Societal Themes Shaping 2020
December 17, 2019
She’s not old enough to drive a car in her hometown of Stockholm, but that didn’t keep teen climate activist Greta Thunberg from gracing the cover of Time as its youngest-ever Person of the Year or getting nominated for a Nobel Prize. Time described her as a “galvanizing force” – the “avatar of a broader...
Telling a Complete Brand Story
December 11, 2019
Brands often struggle to tell a complete story. It’s even more challenging to tell a story that inspires consumers to sit up and listen – let alone act or change behavior as a result of said story. Does a brand tell a story about our products and services or a story about its heart and...
42x The Cost of Crisis Communications Management and Everything Else in the Universe
November 14, 2019
When Douglas Adams wrote “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,” he added a joke which has become famous over the years: “The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42.” Like the broader narrative of Hitchhiker, which follows the (mis)adventures in space of the last surviving human hoping to be...
What Makes a Company a Great Place to Work Might Not Be What You Think
October 22, 2019
It wasn’t long ago when employers faced a barrage of feedback from employees — and potential employees — about the critical importance of flexibility in the workplace. Interestingly, of the issues we asked about in this year’s “Authenticity in Action” study, that topic now registers dead last in importance with workers. It’s not because employees...
Authenticity, Action and the Age of Employee Activism
October 1, 2019
Climate change dominated conversations last week during the UN General Assembly in New York, with Greta Thunberg’s speech demanding leaders do better capturing headlines all over the world. Also capturing headlines with increasing regularity are employees publicly challenging their employers to act decisively on issues that matter to them. Last week it was climate change,...
Is the Jig Up for the Gig Economy?
September 20, 2019
The fight is on to define what being an employee means for more than a million people in California, with consequences that reach far beyond. Disruptive business models are being disrupted. This time by the law of the land. Companies like Uber and Lyft owe much of their success to the cost savings reaped by...
Consumers Care About People, Not Products
August 29, 2019
Imagine for a second, you look at a tag or a label on a box and it tells a different kind of story. It’s not about what’s IN the box. It’s about HOW what’s in the box was created and by who. Imagine a story that reveals the craftsmanship behind who made the product or...
The Authenticity Gap
August 18, 2019
Think about the last decision you made about something you knew would impact your organization’s reputation. Was it based on years of experience and good instincts? If so, you likely missed the mark. For years, we have forged our craft and our careers with the lessons we learned through hard-won experience. But that collection of...
The Opportunity Cost of Not Having an Executive LinkedIn Profile
June 28, 2019
Today executives are challenged more than ever before to keep pace with the ever-evolving workplace. Digital transformation, the gig economy and the rise of the next gen workforce are more than just buzzwords – they’re proof points that the business world is radically and rapidly changing all around us. According to a recent eMarketer report,...
Redefining Corporate Sustainability
June 5, 2019
We’ve reached a new day in environmentalism and sustainability. Now more than ever, we are looking at the big picture and recognizing the long-term impacts of our behaviors and the products we consume. We can see it in the generation of children suffering from poor neurodevelopment, asthma and heart disease due to crippling levels of...
Meet the Challenge of World Password Day
May 2, 2019
The best and most expensive cybersecurity tools all have the same weakness: a password. If the password stays known only to its user, it works well to protect information and systems. Unfortunately, users make a lot of mistakes with passwords that can create devastating consequences for organizations. When hackers destroy and steal because of user...
ESG Reporting: A Virtuous Cycle
April 22, 2019
“Investor interest in aligning capital is really a means to an end, and that end is sustainable development.” – Tim Mohin I recently sat down with long-time acquaintance, Tim Mohin, CEO of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and author of the book, Changing Business from the Inside Out, to discuss the state of environmental, social...
Three Ways to Influence What World We Leave Behind
April 22, 2019
Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. - An ancient Native American proverb This adage hung on my wall at home as a teenager, a decade before I had children of my own. It was meaningful to me then, but ever...
I’ve Taken the Pledge to Stop Saying “Non-Financial”: 4 Learnings from the GRI Reporters’ Summit
March 4, 2019
Companies that want to be successful in the long term must get comfortable with the uncomfortable. That was a key theme in FleishmanHillard’s recent Navigating Zero Gravity report. And it was reinforced throughout the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Reporters’ Summit North America on February 25, where sustainability-minded professionals converged on Tempe, Ariz., to get updates on the use of the GRI Standards, hear and see best practices and discuss emerging trends. Ready or not, here are my top four takeaways: 1. Investors are...
Employee Appreciation Day? You’re Better Off Making it the Way You Do Business
February 28, 2019
Today like never before, talent is at a premium. U.S. unemployment rates are reaching record lows, creating one of the most competitive labor markets in memory. Employers face significant challenges attracting – and keeping – a diverse talent base as workers have more options and higher standards now than any time in recent history. Beyond affecting retention, internal culture increasingly is becoming a scrutinized facet of companies’ external brands with the potential to influence –...
Data Privacy is a Fickle Beast
January 28, 2019
The bargain most of us agree to when we decide to use almost any online service is one of the internet’s oldest. The promise of “free” services that help us connect with friends, curate our music library or navigate a traffic jam has generally been a pretty easy exchange for most of us. Though these...
No Guts, No Thank You
January 23, 2019
There is no time more telling about the health of a company’s values then when an issue or crisis lands at the door. Whether a product fail, an executive misconduct, or a service break down – it’s surprising how many seasoned decision makers are paralyzed on what to do. In these moments, the absence of...
The Increasing Importance of Accountability and Expectation Setting
January 9, 2019
While I am passionate about accountability and expectation setting, I haven’t always understood them. Once, when I was young, I was supposed to be watching my brother, but instead, I was on the phone for an hour talking to my friends (the days when you would pull the cord as long as it would go...
Customers to Corporations: Handle My Data With Care, or Else…
November 14, 2018
There’s a fatalistic phrase I hear a lot that goes, “it’s not a question of if your organization is breached, but when.” With the volume of breaches and data security-related incidents in the news on an almost daily basis, you can understand why one might feel that way. But FleishmanHillard’s own Authentic Insights found that found that 81% of engaged consumers in the U.S. and 80%...
With Millennials, Your Company’s Response to Issues Makes Every Day Election Day for Your Brand
November 6, 2018
At no time more than this U.S. midterm election week has it been so apparent that we are living in divisive times. Myriad events in recent months have focused the world’s attention on an array of issues, exposing the raw, emotional nerves of society and polarizing populations here and abroad. And more often than not,...
Listen to Outrage
October 23, 2018
It’s hard to listen — to really hear people — when they’re angry … and yet, it is so important to the work we do. It’s hard to pinpoint the issues and be reasonable when it seems the people on the other end are upset — whether on the phone, on social media, in protest marches...
Navigating Zero Gravity
October 3, 2018
How do companies speak out on issues, but not alienate their customers and employees? Explaining the motive matters. You may not call it “zero gravity,” but you likely know what it feels like. Zero gravity is a place a lot of leaders and communications teams find themselves today – in a world that is tilting...
This Time It’s Personal: The New Challenge of Values-Driven Accountability for Organizations
July 12, 2018
It's surprising how quickly we forget the stunningly dramatic and painful events of the past 12 months. A quiet week or two makes it seem like the relationship between the public and the brands they care about has gone back to the way it used to be. But don't count on it. There is a...
Sustainability Reporting: 3 Takeaways to Incorporate the GRI Standards
April 10, 2018
Consumers, investors and many other key stakeholders increasingly expect companies to go beyond mandated regulations and to be actively working to solve environmental and societal issues. In his third annual letter, Black Rock CEO Larry Fink strongly emphasizes the need for the world’s largest companies to create long-term value by positively contributing to society. Issuing...
Best Practices for Engaging Employees in Cybersecurity
September 26, 2017
When companies take a check-the-box approach to educating and engaging their employees in their cybersecurity efforts, they make a critical mistep. More than half of all breaches can be linked to insiders. These mistakes can be costly to an organization’s reputation. FleishmanHillard’s 2017 Authenticity Gap Report shows 59 percent of consumers believe companies are not...
World’s Leading Companies Failing Authenticity Test
September 12, 2017
Nearly 300 companies all show a clear Authenticity Gap as consumers demand great corporate citizenship and a new definition of value There is a long list of worries and choices that keep senior executives awake at night. Most of them involve balancing business risks with the relentless pursuit of growth and high performance. Leaders who...
Companies Need to Plan for Handling a Cybersecurity Breach
April 6, 2017
Our shift to a digital society has seen the emergence of a new kind of crime: stealing data and attacking company networks, whether for financial gain, to send a political message, or sometimes simply to prove a point. Not surprisingly, this harsh reality of our digital economy has made cybersecurity a significant priority for organizations,...
The Asian Century: An opportunity for innovation over isolationism
February 27, 2017
In the words of Bob Dylan: The Times They Are A-Changin’. Last year delivered two historic changes in the West: Brexit and the election of President Trump. The implications for international tax, trade and immigration are great. But from the Asian perspective, it is doubtful that these changes are for the greater good. This new era...
What Is the Responsibility of an Organization for the Facts It Puts Into the Public Domain?
February 24, 2017
For the past 40 years, I would have expected to answer this question in this one sentence: “All audiences have a reasonable expectation that an organization is responsible for the facts it puts into the public domain.” For clarity, I might have added: “Expect facts to be questioned, and those that cannot be proven may...
Preparing Your CEO for the Role of Senior Statesman
December 6, 2016
There is a need for a stronger voice of leadership in the C-Suite, but many executives struggle to articulate how and why their business matters to society. As communicators, we must be better prepared to help guide these executives to tell the story beyond managing the company and articulate its relevance to society and the...