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Weber Shandwick

Top Firms Would Do Anything for Money, But They Won’t Do THAT

the world for sale

Recently we reported on the large number of publicity firms willing to represent foreign dictators (turns out London has cornered the market on that demographic).

There’s one group of clients that our colleagues across the pond won’t touch, however: climate change deniers. Read more

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STUDY: Employees May Be the Best Brand Advocates

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See, stock photos never lie

Who can best defend a brand’s reputation on social? According to a newly published Weber Shandwick study, the answer may come from within.

The study, conducted in collaboration with KRC Research (full PDF here), concerns trends in “employee activism”, or the ability of those within an organization to become its most prominent defenders.

An online survey of 2,300 employees in 15 different markets around the world found that:

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DiGiorno in Crosshairs for Animal Abuse on Its Dairy Farm

Animal Abuse Dairy FarmAs most flacks understand, PR is the world of “What have you done for me lately.”

It was only a couple of weeks ago when we were heralding the genius behind Nestle Co.-owned company (also behind California Pizza Kitchen, Tombstone and Jack’s) during a live tweet symposium during NBC’s live production of “The Sound of Music.”

All that jocularity has been put to sleep with this unfortunate and mournful report that its dairy farm, Wiese Brothers Farm, has been caught on YouTube abusing cows. Many of them.

FAIR WARNING: Before the jump, if you are so inclined, here is the investigation video that shows the abuse. NSFW (because it will cause vitriolic emotion) and really depressing.

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Does Public Relations Have a Problem Relating to the Public?

shutterstock_105032324Weber Shandwick‘s president of digital Chris Perry addressed the headlining question in a Forbes article inspired by a recent conference on the future of media and PR. Here’s the issue as he sees it:

“The continued, misguided belief that marketing and PR teams are smarter than people they are trying to reach.”

A common complaint made against media “elites” and board members alike is that they underestimate the intelligence of their audience. Does PR have the same problem? Here’s a key quote from media critic Douglas Rushkoff, whose new book Present Shock is an analysis of the current state of things:

“This is an industry fathered by a man — Ed Bernays — that believed that people were too stupid to run their own lives.”

That stings. But how many times do we remind ourselves to keep the message simple so the public understands it?

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Study: Millennial Moms are Highly Connected and Influential on Social Media, But Neglected by Marketers

Think all moms can be lumped into a “mommy category” when it comes to marketing demographics? Think that young mothers are too busy balancing home-life, career and baby to interact with people (and brands) on social media? On both counts, you’d better think again.

New research done by Weber Shandwick shows that “Millennial Moms” (mothers born between 1978 and 1994) are both highly connected and highly influential on social media, and yet marketers have thus far failed to fully tap into this potentially potent demographic.

These women, who account for 22 percent of North American mothers, use an average of 3.4 social media accounts, compared to 2.6 by other moms. They also spend 17.4 hours per week on social networks, which is four more than mothers of other generations, the study says.

Millennial Moms are also more likely to share information about goods and services, and do so both digitally and offline. Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of Millennial Moms say they are sought out more often than other friends for advice on a wide range of topics. They are also more likely than the average mom to provide recommendations online. In an average month, Millennial Moms “like” or recommend products or services online 10.4 times, while the average mom only does so 7.7 times.

“Because Millennial moms are digital natives and grew up with the Internet more so than older generations, they have become accustomed to sharing more,” said Liz Rizzo, SVP at Weber and a lead developer on the research. And yet, despite their potential power, Rizzo also pointed out that this group of women — of which there are 9 million in North America — feels “overlooked by marketers.” Read more

Weber Shandwick EVP Talks Content Creation and the New PR Model

Yesterday we posted on Weber Shandwick‘s new unit Mediaco, which will focus on creating and distributing content for clients. Today we had the chance to talk to Jason Wellcome, the Weber digital EVP who will run the new unit, on exactly what his teams do — and what this development means for the PR industry.

Here’s the firm’s promo video:

In our conversation, Wellcome gave us a little more detail on the strategy and its implications:

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Weber Shandwick CEO Says PR More Responsible for ‘Big Ideas’ on Strategy

Weber Shandwick CEO Andy PolanskyIn a new Adweek interview on the future of public relations, Weber Shandwick CEO Andy Polansky says that PR is increasingly “the steward of the strategy”. He believes that developments in digital/social media are the “biggest growth engines” for the industry at large and that they have increased the amount of power that firms hold when shaping messaging strategies for clients.

He makes some very strong statements about social media being “the core of everything we’re doing” and echoes Edelman‘s sentiments about an industry more directly involved in the creative process, saying that “Whoever retains the most creative thinkers will win market share.”

The topics covered in the interview are, in fact, similar to those Polansky addressed when we spoke to him after his promotion last November. In that post he also focused on the power that firms have gained through social media and the very “explosion of data” that has led some to create their own custom analytics tools. The Adweek quote that interests us most concerns the public’s perception that PR is all about “spin” when more firms are concerned with pushing and sharing a given client’s narrative through content and messaging than containing and minimizing the effects of its missteps.

These are familiar talking points to anyone who works in the industry, but we’re interested in specifics: in what ways have firms begun more aggressively managing media strategies for clients over the past few years?

CEOs Going Social: An Interview with Leslie Gaines-Ross of Weber Shandwick

How social is your CEO?

Weber Shandwick‘s recently released follow-up to its 2010 study “Socializing Your CEO: From (Un)social to Social” doesn’t contain many earth-shattering revelations or statistics that will inspire double takes. But its findings do provide evidence of a shift toward sociability among CEOs across the business spectrum that will only increase over the next few years.

Also: In the future, many of these executives will spend more time working with internal communications teams or third-party PR firms to maximize the impact of their social activities.

Some key conclusions:

  • 66% of consumers say their perceptions of CEOs affect their impressions of companies and the products these companies sell.
  • Overall usage of social networks among the CEOs of the world’s largest companies barely changed from 2010-12, going from 16% to 18%, but…
  • “Sociability” stats exploded: In 2010, only 38% of CEOs could be described as “social”. In 2012 that number was 66%.

What does this mean? We recently spoke to Leslie Gaines-Ross, chief reputational strategist at Weber Shandwick, to find out.

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Interview with New Weber Shandwick CEO Andy Polansky

Andy Polansky, CEO Weber ShandwickLast week the Interpublic Group announced the promotion of PR firm Weber Shandwick‘s former president, Andy Polansky, to the position of CEO. Polanksy had served as president of Weber Shandwick since 2004; he replaced outgoing CEO Harris Diamond (who in turn became chairman and CEO of “ad agency network” McCann Worldgroup).

Polansky has worked for Shandwick and its predecessor firms in various capacities for approximately 30 years; he is a member of the Arthur W. Page Society who currently sits on the Board of Trustees for the Institute for Public Relations, and he has also served as chairman of the Council of PR Firms for the past two years.

On Friday we had the opportunity to get Polanksy’s thoughts on a changing PR industry; we’ve reprinted our exchange below.

Could you briefly describe the changes you’ve seen affecting Weber Shandwick and the PR industry at large during your time with the firm?

I’ve been with Weber Shandwick and its predecessor firms for nearly 30 years, so of course the change has been quite dramatic! Over the past few years we’ve seen significant shifts in how people consume and share information. We’ve also seen a heightened focus on the changing context of go-to-market approaches, with public policy and reputation considerations now playing a larger role in how organizations shape strategies. Public relations firms increasingly play a lead role in the fast-changing environment. It’s an exciting time to be in this business.

There seems to be a consensus around social media and the data/analytics explosion exerting a great influence on the PR industry of the future. What is your take on this subject?

Social media’s rise has transformed our industry, as companies focus on new ways to engage with their customers.  Whether you’re a B2B company, dealing with a reputational issue or crisis or launching a new consumer product, social media is front and center – a nexus for everything we consider now for any type of communications program. There has been an explosion of data available to formulate insights, to inform strategy, and to create pathways to breakthrough creative thinking.

How do you see the relationship between PR, marketing and advertising changing?

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Update: Weber Shandwick to Promote Federal Insurance Exchanges

Earlier this week we posted on the deal that Ogilvy PR Worldwide signed to promote the new health insurance law in the state of California.

Now we have a piece of follow-up news: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has hired Weber Shandwick to “raise awareness” about the other state-based healthcare insurance exchanges–those that will be managed by the federal government.

Here’s the lowdown: these exchanges are essentially virtual marketplaces enabling citizens to compare and choose between competing providers’ plans, and they’re one of the central components of The Affordable Care Act, which requires states to create them by January 2013. In states that do not set up exchanges by that date, the federal government will create its own “federally facilitated” exchanges by default—and these are the exchanges to be promoted by Weber Shandwick.

Here’s the challenge: To date, only 13 states and the District of Columbia have agreed to manage their own exchanges.

This is a particularly big get for Shandwick, which was recently named PR News’s “Digital Firm of the Year” just after winning the title of “Global PR Firm of the Year” via The Holmes Report.

The future of the insurance exchange project will be interesting to say the least.

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