Strategic Public Relations
Focused on public relations strategy within the integrated marketing communications mix.

Wednesday, July 31, 2002  

The Brands in Command

A list of the world's most valuable corporate brands has been released by CoreBrand, a global brand strategy and communications firm.

There are the usual suspects--GE, Microsoft and 3M. However I was surprised to see ExxonMobil on the list along with Chevron-Texaco and Royal Dutch Petroleum. They all beat the big 3 automakers who firmly anchor the tail end of the top 50 ranking.

The research is important as it measures brand equity as a percentage of market cap. Bottom line metrics are rarely at the forefront of marketing communications. However if you cannot provide data points to prove marketing communications' effectiveness in today's economy--make room for someone that can. The only way marketing communications can defend and grow its budget is to show how its budget impacts the bottom line.

Public relations professionals seemingly spend more time debating over effectiveness metrics than they spend time actually doing the work. Personally I think our lack of leadership in this area contributes to our difficulty in getting a seat at management's table. Fine, we're word people and not number people. But the sooner we show how public relations impacts the bottom line, the sooner we'll get the status and access needed for ongoing strategic success.

Have you hugged your calculator lately?

posted by Kevin Dugan | 8:44:00 AM

Sunday, July 28, 2002  

“Martha, Martha, Martha!”

Current events always provide excellent fodder for public relations' dissection, er, discussion. Martha Stewart's crisis is no different. Specifically, the investigations concerning her involvement with possible insider trading of ImClone Systems, Inc. stock.

As you should know by now, Stewart sold her shares of ImClone the day before the Food and Drug Administration announced it would not review the company's cancer drug application. Stewart is also a personal friend of ImClone's former CEO, who was arrested on charges of securities fraud and conspiracy for allegedly tipping family members to sell their stock.

This is obviously a great example of the need for crisis communication plans. According to the Associated Press, Stewart spent her Fourth of July holiday hiring The Brunswick Group to do damage control.

This was immediately after her last, and now infamous, appearance on CBS' The Early Show. She said, ''I want to focus on my salad,'' when asked about the ImClone issue during her then weekly cooking segment (she canceled the segment shortly afterwards).

We could note this snafu proves out the importance of media training. But lets look at the bigger issue of brand strategy. Crisis communication's and media training's role in a brand strategy is to preserve and reinforce the brand—when used proactively. Far too often, they're used reactively with mixed results.

In a recent quarterly earnings call, Stewart focused on how she is one employee of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO). She noted the show will go on and the brand will endure without her.

This approach keeps everyone focused on the business, focused on the many employees that have nothing to do with Stewart's personal investments. This distances MSLO from Stewart.

Another strategy, implemented by a Stewart fan, is grassroots activism. Save Martha is a movement that has been getting a lot of attention, claiming Martha Stewart is a victim. The Web site points to the management of companies under scrutiny right now (from Tyco and Adelphia to WorldCom and Enron). Save Martha feels they are the real criminals and tries to minimize the allegations against Stewart. It also enables visitors with an action plan and offers them merchandise so they can show their support.

Will this all have an impact and help Stewart save face? It is too soon to tell as allegations are still being investigated. But whether it is a quarterly earnings call or grassroots activism, the strategy of distraction only buys her some time.

For now she is lying low, perhaps planning phase two of her brand defense. She'd better hurry. With the Corporate Reform Bill fast en route to becoming a law, the stakes are even higher for Stewart if she is found guilty.

To keep track of all the recent corporate scandals, check out CNN's special section.

posted by Kevin Dugan | 10:17:00 PM

Saturday, July 27, 2002  

Welcome to Strategic Public Relations

This informational Web site has been created thanks to the train of thought technology known as blog. will take a look at public relations as it fits within the integrated marketing communications mix.

So be sure to bookmark this site, come back often and let me know if you have any questions or comments at the following email address.

For more on the inspiration behind this site, check out the following article in Information Week.

posted by Kevin Dugan | 8:16:00 AM