Christine Barney|Nov 8, 2012

Do you believe that regular exercise is good for you? Most of you would raise your hands and say yes. But do you exercise regularly? I bet most of those hands would go down. If you know something is true, why isn’t that belief enough to cause you to act?

That was one of the questions posed at the Holmes Report Global PR Summit earlier this month. John Iwata, both CMO and CCO at IBM, shared his thoughts on how public relations moves audiences from awareness to belief to action. Joining the roster were leaders of global brands and agencies from as far as away as Ukraine, Demark and Morocco.

It was my first time at a global summit, and the overwhelming takeaway was that, yes, it really is a small world. When I spoke on how to build a civilized workplace by weeding out the jerks, people from a multitude of cultures and countries nodded in agreement at the problems jerks cause.

Well, maybe knowing there are jerks all over the world isn’t a big “aha,” but throughout this three day event I repeatedly had conversations that reinforced the universal issues faced by communicators the world over. If I had to boil it down, I would say the top questions were:

  • How do we engage audiences to inspire action, not just knowledge?
  • How do we manage through a changing marketplace?
  • Are there new social dynamics in each generation that change how people behave?
  • Can you harness technology to enhance communication?
  • Do companies have to make emotional connections or stand for something to be relevant to customers? (We say yes. See our blog on Breakout Brands.)
  • Is “the big idea” still relevant?
  • Will all communications eventually be integrated and not silo driven by PR, advertising, etc.?

And what were the answers?  Yes, yes, yes, yes and oh boy yes.

The excitement expressed by presenters on every panel echoed that times are changing and the communication industry is racing to keep up or get in front.  I also saw that company size or location had little influence on the strategies used to grow market share.

rbb’s  own panel on Breakout Brands was a perfect case in point. Panelists from BacardiDuncan Hines and Better Place all had stories to tell of adopting a “customer first” strategy that created emotional connections with consumers that drove bottom line purchases. The case studies we saw showcased creativity as well as results and challenged each of us to push  harder to do great things.

The Global PR Summit made me believe that public relations is a global profession with a growing body of knowledge and inspired me to act by sharing my thoughts with you today. You can see all the things you missed at the Holmes Report Storify.


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