry journal went on to reveal that ‘lobbyists privately dismissed Staines’ efforts, but were reluctant to go on record’. Hold on – where’s all that smoke coming from?

Personally, I think this is brilliant stuff. If Mr Staines delivers on his promise, then we (as an industry) are in for some very interesting times. Spin will have been proven. All those terrible rumours about PR behind closed doors will be exposed as truth – in the minds of most Daily Mail readers, anyway. What I would really like to have seen, mind, is some response from Messrs Freud, Parker or Rudd – but I am a realist and it’ll be a cold day in hell etc etc etc.

The real star of the piece, mind, was Lionel Zetter. “The Tories have been using the letters page of PR Week to send a clear message to lobbyists that it will not be ‘business as usual’ if they win the next general election.” Excellent.

Wait a minute, though – is Mr Zetter saying that it IS currently ‘business as usual’? And am I right in understanding that ‘business as usual’ in the context of this article is the ‘coffee and cigars after a meal’ that Mr Staines talks about? Confirmation, perhaps, that Guido Fawkes is on to a winner?

Anyway, I know nothing about the subject. I think it is a marvellous story though and I look forward to the follow-ups.

The only thing, and it’s just a thought, why was it buried on page whatever of the magazine, while the front page was graced with a ‘story’ about research that showed that professional footballers are not in touch with their fans?

Surely some mistake? Or is Mr Staines considered too dangerous for the front page?

Over-Confidence or The Dawn of a New Era?

I’m really not clever enough for this, but here we go anyway:

Massive mistake? Brilliant piece of rehab PR? Signal to the country (or those who think about it, anyway) that there’s a new prime minister in town?  Advance warning to the lefty faithful?

What was this all about? Mr Mandelson comes across as a pantomime villain (or pantomime dame). The references to his ‘aides’ and the notes and glances passed between them could be directly from an airport novel, or an American drama (series 2, episode 12). What were they/he/who thinking on this one?

Peter Mandelson is running the country, people. Unelected, unlooked-for and unasked-for. He is the most powerful man in the country, and – as far as I can see, to show us all how easy it’s been and how established his powerbase is – he gives an interview in which he comes across as camper than the Childcatcher outta Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It’s Paul O’Grady, but more sinister.

And the real worry about all of this? The fact that a ‘serious’ paper like Teh Grauniad publishes speculation that Pete might end up as Prime Minister. He’s a spin doctor, for God’s sake. He’s one of us. He’s a communications practitioner.

Actually, that’s not the real worry. The real worry, for me anyway, is that I’ve spent my career believing that things would be run better if comms practitioners were at the top table – and possibly, maybe, in charge. Now, it appears that a comms practitioner might achieve that goal – and might, actually, be in charge.

And guess what – I think it might be a good thing – but as I said at the beginning – I’m not really clever enough for this.

Silent with Rage – Better Off Just Silent?

‘Fraid this isn’t very timely – been busy doing nothing, d’you see – but the more I sat and thought (as opposed to just sitting, which is what I try and do mostly) I felt this needed a little exploration/explanation – what with all the current hoo-ha over Directors of Communications for political parties (sorry – that’s the ‘phone……….strange…….nobody there).

Anyway, there I was, minding my own business, consuming some media, when I happen across a (what can hardly, really, be called a) story about Damien McBride and the PM (Gordon, not Peter) and the PM’s reaction (Gordon’s, not Peter’s) when McPoison told him about the content of the unfounded smear emails he’d been circulating. He was (that’s the PM, G not P), and I’m paraphrasing, shaking and silent with rage. Might even have been speechless. Beyond angry, anyway, and out the other side.

Well, you’d hope so, really, wouldn’t you. But, and here’s the thing, why did we need to know? And, more to the point, how come the ‘news’ got into the media anyway (‘cos it wasn’t just one story, no, I saw it run across other outlets, when I bothered to look).

So, was it No 10, trying, as part of a rearguard action, to show G (not P) in a favourable light (speechless with anger and rage and probably coated in mortification also)? And therefore distancing himself further from the evil McPoison? Or was it McBride himself, finding it all a bit difficult on the employment front, making an attempt to rehabilitate himself – a bit ot a tw*t, but honest enough to ‘fess up and take the (silent with rage) consequences? Or was it a half dozen of one and six of t’other – collusion between No 10 and McPoison – ‘this’ll help us both, Damian, mate’? (And if so, was it also testing the waters, laying the first good intentions on that road to Damian’s rehabilitation?)

Whatever, it made me suspicious. (But I’m always suspicious.) For what it’s worth, I reckon it’s McBride trying to rehabilitate himself. I mean, no-one would be stupid enough to fan the dying embers of this unhappy episode, running the risk of re-ignition and all the nightmare that would come with it, on the off-chance that it might have some small positive impact on the PM’s (G’s, not P’s) reputation.

Would they?