2018 Proxy Season Preview (Webinar On-Demand)

 

Webinar Overview

Our expert panel representing points of views of investors and advisers to issuers will preview the 2018 proxy season and provide participants insights into anticipated hot button issues, expected shareholder proposals, changes in proxy advisory firm policies, effects of the new SEC guidance on shareholder proposals, and trends in shareholder activism.  The panel discussion will answer these key questions:

  • What will be the hot button corporate governance issues this year?
  • What are the key shareholder proposals issues expected this year?
  • How will the SEC’s new guidance on shareholder proposals impact what types of shareholder proposals are submitted?
  • How will changes in proxy advisory firm policies affect issuers?
  • What are institutional investors focused on this year?
  • Will board diversity continue to be a hot button issue this year and what actions can we expect institutional investors to take to pressure companies to take action?
  • When will we see the first use of proxy access?
  • What’s the outlook for shareholder activism?

Moderator

Keith E. Gottfried
Partner & Shareholder Activism Defense Practice Leader
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Keith E. Gottfried, a corporate partner at the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and the leader of its market-leading shareholder activism defense practice. Morgan Lewis was recently ranked No. 3 among all law firms for legal defense of public companies against activist shareholders in the Thomson Reuters Global Shareholder Activism Scorecard for the 2016 full year (as of February 1, 2017), No. 2 in the Factset SharkRepellent 2016 full year activism defense league table (as of January 26, 2017) and No. 2 in the Activist Insight Magazine 2016 full year activist defense league table (as of December 5, 2016), in each case based on the number of publicly disclosed activist defense matters that Morgan Lewis has been involved in.  Over the course a legal career that spans almost 25 years, Keith has been involved in defending numerous public companies against high-profile proxy contests, special meeting demands, consent solicitations and unsolicited acquisition proposals. Frequently quoted by the national business media on issues relating to shareholder activism, Keith publishes and presents regularly on the strategies companies and their boards of directors can apply to make themselves less vulnerable to activist investors as well as strategies for shareholder engagement. Keith is listed in the 2017 edition of Chambers USA which ranks him as a leading corporate/M&A lawyer. As activist campaigns closely resemble political campaigns, Keith also brings to his activism defense clients substantial political insight gained as a U.S. Senate confirmed White House appointee in the administration of President George W. Bush. Keith holds a J.D. from the Boston University School of Law, an M.B.A. from the Boston University Questrom School of Business and a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

 

Panelists

Stephen L. Brown
Senior Advisor
KPMG Board Leadership Center

Stephen L. Brown, a Senior Advisor at KPMG Board Leadership Center, is a globally recognized governance expert, thought leader and trusted adviser to corporate boards and C-suites.  Mr. Brown founded The Edgerton Group, a boutique consulting firm that advises boards and management on critical corporate governance issues.  Formerly, he was the CEO of the Society of Corporate Governance.  Prior to the Society, he led the corporate governance group at TIAA.  Prior to TIAA, Mr. Brown practiced securities law at WilmerHale and Skadden and was an analyst with Goldman Sachs.  Named by NACD as one of the 100 most influential people in corporate governance and the boardroom, he is also an adjunct professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown, Yale College, and the Colin Powell School at CCNY.   Mr. Brown received his B.A. with honors from Yale and his J.D. from Columbia University Law School where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar.

 

Amy BorreusAmy Borrus
Deputy Director
Council of Institutional Investors

Amy Borrus plays a major role in developing CII policies on corporate governance and shareholder rights issues and in positioning the organization to achieve its strategic goals. She works closely with the Board of Directors and executive director to craft CII’s strategic plan and execute its mission, has responsibility for developing and planning CII conferences and speaks for CII at investor, corporate, academic and other forums. She leads CII’s efforts to communicate its positions effectively to members, other stakeholders, policymakers and the media. She also manages CII’s Proxy Voter Group, a forum for senior governance professionals at more than 75 leading institutional investor organizations, and staffs the CII board Audit Committee.

CII, founded in 1985, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association of public, union and corporate employee benefit funds and endowments with combined assets that exceed $3 trillion. CII’s has Associate (non-voting) Members include a range of asset managers with more than $20 trillion in assets under management. CII’s mission is to educate its members and the public about effective corporate governance, shareowner rights and related investment issues, and to advocate on its members’ behalf.

Before joining CII in 2006, Amy Borrus was a correspondent for BusinessWeek for 25 years. She researched, wrote and edited stories about business, finance, politics and other issues, from Washington, D.C., London and Tokyo.

She earned a B.A. in English and history from the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science and the Claritas Investment Certificate from the CFA Institute.

 

Mark HarnettMark H. Harnett
Founding Partner
Strategic Governance Advisors

Mark Harnett is a founding partner of Strategic Governance Advisors (“SGA”), which helps boards and executives secure shareholder support for a Company’s stated strategic objectives – especially in situations where building long term value may impact short term financial performance.

Formerly Managing Director of Sard Verbinnen, before joining SVC in 2015 Mark was co-founder and President of leading proxy solicitor MacKenzie Partners, where he amassed over 25 years of experience providing counsel on hundreds of proxy contests, tender offers and mergers.

He has deep expertise as the lead strategist on the timing and content of proxy campaigns; consulting and briefing corporate boards and CEOs; creating messaging for proxy campaigns; advising clients on the influence of ISS and Glass Lewis and forecasting vote outcomes; scheduling and accompanying clients on road shows to ISS and to all leading institutional, index and arbitrageur shareholders; and counseling company executives, boards and their attorneys on annual and special meeting scenarios.

 




#6 MOST-VIEWED EVENT in 2017: How the Trump Administration May Impact Shareholder Activism – Part II (Webinar On-Demand)

 

shareholder_640x480 on demand

Webinar Overview

As President Donald J. Trump continues to build out his administration, it remains far from clear how activists will fare under a Trump administration and whether a Trump administration will foster a climate that is more or less facilitative of shareholder activism.

On Thursday, February 16, 2017, CommPRO hosted a webinar, moderated by Keith Gottfried, leader of the Morgan Lewis shareholder activism defense practice and featuring a panel of professionals with experience in the shareholder activism and political arenas,  that will discuss how a Trump administration and its policies could impact the climate for shareholder activism, the types of campaigns that activists look to pursue and the companies and industries that are targeted.

Moderator

Gottfried_Keith_200x200

Keith E. Gottfried
Partner & Shareholder Activism Defense Practice Leader
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Keith E. Gottfried, a corporate partner with the global law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and the leader of its market-leading shareholder activism defense practice. Morgan Lewis was recently ranked No. 1 among all law firms for legal defense of public companies against activist shareholders in the Thomson Reuters Global Shareholder Activism Scorecard for the first half of 2016 (as of August 18, 2016), No. 2 in the Factset SharkRepellent 2016 year-to-date activism defense league table (as of January 26, 2017) and No. 2 in the Activist Insight Magazine activist defense league table (as of December 5, 2016), in each case based on the number of publicly disclosed activist defense matters that Morgan Lewis has been involved in. 

Over the course a legal career that spans almost 25 years, Keith has been involved in defending numerous public companies against high-profile proxy contests, special meeting demands, consent solicitations and unsolicited acquisition proposals. Frequently quoted by the national business media on issues relating to shareholder activism, Keith publishes and presents regularly on the strategies companies and their boards of directors can apply to make themselves less vulnerable to activist investors as well as strategies for shareholder engagement. Keith is listed in Chambers USA which ranks him as a leading corporate/M&A lawyer. As activist campaigns closely resemble political campaigns, Keith also brings to his activism defense clients substantial political insight gained as a U.S. Senate confirmed political appointee in the administration of President George W. Bush.

 

Panelists

StevenBallet200x200Steven Balet
Managing Director – Strategic Communications
FTI Consulting, Inc.

Steven Balet is a managing director in the FTI Consulting Strategic Communications segment and is based in New York. He is part of the Financial Communications and Capital Markets practices.

For the past 20 years Mr. Balet has advised public companies and hedge funds of all sizes on mergers & acquisitions, contested proxy campaigns and corporate governance issues. Mr. Balet’s experience includes providing strategic counsel to both corporates and dissidents in proxy contests all around the world.  He has also worked on many contested cross border mergers and acquisitions transactions.

Mr. Balet has extensive experience working with issuers to develop the most effective message for delivering the vote. He routinely counsels issuers on how to engage third party advisory groups such as Institutional Shareholder Services as well as providing background information on various activist stockholders and the techniques they employ. Mr. Balet has spoken on numerous panels discussing shareholder activism as it relates to both merger activism and board proxy fights.

Mr. Balet has been involved in some of the largest contested situations in the past decade including representing Sanofi-Synthelabo in their acquisition of Aventis, Rio Tinto in its defense of BHP Billiton’s hostile tender, and Oracle in its hostile acquisition of Peoplesoft. Most recently, Mr. Balet advised in tow large hostile defenses: Allergan in its defense against Pershing Square Capital Management and Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Perrigo Company in its defense against Mylan N.V.; and he currently advises Monsanto Company.

Mr. Balet joined FTI Consulting in April 2013. Prior to joining the company, Mr. Balet’s experience included 15 years at MacKenzie Partners, including three years as head of their London Office.

 

Stephen L. BrownStephen L. Brown
Senior Advisor
KPMG Board Leadership Center

Stephen L. Brown, a Senior Advisor at KPMG Board Leadership Center, is a globally recognized governance expert, thought leader and trusted adviser to corporate boards and C-suites.  Mr. Brown founded The Edgerton Group, a boutique consulting firm that advises boards and management on critical corporate governance issues.  Formerly, he was the CEO of the Society of Corporate Governance.  Prior to the Society, he led the corporate governance group at TIAA.  Prior to TIAA, Mr. Brown practiced securities law at WilmerHale and Skadden and was an analyst with Goldman Sachs.  Named by NACD as one of the 100 most influential people in corporate governance and the boardroom, he is also an adjunct professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown, Yale College, and the Colin Powell School at CCNY.   Mr. Brown received his B.A. with honors from Yale and his J.D. from Columbia University Law School where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar.

 

Arthur CrozierArthur B. Crozier
Chairman
Innisfree M&A Incorporated

Arthur B. Crozier, the Chairman of Innisfree M&A Incorporated of New York and of Lake Isle M&A Incorporated, Innisfree’s wholly-owned UK subsidiary. Art’s practice includes the representation of U.S. and international clients in a wide variety of transactions and proxy contests, as well as annual and special meetings. In addition, he counsels an international roster of clients on corporate governance and executive compensation issues. Art has written numerous articles and spoken extensively on the subjects of corporate governance, proxy contests, hedge fund activism, executive compensation and international voting practices.

 

 

DuncanHerrington200x200Duncan Herrington, CFA
Managing Director | Head of Activism Response & Contested Situations
Raymond James

Duncan Herrington is a Managing Director at Raymond James and the Head of its Activism Response and Contested Situations Practice. He previously served in Credit Suisse’s contested situations team, where he was responsible for advising both domestic and international clients on shareholder activism, takeover defense, contested M&A transactions and corporate governance matters. Prior to Credit Suisse, Mr. Herrington was an M&A lawyer based in the London office of Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, where he specialized in structuring and executing cross-border transactions. Combined, he has more than 12 years of investment banking and M&A experience with a specialty in advising on shareholder activism and other contested matters. Mr. Herrington holds a JD from Harvard Law School and an MBA from London Business School. A CFA charterholder and a member of the State Bar of California, Herrington is based in Raymond James’ New York office.

 

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#7 MOST-VIEWED EVENT in 2017: Strategies For Enhancing Board Diversity (Webinar On-Demand)

 

Webinar Overview

Numerous recent studies have confirmed that, while there has been some progress made in diversifying boards of directors, the progress has been slow and there remains much more work to be done in improving the level of women and minority membership on public company boards, particularly at public companies outside of the Fortune 100. Over the past year, a number of major institutional investors have taken steps to throw their weight behind the issue of board diversity. During the 2017 proxy season, one of the world’s largest index funds voted against the reelection of directors at 400 companies on grounds they failed to take steps to add women to their boards.

For this webinar, we have assembled a panel of veteran public company directors who have been at the forefront in contributing to the progress being made in enhancing board diversity to share their experiences and insights gained as a woman or minority director, why they believe board diversity is such a critical issue and what steps need to be taken to increase board diversity.

Moderator

Keith E. Gottfried
Partner & Shareholder Activism Defense Practice Leader
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Keith E. Gottfried, a corporate partner at the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and the leader of its market-leading shareholder activism defense practice. Morgan Lewis was recently ranked No. 3 among all law firms for legal defense of public companies against activist shareholders in the Thomson Reuters Global Shareholder Activism Scorecard for the 2016 full year (as of February 1, 2017), No. 2 in the Factset SharkRepellent 2016 full year activism defense league table (as of January 26, 2017) and No. 2 in the Activist Insight Magazine 2016 full year activist defense league table (as of December 5, 2016), in each case based on the number of publicly disclosed activist defense matters that Morgan Lewis has been involved in.  Over the course a legal career that spans almost 25 years, Keith has been involved in defending numerous public companies against high-profile proxy contests, special meeting demands, consent solicitations and unsolicited acquisition proposals. Frequently quoted by the national business media on issues relating to shareholder activism, Keith publishes and presents regularly on the strategies companies and their boards of directors can apply to make themselves less vulnerable to activist investors as well as strategies for shareholder engagement. Keith is listed in the 2017 edition of Chambers USA which ranks him as a leading corporate/M&A lawyer. As activist campaigns closely resemble political campaigns, Keith also brings to his activism defense clients substantial political insight gained as a U.S. Senate confirmed White House appointee in the administration of President George W. Bush. Keith holds a J.D. from the Boston University School of Law, an M.B.A. from the Boston University Questrom School of Business and a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

 

Panelists

Susan M. Angele
Senior Advisor
KPMG Board Leadership Center

As a former Fortune 500 executive and an expert in board governance, Susan is a frequent writer and speaker on topics of importance to corporate directors in her role as Senior Advisor, KPMG Board Leadership Center. The Board Leadership Center engages with directors and business leaders to help articulate their challenges and promote continuous improvement, by delivering insights and practical thought leadership – on risk and strategy, talent and technology, globalization and compliance, financial reporting and more, all through a board lens. Prior to KPMG, in roles including Vice President, Global Deputy General Counsel at The Hershey Company and Chief Counsel, US Snacks at Mondelez (then a $5billion division of Kraft/Nabisco), she provided legal and business advice and led initiatives that protected value and enabled sustainable, global growth of some of the world’s most famous and best-loved brands.

Susan is a member of Women Corporate Directors and a NACD (National Association of Corporate Directors) Board Leadership Fellow. She is a graduate of Columbia University School of Law and Sarah Lawrence College.

 

Francis H. Bryd
Principal
Bryd Governance Advisory

Francis Byrd has 20 years of experience in the corporate governance and ESG fields possessing a wide perspective on the goals and motivations of institutional investors and corporate issuers. Francis has held responsible positions with top institutional investors (TIAA, the Connecticut Retirement Plans & Trust Funds and the NYC Pension Funds); assessed governance quality at North Americas largest companies on behalf of bondholders and creditors (at Moody’s Investors’ Service) and advised corporate public issuers on how to respond to and engage with activist investors,
ESG advocates, shareholder proponents and proxy advisor firms (at proxy solicitation/shareholder communications firms The Altman Group and Laurel Hill Advisory). In 2014 and 2010, NACD Directorship identified Francis as a D-100 governance professional and one of a group of 30 “People To Watch”, respectively.

As Principal of Byrd Governance Advisory, Francis provides strategic advice on shareholder communications, engagement strategy and investor relations to corporate issuers. As Senior Consultant for Integrated Compliance Solutions Group LLC, Francis works with ICS Group’s corporate, pension plans and investment advisory clients to assess internal governance policies. As a Consultant with TOP Capital Advisors (TCA), Francis assists the firm’s private equity clients with the preparation of due diligence, private placement memorandums and marketing materials used in presentations to institutional investors. In addition, Francis provides strategic input relating to corporate governance matters and ESG disclosure.

 

Celeste A. Clark, PhD.
Principal
Abraham Clark Consulting  LLC

Dr. Celeste A. Clark served as a senior executive of Kellogg Company where she was a member of the Global Executive Management Team, and had an accomplished career spanning nearly 35 years in the food industry. She was responsible for leading the development and implementation of health, nutrition and regulatory science initiatives globally. In addition, she also led the global functions of corporate communications, public affairs, sustainability, philanthropy and several administrative areas.

Dr. Clark served as President, Kellogg Corporate Citizenship Fund, the company’s philanthropic entity. In this capacity, she was responsible for providing grants that aligned with business objectives in the communities served by Kellogg globally. Corporate reputation management and corporate social responsibility (CSR) were integral to the work performed. She also served as Chief Sustainability Officer, and worked closely with the company’s operational team to help ensure that the sourcing, manufacturing and distribution of food products were aligned with the efficient use of environmental resources.

Dr. Clark has board governance experience in both publicly- and privately-held companies, and in non-profit organizations. She served as a director of the Mead Johnson Nutrition Company, until its acquisition in 2017 by Reckitt Benckiser where she served on the Nominating and Governance, Compliance and Risk, Nutrition Science and Technology, and Audit Committees; AdvancePierre Foods, until its acquisition in 2017 where she chaired Corporate Nominating and Governance, and served as a member of  the Audit, and Transaction Committees. Dr. Clark also served as a director of Diamond Foods, Inc., and was a member of the Nominating and Governance, and Compensation Committees until the company’s acquisition by Synder’s-Lance, Inc. in 2016. She currently serves on the boards of Omega Protein, Inc. where she is a member of the Nominating and Governance, and Compensation Committees; and privately-held AAA Michigan, where she serves on the Nominating and Governance  Committee; and Kate Farms, Inc.  Dr. Clark is a trustee of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and is engaged in non-profit work both domestically and internationally to improve the lives and outcomes for vulnerable children and their families. She is the principal of Abraham Clark Consulting, LLC and consults on nutrition and health policy, regulatory affairs, and leadership development.

Dr. Clark serves as adjunct professor at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. She is also an invited guest lecturer/speaker at other universities on food and health policy, leadership development, and philanthropy. Dr. Clark has been recognized with numerous awards and professional accomplishments. She is a member of several professional organizations and is engaged with various civic organizations in her community.

 

Honorable Nelson A. Diaz
Partner
Dilworth Paxson LLP

Hon. Nelson Diaz, a partner at the law firm of Dilworth Paxson LLP. Judge Diaz served on the Board of Directors of Exelon Corporation from 2004 to 2015, Previously, he served as the City Solicitor for the City of Philadelphia from December 2001 through January 2004, and Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, First Judicial District of Pennsylvania (1981-1993), where he served as Administrative Judge responsible for supervising judges and staff and managing the budget. Judge Diaz also served as General Counsel, United States Department of Housing and Urban Affairs (1993-1997). Judge Diaz has also served as a director of the Philadelphia Electric Company (PECO) and served as Chairman of the board of trustees of Paradigm Multi Strategy Fund I, LLC. Judge Diaz is a Trustee of Temple University.

 




2017 Proxy Season Recap (Webinar On-Demand)

Webinar Overview

Now that the 2017 proxy season is over, our expert panel returns to provide their insights on key votes, trends in shareholder activism, and lessons learned that will be useful for the proxy “off-season” and 2018.  The panel discussion will answer these key questions:

  • What were the key shareholder proposals issues this year?
  • How did institutional investors view differently ESG-related proposals this season?
  • How will institutional investors view vote outcomes this season?
  • Are there any new trends emerging in shareholder engagement?
  • What’s the outlook for shareholder activism going forward?
  • What are some of the lessons learned that will help companies prepare for 2018?

Moderator

Stephen L. BrownStephen L. Brown
Senior Advisor
KPMG Board Leadership Center

Stephen L. Brown, a Senior Advisor at KPMG Board Leadership Center, is a globally recognized governance expert, thought leader and trusted adviser to corporate boards and C-suites.  Mr. Brown founded The Edgerton Group, a boutique consulting firm that advises boards and management on critical corporate governance issues.  Formerly, he was the CEO of the Society of Corporate Governance.  Prior to the Society, he led the corporate governance group at TIAA.  Prior to TIAA, Mr. Brown practiced securities law at WilmerHale and Skadden and was an analyst with Goldman Sachs.  Named by NACD as one of the 100 most influential people in corporate governance and the boardroom, he is also an adjunct professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown, Yale College, and the Colin Powell School at CCNY.   Mr. Brown received his B.A. with honors from Yale and his J.D. from Columbia University Law School where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar.

Panel

Amy BorreusAmy Borrus
Deputy Director
Council of Institutional Investors

Amy Borrus plays a major role in developing CII policies on corporate governance and shareholder rights issues and in positioning the organization to achieve its strategic goals. She works closely with the Board of Directors and executive director to craft CII’s strategic plan and execute its mission, has responsibility for developing and planning CII conferences and speaks for CII at investor, corporate, academic and other forums. She leads CII’s efforts to communicate its positions effectively to members, other stakeholders, policymakers and the media. She also manages CII’s Proxy Voter Group, a forum for senior governance professionals at more than 75 leading institutional investor organizations, and staffs the CII board Audit Committee.

CII, founded in 1985, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association of public, union and corporate employee benefit funds and endowments with combined assets that exceed $3 trillion. CII’s has Associate (non-voting) Members include a range of asset managers with more than $20 trillion in assets under management. CII’s mission is to educate its members and the public about effective corporate governance, shareowner rights and related investment issues, and to advocate on its members’ behalf.

Before joining CII in 2006, Amy Borrus was a correspondent for BusinessWeek for 25 years. She researched, wrote and edited stories about business, finance, politics and other issues, from Washington, D.C., London and Tokyo.

She earned a B.A. in English and history from the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science and the Claritas Investment Certificate from the CFA Institute.

 

Gottfried_Keith_74159_4x5Keith E. Gottfried
Partner & Shareholder Activism Defense Practice Leader
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Keith E. Gottfried is a corporate partner with the global law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and the leader of its market-leading shareholder activism defense practice. Morgan Lewis was recently ranked No. 3 among all law firms for legal defense of public companies against activist shareholders in the Thomson Reuters Global Shareholder Activism Scorecard for the 2016 full year (as of February 1, 2017), No. 2 in the Factset SharkRepellent 2016 full year activism defense league table (as of January 26, 2017) and No. 2 in the Activist Insight Magazine 2016 full year activist defense league table (as of December 5, 2016), in each case based on the number of publicly disclosed activist defense matters that Morgan Lewis has been involved in. 

Over the course a legal career that spans almost 25 years, Keith has been involved in defending numerous public companies against high-profile proxy contests, special meeting demands, consent solicitations and unsolicited acquisition proposals. Frequently quoted by the national business media on issues relating to shareholder activism, Keith publishes and presents regularly on the strategies companies and their boards of directors can apply to make themselves less vulnerable to activist investors as well as strategies for shareholder engagement. Keith is listed in the 2017 edition of Chambers USA which ranks him as a leading corporate/M&A lawyer. As activist campaigns closely resemble political campaigns, Keith also brings to his activism defense clients substantial political insight gained as a U.S. Senate confirmed White House appointee in the administration of President George W. Bush.

Keith holds a J.D. from the Boston University School of Law, an M.B.A. from the Boston University Questrom School of Business and a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

 

Mark HarnettMark H. Harnett
Founding Partner
Strategic Governance Advisors

Mark Harnett is a founding partner of Strategic Governance Advisors (“SGA”), which helps boards and executives secure shareholder support for a Company’s stated strategic objectives – especially in situations where building long term value may impact short term financial performance.

Formerly Managing Director of Sard Verbinnen, before joining SVC in 2015 Mark was co-founder and President of leading proxy solicitor MacKenzie Partners, where he amassed over 25 years of experience providing counsel on hundreds of proxy contests, tender offers and mergers.

He has deep expertise as the lead strategist on the timing and content of proxy campaigns; consulting and briefing corporate boards and CEOs; creating messaging for proxy campaigns; advising clients on the influence of ISS and Glass Lewis and forecasting vote outcomes; scheduling and accompanying clients on road shows to ISS and to all leading institutional, index and arbitrageur shareholders; and counseling company executives, boards and their attorneys on annual and special meeting scenarios.

 

REGISTER NOW




2017 Proxy Season Preview (Webinar On-Demand)

 

KPMG_640x480 on demand

Webinar Overview

Our expert panel representing points of views of investors and advisers to issuers will provide participants insights into expected shareholder proposals, and trends in shareholder activism and shareholder engagement strategies.  The panel discussion will answer these key questions:

  • What are the key shareholder proposals issues this year?
  • Compared to prior years, will institutional investors view differently ESG-related proposals?
  • How will institutional investors view vote outcomes this season?
  • What are the trends in shareholder engagement?
  • What’s the outlook for shareholder activism?
  • Will the activist playbook differ in 2017 compared to prior years?
  • Will companies respond to activists differently than prior years?

Moderator

Stephen L. BrownStephen L. Brown
Senior Advisor
KPMG Board Leadership Center

Stephen L. Brown, a Senior Advisor at KPMG Board Leadership Center, is a globally recognized governance expert, thought leader and trusted adviser to corporate boards and C-suites.  Mr. Brown founded The Edgerton Group, a boutique consulting firm that advises boards and management on critical corporate governance issues.  Formerly, he was the CEO of the Society of Corporate Governance.  Prior to the Society, he led the corporate governance group at TIAA.  Prior to TIAA, Mr. Brown practiced securities law at WilmerHale and Skadden and was an analyst with Goldman Sachs.  Named by NACD as one of the 100 most influential people in corporate governance and the boardroom, he is also an adjunct professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown, Yale College, and the Colin Powell School at CCNY.   Mr. Brown received his B.A. with honors from Yale and his J.D. from Columbia University Law School where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar.

Panel

Amy BorreusAmy Borrus
Deputy Director
Council of Institutional Investors

Amy Borrus plays a major role in developing CII policies on corporate governance and shareholder rights issues and in positioning the organization to achieve its strategic goals. She works closely with the Board of Directors and executive director to craft CII’s strategic plan and execute its mission, has responsibility for developing and planning CII conferences and speaks for CII at investor, corporate, academic and other forums. She leads CII’s efforts to communicate its positions effectively to members, other stakeholders, policymakers and the media. She also manages CII’s Proxy Voter Group, a forum for senior governance professionals at more than 75 leading institutional investor organizations, and staffs the CII board Audit Committee.

CII, founded in 1985, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association of public, union and corporate employee benefit funds and endowments with combined assets that exceed $3 trillion. CII’s has Associate (non-voting) Members include a range of asset managers with more than $20 trillion in assets under management. CII’s mission is to educate its members and the public about effective corporate governance, shareowner rights and related investment issues, and to advocate on its members’ behalf.

Before joining CII in 2006, Amy Borrus was a correspondent for BusinessWeek for 25 years. She researched, wrote and edited stories about business, finance, politics and other issues, from Washington, D.C., London and Tokyo.

She earned a B.A. in English and history from the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science and the Claritas Investment Certificate from the CFA Institute.

 

Gottfried_Keith_74159_4x5Keith E. Gottfried
Partner & Shareholder Activism Defense Practice Leader
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Keith E. Gottfried, a corporate partner with the global law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and the leader of its market-leading shareholder activism defense practice. Morgan Lewis was recently ranked No. 3 among all law firms for legal defense of public companies against activist shareholders in the Thomson Reuters Global Shareholder Activism Scorecard for the 2016 full year (as of February 1, 2017), No. 2 in the Factset SharkRepellent 2016 full year activism defense league table (as of January 26, 2017) and No. 2 in the Activist Insight Magazine 2016 full year activist defense league table (as of December 5, 2016), in each case based on the number of publicly disclosed activist defense matters that Morgan Lewis has been involved in.

Over the course a legal career that spans almost 25 years, Keith has been involved in defending numerous public companies against high-profile proxy contests, special meeting demands, consent solicitations and unsolicited acquisition proposals. Frequently quoted by the national business media on issues relating to shareholder activism, Keith publishes and presents regularly on the strategies companies and their boards of directors can apply to make themselves less vulnerable to activist investors as well as strategies for shareholder engagement. Keith is listed in Chambers USA which ranks him as a leading corporate/M&A lawyer. As activist campaigns closely resemble political campaigns, Keith also brings to his activism defense clients substantial political insight gained as a U.S. Senate confirmed political appointee in the administration of President George W. Bush.

 

Mark HarnettMark H. Harnett
Founding Partner
Strategic Governance Advisors

Mark Harnett is a founding partner of Strategic Governance Advisors (“SGA”), which helps boards and executives secure shareholder support for a Company’s stated strategic objectives – especially in situations where building long term value may impact short term financial performance.

Formerly Managing Director of Sard Verbinnen, before joining SVC in 2015 Mark was co-founder and President of leading proxy solicitor MacKenzie Partners, where he amassed over 25 years of experience providing counsel on hundreds of proxy contests, tender offers and mergers.

He has deep expertise as the lead strategist on the timing and content of proxy campaigns; consulting and briefing corporate boards and CEOs; creating messaging for proxy campaigns; advising clients on the influence of ISS and Glass Lewis and forecasting vote outcomes; scheduling and accompanying clients on road shows to ISS and to all leading institutional, index and arbitrageur shareholders; and counseling company executives, boards and their attorneys on annual and special meeting scenarios.

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How A Trump Presidency May Impact Shareholder Activism (Webinar On-Demand)

trumppresidency640x480ondemand

Webinar Overview 

With less than sixty days remaining until a new U.S. president is inaugurated and a new administration takes over the executive branch of the U.S. government, it remains far from clear how activists will fare under a Trump administration and whether a Trump administration will foster a climate that is more or less friendly to shareholder activism.

For this webinar, we have assembled a panel that combines experts from the political and shareholder activism arenas to discuss how a Trump administration and its policies could impact the climate for shareholder activism, the types of campaigns that activists look to pursue and the companies and industries that are targeted.

Moderator

Gottfried_Keith_200x200

Keith E. Gottfried
Partner & Shareholder Activism Defense Practice Leader
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Keith E. Gottfried, a corporate partner with the global law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and the leader of its market-leading shareholder activism defense practice. Morgan Lewis was recently ranked No. 1 among all law firms for legal defense of public companies against activist shareholders, both in the Thomson Reuters Global Shareholder Activism Scorecard for the first half of 2016 and in the Factset SharkRepellent 2016 year-to-date activism defense league table. Over the course a legal career that spans almost 25 years, Keith has been involved in defending numerous public companies against high-profile proxy contests, special meeting demands, consent solicitations and unsolicited acquisition proposals. Frequently quoted by the national business media on issues relating to shareholder activism, Keith publishes and presents regularly on the strategies companies and their boards of directors can apply to make themselves less vulnerable to activist investors as well as strategies for shareholder engagement. Keith is listed in Chambers USA which ranks him as a leading corporate/M&A lawyer. As activist campaigns closely resemble political campaigns, Keith also brings to his activism defense clients substantial political insight gained as a U.S. Senate confirmed political appointee in the administration of President George W. Bush.

 

Panelists

StevenBallet200x200Steven Balet
Managing Director – Strategic Communications
FTI Consulting, Inc.

Steven Balet is a managing director in the FTI Consulting Strategic Communications segment and is based in New York. He is part of the Financial Communications and Capital Markets practices.

For the past 20 years Mr. Balet has advised public companies and hedge funds of all sizes on mergers & acquisitions, contested proxy campaigns and corporate governance issues. Mr. Balet’s experience includes providing strategic counsel to both corporates and dissidents in proxy contests all around the world.  He has also worked on many contested cross border mergers and acquisitions transactions.

Mr. Balet has extensive experience working with issuers to develop the most effective message for delivering the vote. He routinely counsels issuers on how to engage third party advisory groups such as Institutional Shareholder Services as well as providing background information on various activist stockholders and the techniques they employ. Mr. Balet has spoken on numerous panels discussing shareholder activism as it relates to both merger activism and board proxy fights.

Mr. Balet has been involved in some of the largest contested situations in the past decade including representing Sanofi-Synthelabo in their acquisition of Aventis, Rio Tinto in its defense of BHP Billiton’s hostile tender, and Oracle in its hostile acquisition of Peoplesoft. Most recently, Mr. Balet advised in tow large hostile defenses: Allergan in its defense against Pershing Square Capital Management and Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Perrigo Company in its defense against Mylan N.V.; and he currently advises Monsanto Company.

Mr. Balet joined FTI Consulting in April 2013. Prior to joining the company, Mr. Balet’s experience included 15 years at MacKenzie Partners, including three years as head of their London Office.

 

StephenBrown200x200Stephen L. Brown
Senior Advisor
KPMG Board Leadership Center

Stephen L. Brown, a Senior Advisor at KPMG Board Leadership Center, is a globally recognized governance expert, thought leader and trusted adviser to corporate boards and C-suites.  Mr. Brown founded The Edgerton Group, a boutique consulting firm that advises boards and management on critical corporate governance issues.  Formerly, he was the CEO of the Society of Corporate Governance.  Prior to the Society, he led the corporate governance group at TIAA.  Prior to TIAA, Mr. Brown practiced securities law at WilmerHale and Skadden and was an analyst with Goldman Sachs.  Named by NACD as one of the 100 most influential people in corporate governance and the boardroom, he is also an adjunct professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown, Yale College, and the Colin Powell School at CCNY.   Mr. Brown received his B.A. with honors from Yale and his J.D. from Columbia University Law School where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar.

 

Arthur CrozierArthur B. Crozier
Chairman
Innisfree M&A Incorporated

Arthur B. Crozier, the Chairman of Innisfree M&A Incorporated of New York and of Lake Isle M&A Incorporated, Innisfree’s wholly-owned UK subsidiary. Art’s practice includes the representation of U.S. and international clients in a wide variety of transactions and proxy contests, as well as annual and special meetings. In addition, he counsels an international roster of clients on corporate governance and executive compensation issues. Art has written numerous articles and spoken extensively on the subjects of corporate governance, proxy contests, hedge fund activism, executive compensation and international voting practices.

 

 

daniel-kersteinDaniel Kerstein
Managing Director M&A
Global Head of Strategic Finance Group
Barclays

Daniel is the Global Head of Barclays’ M&A Strategic Finance Group. He is based in the New York office and directs teams in New York and London.  Strategic Finance is responsible for delivering strategic advice to the firm’s corporate clients with regards to shareholder activism and defensive situations.  The group works closely with management teams and Boards of Directors to prepare for and defend against the involvement of activist investors.  Notable engagements include the defense and financial advisory to Hertz, defense and capital structure advisory to Juniper Networks, and defense and financial advisory to Axiall.

Daniel joined Barclays from Lehman Brothers in 2008 and was previously the head of the Product Development Group, where he assisted on structuring the IPOs of several alternative asset managers, including Blackstone and Fortress.  Prior to joining Lehman Brothers, Daniel was a Vice President in Corporate Finance at Merrill Lynch, where he worked on and developed a number of convertible bondproducts, including contingent convertible and contingent payment bonds.

Daniel has a B.A. in English Literature from Queens College and J.D. from Harvard Law School.

 

 

andrewr200Andrew S. Ricci
Vice President
LEVICK

Andrew S. Ricci, a Vice President at LEVICK, a Washington, DC based communications and public affairs firm. Andrew is an experienced media relations expert, content-creation specialist, and public affairs strategist who helps brands, organizations, companies, and foreign governments tell their story to the audiences that matter and in a way that maximizes impact. Prior to joining LEVICK, Andrew served as a senior communications aide to Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio) in his Capitol Hill office and during the reelection campaign. He developed the overall communications strategy and messaging; produced all written materials; engaged national, state, and local media; and served as the Congressman’s official spokesman. He also served as an aide to Rep. Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.).

 

 Join us for this important event…

Presented by:

morganlewis_logo




Election Season Special Webinar: Shareholder Activism Viewed As A Political Campaign (On-Demand Recording)

election-and-shareholder-activism-on-demand-recording 

 

Webinar Overview

There are now less than 50 days left to U.S. election day, Tuesday November 8, 2016, the day that a new U.S. president will be elected. As one of the most interesting presidential election cycles in this history of the U.S. winds down, the media is replete with news and analysis regarding the political campaigns being waged by the two principal contenders for the U.S. presidency. Coincidentally, at the same time as the U.S. presidential election season comes to a close, the 2016 proxy season, which included 230 campaigns by activist investors, will also be close to winding down.

During the course of the most recent presidential election cycle, CommPRO has provided our site visitors with extensive content related to both the pending U.S. presidential election contest and the past year’s activist investor campaigns. In our continuing effort to provide new and exciting content for our site visitors, and given that we are in the home stretch of election season, the editors at CommPRO thought we should do something different that would be timely and of great interest to our site visitors.

In this webinar, we will focus on the numerous parallels between an activist investor campaign that seeks to replace one or more members of a public company’s board of directors with a political election campaign, such as the pending presidential election contest. Some of the similarities between an activist investor campaign and a political campaign are striking as an activist campaign is ultimately about “winning the hearts and minds” of as many voting shareholders as possible and the support of key voting blocks, including those that follow the recommendations of the major proxy advisory firms, and many of the strategies and tactics followed in political and activist investor campaigns are very similar. In both types of campaigns, messaging and media play significant roles as does opposition research, third party endorsements, pre-vetting of candidates, ability of candidates to engage with voters, balancing of the slate to appeal to different constituencies, “dog-whistle” politics, voting projections, attacks on the incumbent, platforms based on calls for change, rapid response teams, voter outreach and understanding the voting blocks that are in play versus those that are committed or expected to vote a certain way (e.g., in presidential campaigns, recall the notion of “red” and “blue” states).

For this webinar, we have assembled a panel that combines experts from the political and shareholder activism arenas. We also have as our moderator someone who not only has extensive experience in the shareholder activism arena but also, as a former high-level White House appointee, has substantial insight into the political world as well.

Moderator

Gottfried_Keith_200x200

Keith E. Gottfried
Partner & Shareholder Activism Defense Practice Leader
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Keith E. Gottfried, a corporate partner with the global law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and the leader of its market-leading shareholder activism defense practice. Morgan Lewis was recently ranked No. 1 among all law firms for legal defense of public companies against activist shareholders, both in the Thomson Reuters Global Shareholder Activism Scorecard for the first half of 2016 and in the Factset SharkRepellent 2016 year-to-date activism defense league table. Over the course a legal career that spans almost 25 years, Keith has been involved in defending numerous public companies against high-profile proxy contests, special meeting demands, consent solicitations and unsolicited acquisition proposals. Frequently quoted by the national business media on issues relating to shareholder activism, Keith publishes and presents regularly on the strategies companies and their boards of directors can apply to make themselves less vulnerable to activist investors as well as strategies for shareholder engagement. Keith is listed in Chambers USA which ranks him as a leading corporate/M&A lawyer. As activist campaigns closely resemble political campaigns, Keith also brings to his activism defense clients substantial political insight gained as a U.S. Senate confirmed political appointee in the administration of President George W. Bush.

 

Panelists

StevenBallet200x200Steven Balet
Managing Director – Strategic Communications
FTI Consulting, Inc.

Steven Balet is a managing director in the FTI Consulting Strategic Communications segment and is based in New York. He is part of the Financial Communications and Capital Markets practices.

For the past 20 years Mr. Balet has advised public companies and hedge funds of all sizes on mergers & acquisitions, contested proxy campaigns and corporate governance issues. Mr. Balet’s experience includes providing strategic counsel to both corporates and dissidents in proxy contests all around the world.  He has also worked on many contested cross border mergers and acquisitions transactions.

Mr. Balet has extensive experience working with issuers to develop the most effective message for delivering the vote. He routinely counsels issuers on how to engage third party advisory groups such as Institutional Shareholder Services as well as providing background information on various activist stockholders and the techniques they employ. Mr. Balet has spoken on numerous panels discussing shareholder activism as it relates to both merger activism and board proxy fights.

Mr. Balet has been involved in some of the largest contested situations in the past decade including representing Sanofi-Synthelabo in their acquisition of Aventis, Rio Tinto in its defense of BHP Billiton’s hostile tender, and Oracle in its hostile acquisition of Peoplesoft. Most recently, Mr. Balet advised in tow large hostile defenses: Allergan in its defense against Pershing Square Capital Management and Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Perrigo Company in its defense against Mylan N.V.; and he currently advises Monsanto Company.

Mr. Balet joined FTI Consulting in April 2013. Prior to joining the company, Mr. Balet’s experience included 15 years at MacKenzie Partners, including three years as head of their London Office.

 

StephenBrown200x200Stephen L. Brown
Senior Advisor
KPMG Board Leadership Center

Stephen L. Brown, a Senior Advisor at KPMG Board Leadership Center, is a globally recognized governance expert, thought leader and trusted adviser to corporate boards and C-suites.  Mr. Brown founded The Edgerton Group, a boutique consulting firm that advises boards and management on critical corporate governance issues.  Formerly, he was the CEO of the Society of Corporate Governance.  Prior to the Society, he led the corporate governance group at TIAA.  Prior to TIAA, Mr. Brown practiced securities law at WilmerHale and Skadden and was an analyst with Goldman Sachs.  Named by NACD as one of the 100 most influential people in corporate governance and the boardroom, he is also an adjunct professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown, Yale College, and the Colin Powell School at CCNY.   Mr. Brown received his B.A. with honors from Yale and his J.D. from Columbia University Law School where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar.

 

Arthur CrozierArthur B. Crozier
Chairman
Innisfree M&A Incorporated

Arthur B. Crozier, the Chairman of Innisfree M&A Incorporated of New York and of Lake Isle M&A Incorporated, Innisfree’s wholly-owned UK subsidiary. Art’s practice includes the representation of U.S. and international clients in a wide variety of transactions and proxy contests, as well as annual and special meetings. In addition, he counsels an international roster of clients on corporate governance and executive compensation issues. Art has written numerous articles and spoken extensively on the subjects of corporate governance, proxy contests, hedge fund activism, executive compensation and international voting practices.

 

 

DuncanHerrington200x200Duncan Herrington
Vice President | M&A, Contested Situations
Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC

Duncan Herrington, CFA, a Vice President in Credit Suisse’s Contested Situations practice, is responsible for advising clients on shareholder activism, takeover defense, contested M&A transactions and corporate governance matters.  According to Thomson Reuters’ Global Shareholder Activism Scoreboard, for the first half of 2016 Credit Suisse was the top financial advisor globally to companies defending against activist campaigns.  Prior to joining Credit Suisse in 2010, Duncan was an M&A lawyer at Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, based in its London office, where he specialized in structuring and executing cross-border transactions.  Combined he has over 10 years of transactional experience, with a specialty in contested situations.  Duncan holds a JD from Harvard Law School and an MBA from London Business School.

 

andrewr200Andrew S. Ricci
Vice President
LEVICK

Andrew S. Ricci, a Vice President at LEVICK, a Washington, DC based communications and public affairs firm. Andrew is an experienced media relations expert, content-creation specialist, and public affairs strategist who helps brands, organizations, companies, and foreign governments tell their story to the audiences that matter and in a way that maximizes impact. Prior to joining LEVICK, Andrew served as a senior communications aide to Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio) in his Capitol Hill office and during the reelection campaign. He developed the overall communications strategy and messaging; produced all written materials; engaged national, state, and local media; and served as the Congressman’s official spokesman. He also served as an aide to Rep. Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.).

 

REGISTER NOW




Sneak Preview: How Shareholder Activism Is Affecting The 2016 Proxy Season (ON-DEMAND RECORDING)

ProxSeason-On-Demand

Webinar Overview

In 2015, there were 375 activist campaigns against public companies according to the research firm FactSet. As 2016 marches forward, and activists begin to run up against the advance notice of nomination deadlines that most public companies have in place, we are starting to see that 2016 will likely rival, if not exceed, 2015 in the number of activist campaigns that are expected to be waged. What remains to be seen is how activist campaigns and company responses will be different in 2016 compared to 2015.

Key questions to be answered:

  • How will the activist playbook differ in 2016 compared to 2015?
  • Have activists become sophisticated in their ideas for value enhancement?
  • Will companies respond to activists differently than last year?
  • Are companies engaging more with activists than in years past?
  • Will the trend of more large caps being targeted continue?
  • Will we continue to see more than a majority of activist campaigns end in a settlement?
  • Will companies be emboldened to fight by last year’s victory by DuPont in its proxy contest?
  • Will we see more situations where multiple activists target the same company?
  • Is activism evolving into a year-round activity that extends way past proxy season?
  • Will activists continue to receive significant support from institutional investors?
  • How will the significant losses that some hedge funds suffered in 2015 affect activism activity in 2016?
  • How much money do we expect to flow into activist funds in 2016?

For this webinar, hosted by CommPro.biz Contributing Editor Gene Marbach, we have assembled a panel of shareholder activism experts, all of whom bring to the discussion extensive experience in advising both large-cap and small-cap companies on how to prepare for and respond to shareholder activists and the campaigns they may wage.

Our Panel

 

Dan's Headshot 2Daniel H. Burch, the Co-Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Mackenzie Partners, Inc., one of the country’s leading and most well-known proxy solicitation firms. Dan develops strategies and campaigns for clients involved in proxy contests, tender offers, mergers, financial restructuring and other complex corporate transactions.  Dan’s particular focus is on advising clients on shareholder activism and corporate governance matters and is a veteran of numerous proxy contests.  For close to three decades, Dan has led MacKenzie’s efforts on behalf of its clients in campaigns in North America and Europe. Dan is a member of the Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals and the National Investor Relations Institute.

 

 

 

 

Gottfried_Keith_74159_4x5Keith E. Gottfried, a Partner with the global law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and the leader of its very busy shareholder activism defense practice. For 2014 and 2015, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP was ranked No. 5 among law firms in the year-end league tables for legal defense of companies against activist shareholders that are compiled by FactSet SharkRepellent. Keith concentrates his practice advising public companies and their boards of directors and special committees on such matters as proxy contests, activist shareholder campaigns, unsolicited offers and other contested control situations.  Over the course a legal career that spans almost 25 years, he has been involved in defending numerous public companies against proxy contests, consent solicitations and unsolicited acquisition proposals.

 

 

 

maureen-wolffMaureen T. Wolff, the President & Partner of Sharon Merrill, an investor relations strategic advisory firm focused on counseling clients on critical communications that resonate with stakeholders and deliver desired results in virtually any situation an enterprise may confront. Practice areas include investor relations, crisis communications, transaction communications, reputation and issues management, and presentation and media training. A national thought leader in investor relations and corporate communications, Maureen is a trusted advisor to CEOs, CFOs and boards of directors on critical communications issues related to corporate governance, shareholder activism and proxy contests, and Regulation FD. She is a past chairman and board member of the National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI), a member of the Senior IR Roundtable and vice chairman of NIRI’s IR Certification committee. 

 

 

Our Host

genemarbach150x150Gene Marbach, a CommPro.biz Contributing Editor. Gene focuses on communications and business-related topics with insights informed by his more than 30 years of experience in investor relations and corporate communications, most recently as group vice president at Makovsky + Company, an investor relations and public relations firm. Gene is a prolific commentator on issues relating to investor relations and corporate communications and a frequent speaker and moderator at webinars and seminars focused on best practices in investor relations and corporate communications as well as evolving practices such as the use of social media to communicate with investors, whether in the context of a company’s routine quarterly earnings announcements or less routine events such as planning for an IPO, responding to an activist shareholder, executing an M&A strategy or responding to a crisis.

 

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What’s Next in Advocacy and Government Communications?

Free Webcast

November 9, 2021, 5 PM ET

Hosted by: The George Washington University

Master’s in Strategic Public Relations

 

What's Next in Advocacy and Government Communications?

EVENT OVERVIEW

When senior executives turn to communications staff for guidance and counsel, are Millennial and Gen Z professionals answering the call differently? Issues including environmental stewardship, data privacy, and social impact and corporate social responsibility are increasingly taking center stage as public policy challenges. Join us for a candid conversation about the challenges and opportunities ahead for young people seeking careers in advocacy and government communications. 

Hear from a talented panel who are shaping how internal and external stakeholder communication responds.  The panel will share how they have built their careers as advocates for change and as public servants and get their advice on how you can follow a similar path. 

The GWU Strategic PR program and CommPRO are pleased to offer this opportunity for you to learn from these young professionals and ask them questions about work, grad school and career planning.

Register now to hold your place.

HOST:

Lawrence J. Parnell, M.B.A., Associate Professor and director of the George Washington University Master’s in Strategic Public Relations program

MODERATOR:

Troy Blackwell, Jr., Founder & CEO, Ready for Change

PANELISTS:

SPECIAL GUEST:

Scott Thomsen, President of the National Association of Government Communicators

ABOUT OUR SPEAKERS

Lawrence J. Parnell, M.B.A. (HOST)

Lawrence J. Parnell, M.B.A. is an award winning Public Relations professional and academic who is an Associate Professor and director of the George Washington University Master’s in Strategic Public Relations program. He has served in this role for 12 years and has built the GW Master’s program into one of the best known and admired programs in the US. Professor Parnell also serves as an Adjunct Professor of Strategic Communications at the GW School of Business.

He also operates Parnell Communications, a strategic communications and leadership training advisory firm. In this role he advises government, corporate and non-profit organizations on executive development and strategic communications.  

Prior to coming to GW, he had a successful 32-year career in the private and public sector. He has worked in government, corporate and agency settings and in national, state and local political campaigns. He was recognized as PR Professional of the Year (2003) byPR Weekand was named to thePR NewsHall of Fame in 2009. The GW Master’s program was named the “Best PR Education Program” for 2015 by PR Week

He is a frequent author and speaker on communications strategy, crisis and issues management, leadership skills and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at industry conferences and universities around the world. He is quoted often on communications management and crisis communications by the national, business and trade media. 

He is the co-author of a leading public relations textbook – “Introduction to Strategic Public Relations – Communicating Effectively in a Socially Responsible World” from Sage Publishing. In its first year, (2018) the text was adopted by over 30 leading undergrad PR programs across the country. The second edition of the text, titled: “Introduction to Public Relations” was published in October 2020 by Sage Publishing.  He also contributed as a co-author of a chapter on CSR in the book “Nation Branding and Public Diplomacy” (Peter Lang Publishing) published in 2017.  He is active on Twitter at @gwprmasters and on Face Book and Linked-In under his name. 

Troy Blackwell, Jr. (MODERATOR)

Troy Blackwell is the Founder of Ready for Change, a political action committee dedicated to get-out-the-vote activities and increasing voter participation among youth. He founded the organization after mounting a progressive campaign for New York City Council. Troy advocated establishing a citywide office of ethnic media to better serve New York City’s diverse 8.5 million residents. A seasoned communications strategist, Troy previously worked for now Vice-President Kamala Harris and traveled to 10 states in a press operations capacity. He has counseled nationally recognized organizations including Color of Change, SEIU, and Communications Workers of America. He has been a board director for PRSA-NY, the Museum of PR, and the Black PR Society. Troy’s communications work has been recognized via CRAIN’S NY Notable LGBTQ Executive, PR Week most purposeful person under 30, and PRSA-NY 15 under 35.

 

Benjamin Backer

Benji Backer is a lifelong conservative activist and the President and Founder of the American Conservation Coalition, the largest American conservative environmental organization. Benji has been awarded the Grist 50, Forbes 30 Under 30, Fortune 40 Under 40, Britannica 40 Under 40, RedAlert 30 Under 30, and GreenBiz 30 Under 30. Benji grew up in Wisconsin, recently graduated from the University of Washington, and is an avid Wisconsin sports fan. He spends his free time hiking, skiing, and drinking unsweetened iced tea.

 

Crystal Carson

Crystal Carson serves as communications director to Former First Lady Michelle Obama. Previously she was a managing director at Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote Initiative, and worked as a media consultant for President Obama’s personal office. Prior to this – she worked for the Obama Foundation, on rapid response for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, and as chief of staff for the communications director in the Obama White House. Crystal is a graduate of Central Piedmont Community College.

 

Jordan Lacy Johnson

Jordan Lacy Johnson most recently served as a National Press Advance Lead for the Biden-Harris campaign, specializing in press advance and event activation in Georgia. Prior to the Biden-Harris campaign, Jordan was a member of the executive communications staff for Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, where she oversaw strategic communications and engagement for the Mayor. Jordan previously served as the Communications Director for the Mayor’s Office of Resilience, 100 Resilient Cities program pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation where she led efforts on a wide range of environmental and educational issues. Previous experience includes work with Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland and the Obama White House Office of Public Engagement. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College, a historically Black college and university.

Scott Thomsen – President of National Association of Government Communicators (SPECIAL GUEST)

Scott Thomsen is the director of communications and public affairs for the Ventura County Fire Department. He has more than a decade in government communications after working for news organizations around the country, including The Orange County Register and The Associated Press. He currently serves as president of the National Association of Government Communicators, which is dedicated to recognizing, developing and advocating for excellence in government communications.




The Tipping Point

 

“Look at the world around you. It may seem like an immovable, implacable place. It is not. With the slightest pushin just the right placeit can be tipped.”

–Malcolm Gladwell

So much of history occurs not with a bang, but a whimper. If we listen closely enough and watch carefully, we can witness it, the moment when the scales tip in the other direction.

With the near-meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor – amazingly, 12 days after the release of the anti-nuclear power movie China Syndrome in March 1979, creating one the greatest movie coincidences of all time – a national movement was born.

Suddenly, everyone was talking about energy. Primed by several summers of hours-long gas lines made possible by the OPEC oil embargo starting in 1973, America and other parts of the world started looking at energy not as something too cheap to meter, but instead as a central part of national sovereignty, foreign policy, household budgets and political campaigns.

Looking to capitalize and leverage the nascent movement, Ralph Nader, Musicians United for Safe Energy and others organized a series of benefit concerts at New York’s Madison Square Garden and a protest on September 23, 1979, attended by 200,000 people in Battery Park. Energy and the environment had become a movement.

The previous spring, Mr. Nader would play a key role in helping to negotiate some of the big-name musical talent. Ecstatic, late one night in California, having just closed a big deal for one of the hottest artists in the music industry, he called Donald Ross, an extraordinary New York-based community organizer, someone I had the honor to know and a close confidante of Mr. Nader.

A very sleepy Donald Ross answers the phone to learn that Mr. Nader had just secured the services of Jackson Grey. “Jackson Grey?” Mr. Ross, asks, incredulous. “Don’t you mean, Jackson Browne?” “No, it’s Jackson Grey. All the kids love him!” Convinced that Mr. Nader knew what he was talking about, Donald goes back to sleep and the next day, asks dozens of young people, “Have you ever heard of Jackson Grey?” It was, of course, Jackson Browne, who would be joined by Bonnie Raitt, Graham Nash, Pete Seeger and many others and the rest, as they say, is history.

May and June of this year have been similarly seismic for the energy industry. It seems to be the moment when climate change and the green energy movement has become not something happening to the industry, but with it.

European energy giant Total has been has acquiring a combination of solar, wind and storage projects at an average rate of 1 Gigawatt per month since January 2020. This past January it acquired a stake in India’s Adani Green Energy, a move that will ultimately include nearly 15 Gigawatts of energy – the equivalent of over 45 million solar panels.

In late May, 61% of Chevron’s shareholders voted in favor of a proposal to cut emissions.

That same week, activist hedge fund Engine No. 1 won a remarkable three seats on the Exxon board.

Also that week, the Hague District Court in the Netherlands ordered Royal Dutch Shell to cut its CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030, compared to its 2019 levels.

The Court’s landmark ruling draws on the growing series of climate change agreements – such as the Paris Agreement – along with human rights standards such as those in the UN Guiding Principles. It is a new day in the energy industry.

On the daily podcast In House Warrior that I host for the Corporate Counsel Business Journal, I interviewed Julianne Hughes-Jennett, a partner with Quinn Emanuel, and Marjun Parcasio, an associate, both in Quinn’s London office, for insights into what all of this means and what’s next.

It may not be quite as melodic as Jackson Grey, but it’s well worth the listen.

As David Frost would say, “That was the week that was.”

Enjoy the listen.

Richard Levick

Listen to the podcast




Play Ball??? 2020 Changed How Sports Was Played. Should It Change Sports Marketing Public Relations Programs In 2021 And After?

Arthur Solomon

For baseball fans, “wait ‘till next year” will begin on April 1 (no fooling), when the first Major League game is scheduled to be played. For basketball fans, “wait ‘till next year” began on December 22, 2020, when the National Basketball Association began its current (2020-2021) season. For National Football League fans, 2020 did not end, no matter what the calendar says, until after the February 7, 2021 Super Bowl was history and “wait ‘till next year” will begin on September 9, when the first NFL game of 2021-2022 season is contested. For National Hockey League fans, “wait ‘till next year” began on January 13, 2021. For countless other professional and collegiate sports, the beginning of “wait ‘till next year” will rely on their schedules, not the Gregorian calendar most people use.

Of course, because Covid-19 will still be spreading havoc in 2021, betting the farm that all of the above start dates are set in stone is as ridiculous as thinking that your friendly financial advisor can really predict the future of a stock. 

But one thing is certain. The dreadful year 2020 has changed the life of sports and nonsports fans. Their lives will never be the same and neither will sports.

Sports in 2020 will be remembered as the year of change – for players, leagues, and how the rules of games were altered because of the coronavirus. But will it also change sports marketing approaches? In my opinion, it should.

For most people, there were three major stories that involved sports in the year of Covid-19.

  • The coronavirus pandemic, and
  • The presidential election, and 
  • The on-going protests spurred by the killing of Black men by police gone wrong.

    1 Covid-19 demonstrated that sports moguls only gave lip service to the health of their athletes. Despite professional and college games being shifted to other venues, canceled or postponed, and despite athletes falling ill with the disease, the owners and their TV network counterparts continued to push for a “complete” season. Only the International Olympic Committee, after insisting that Tokyo 2020, their summer games, would be held as scheduled, gave in to reality and postponed the games to this summer after some countries said that they would not send a team to Tokyo in the middle of a deadly pandemic.

    2 Viewership of sports on TV declined. Industry pundits said it was because of the interest in the presidential election. (If that’s true that’s good for America.)

    3 Along with the machinations of an autocratic, pathological, presidential liar, racial justice protests made following sports to many people seem insignificant.

    The year 2020 also produced a quote that New York Mets fans loved and raised the eyebrows of cynics. It was when Steve Cohen, one of whose hedge funds pleaded guilty to securities fraud charges in 2013, purchased the team for a reported $2.4 billion, and said he’s doing it for the fans.

    Even though surveys show that for most Americans what happens in the sports world is of minor interest or no concern, for a certain segment of our society what happens in the sports world is paramount. For them the list above is incomplete. Sports fanatics, sports marketers, TV network brass, pro and college football fans, workers who make their living because of sports-associated businesses, and the various leagues that set the rules for their sports might think the most important story of the year was the work stoppage by pro athletes, who sat out games to protest racial injustice and police brutality. That happening also might have attracted the attention of people who don’t know the difference between a dunk and a wide receiver. But will it translate into new fans? I wouldn’t bet a plug nickel that it will. 

    Events in 2020  have convinced me more than ever that my decades of saying using current  athletes as brand spokespeople is not a good idea because their actions can upset consumers, current and potential, and drag unwilling companies into the political scene.

    It’s not that I think that athletes don’t have the right to speak out. I believe they do.

    It’s not that I disagree with their taking a stand by refusing to play as a protest against police brutality against Black men. 

    It not that I think what the players did was absolutely wrong. Everyone has a right to protest peacefully or go on strike, as these athletes did. In fact, I admire those who did. (But President Trump, as expected, didn’t approve the right of peaceful protests and condemned the players for their actions, the leagues for permitting the work-stoppage without punishing the players, and team owners, in some instances, for vocally supporting the players.) 

    People who don’t live or die by the sports scene might think that Black athletes speaking out about racial injustice is relatively new, beginning when Colin Kaepernick took a knee on a football field in 2016. 

    Nothing could be further than the truth. Some examples:

    • In 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in MLB when he was promoted to the Brooklyn Dodgers. Years later, he admitted that he didn’t sing the national anthem.
    • In 1968, American track stars John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fists in what they said was a protest against racism and injustice on the medal stand of the Olympics in Mexico City. They were banned from Olympic participation and vilified by newspaper columnist Brent Musburger, who called them “black-skinned storm troopers.” Today, the two track stars are considered civil rights heroes.
    • In 1969, St. Louis Cardinals’ all-star centerfielder Curt Flood initiated the path that now gives baseball players free agency, instead of being forced to play for one team indefinitely.
    • But perhaps, it was Cassius Clay, who in 1964 provided the loudest Black athlete voice against racial injustice (at that  time) by changing his name to Muhammad Ali, saying his former name was his “slave name.,” 
    • In 2016, the “modern” day athlete’s racial protests movement was ignited by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, when he knelt during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner.

    Robinson’s, Ali’s and Kaepernick’s actions will always be remembered and written about. Indeed, they are mentioned more than the Carlos, Smith, and Flood’s protests. But in 2020, a relatively unheralded basketball player, except to followers of the NBA, George Hill of the Milwaukee Bucks, convinced teammates to protest racial injustice by not playing a game, leading to boycotts and rescheduling of games that permeated across the sports world.

    Because of Robinson’s joining the then Brooklyn Dodgers, baseball was changed for ever. Because of Hill’s action, all sports were changed forever.

    (I always thought that Jackie Robinson breaking the baseball color line was the most important action by an athlete in professional sports. Now Hill’s action is as least as paramount.)

    Before the 2020 games’ boycotts, protests by athletes were relatively quiet and coverage of their actions didn’t’ have a long shelve life. In fact, the majority of younger sports fans today, and even many, if not most, professional athletes probably don’t know much about them except that they end up in the occasional sports column, the exception being Major League Baseball’s Jackie Robinson Day, celebrated annually.

    Also, those protests occurred in an era when few athletes spoke publicly about racial injustice. Not now. It’s not unusual to hear an athlete speak about racial and political issues. But the protests of 2020 were truly unique. Instead of a few individual players making a stand, the protests became a movement encompassing hundreds of athletes from various sports refusing to play in an already coronavirus truncated season.

    And during the National Football League season, protests against racial injustice by the players were ubiquitous. Shamefully, in its September 10 season opening telecast between the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs, NBC did not show that the Texans were not on the field during the National Anthem, as a news organization should, even though Cris Collinsworth, a former Cincinnati Bengals player who was one of the announcers said, “I feel like I have to start off by saying I stand behind these players 100%, 100%. What they’re trying to do is bring positive change in this country that frankly is long, long overdue. Let’s just get that out of the way and go call a football game,” he said. (For those readers not familiar with pro football, Collinsworth is not Black.)

    In contrast to NBC’s’ censoring  of the Houston team not being on the field during the Star Spangled Banner, ESPN EVP Stephanie Druley said, “We will cover social justice movements, actions, as they happen.”

    It was not a surprise that players from the National Basketball Association, Women’s National Basketball Association and the National Football League would support the walkout: Their rosters are dominated by Black athletes. What probably shocked sports marketers and MLB officials were that many teams in the league joined the movement even though less than 10% of the players are African-Americans. 

    And a Washington Post poll, published on the opening day of the NFL season, said that 56 percent of Americans approve of athletes kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequality; only 42 percent say it is not appropriate. The poll also showed that despite the anti-athlete protest stands of President Trump and conservative politicians and pundits, a 62 percent majority say professional athletes should use their platforms to express their views on national issues, including over 8 in 10 Black Americans and 7 in 10 adults under age 50.

    That presents a problem for sport marketers that want to keep their brands from being caught up in the politics of the situation, fearful that joining the protests or keeping quiet about them, will alienate consumers, pro or con.

    But even prior to the players’ short work-stoppage, many current star athletes were speaking out about racial injustice and getting involved in politics. Basketball star LeBron James and other athletes formed “More Than A Vote,” an organization to promote and protect African-American voting rights. Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors star, appeared in a video supporting Joe Biden at the Democratic Convention.  The entire Women’s National Basketball Association’s Atlanta Dream team, and others in the league, endorsed the opponent of then GOP Senator Kelly Loeffler, an owner of the Atlanta team who was defeated for r-election, because of her remarks criticizing Black Lives Matter, and the entire league had to shut down when teams refused to play. Also, many players and coaches from teams of different sports spoke out publicly against the racial inequalities and police brutality. When historians write about sports during the pandemic year of 2020, the big sports story will not be about which teams won or lost or which athlete was the best performer. They’ll write about the uprising by athletes of all sports that will change how sports are looked at forever. 

    Aside from losing revenue from a few games, a worrisome concern of the protests to owners of teams is that the work stoppage also might be the forefront of a more aggressive approach by athletes in dealings with management. It demonstrated that when the players are united that they hold the decisive hand. The athlete protests of 2020 vindicates what I have been preaching for many years to sports marketers: using a current athlete as a brand publicity hawker can be dangerous. Here’s why:

    • Prowess on the sports fields cannot prevent past or present misbehavior from being reported on.
    • Why chance having a company or its product represented by athletes who have misbehaved when there are so many other options.
    • Some athletes represent so many products that consumers and the media don’t take their endorsements seriously.
    • During interviews, reporters will concentrate on the athlete’s achievements, often not even mentioning the product being hawked. (Example: I would never suggest an athlete like LeBron James, because an interview most certainly would be dominated by his racial activism; or Brooklyn Dodger pitcher Ralph Branca, because an interview would probably be centered on his famous pitch to Bobby Thomson that won the pennant for the New York Giants in 1951  or any athlete who is renowned for one famous occurrence)
    • Most of the time after an athlete is interviewed, a story will say something like, “So and So is a spokesperson for the XYZ Company,” and then delve into things sports. Some PR people think that’s a good placement. I don’t. Unless the story contains some client talking points, I consider it a strike out.
    • Unlike the past, when sports stars weren’t making so much money, it was easy to make certain that they would not say anything controversial. Today, it’s impossible to keep athletes from expressing opinions and/or becoming activists in cultural and political causes, occasionally dragging their unhappy sponsoring brands into the story.
    • Current athletes probably have been written about many times regarding their play on the field, making it highly unlikely that a journalist for general news outlets would do a story just because of a product endorsement deal.  These types of stories usually end up in trade pubs.

    As a PR practitioner who has used many athletes as publicity spokespersons, I believe that in certain circumstances using an athlete makes sense, as long as they are not current ones.

    So here’s some alternative thinking about using athletes for public relations purposes, one that sportswriters said I was instrumental in popularizing as a  publicity tool for national sports marketing campaigns, while at Burson-Marsteller in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, when managing the media  thrust for Gillette’s sponsorship of the All-Star Game fan baseball election for eight years. 

    Despite raised eyebrows from some colleagues and the client (who told me, “If you want to take this route we’ll give you enough rope to hang yourself”) I decided to build the publicity around ballplayers whose playing days had past, the rule being that they had All-Star Games credentials.

    Some of the athletes urging fans to vote in the All-Star Game elections were: Lefty Gomez, Ted Williams, Bob Feller, Sparky Anderson, Ernie Banks and Ralph Kiner. I used many retired Olympians for Olympic-related programs, but Bob Mathias, was my go to guy – easy to work with, well-liked by the media and reliable.

    My decision to use these athletes was based on my newspapering day’s experience, before I transitioned to PR, my discussions with reporters and assignment editors/producers and by my knowledge as a former journalist of what the media expected from a PR practitioner.

    My thought process went as follows:

    Current star athletes are interviewed by reporters frequently, so let’s give the media something different to encourage the client plug; let’s also make certain the athlete is a natural fit for the program; talking points should make the Gillette message fundamental to the  All-Star Game fan election; ask media contacts about the newsworthiness/interest of spokesperson candidates prior to using them; immediately eliminated from consideration were athletes who were not media-friendly or were “bad” interviews. Also, let’s factor in the business desk as an integral facet of the publicity campaign for Gillette executives and, when possible, previous advertising campaigns.

    While personally I support and admire athletes who are not afraid to speak about racial injustice, police brutality and other political matters, as a PR practitioner my allegiance is to protect the client on any account I agree to work on. (That doesn’t mean working on accounts whose motives you disagree with. During my career I have refused certain assignments because they went against my beliefs.) 

    For many clients that means keeping them clear of controversial situations by selecting athletes who were silent about non-sports issues. However, for the bold client, aligning itself with athletes who speak out certainly makes sense from a moral perspective. And it certainly would result in on-going publicity.

    But for client’s that want to stay clear of current athletes talking politics, my advice is to use athletes away from the front line of the daily media an consider retired athletes, or better still look for other ways to promote products, because as certain as morning follows night, sports and politics are now forever entwined.

    Grantland Rice, a great sports writer wrote, “For when the One Great Scorer comes, To mark against your name, He writes – not that you won or lost But HOW you played the Game.” 

    In 2020 the rules of the game changed. In my opinion for the better. And so should the rules regarding sports marketing. It might not happen this year, but if players keep taking political stands, it certainly will in future years.


    The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com or artsolomon4pr@optimum.net.

     




    OP Ed: Winning The Presidential Battle, But Losing The Election War

    Democrats Must Change Their Tactics And Messaging To Appeal to More Americans Or Risk Becoming A Minority (No Pun Intended) Party

    (Author’s Note: This is the seventh in a series of occasional political columns that I’ll be writing for CommPRO.biz until Inauguration Day, January 20. Previously, I wrote 17 political columns leading up to Election Day. FYI – My first public relations job was with a political firm, where I worked on local, statewide and presidential campaigns. In this column, I write on why the Democratic Party’s messaging must change and appeal to rural voters.)

    Arthur Solomon

    Democratic Debate # 8: So Long, Iowa. Hello Mike?In 2018, the Democratic Party won control of the U.S. House from the Republican Party gaining 40 seats, 17 more than the 23 they needed to win control of the House. That election was heralded as being a prelude to a sweeping Democratic victory in the 2020 presidential election. It wasn’t. Joe Biden won the presidency, but the Democrats lost House seats, gained only one victory in the Senate (to date) didn’t win a single gubernatorial contest, and lost seats in state legislatures.  (Even if they happen to win the two Georgia Senate seats on January 5, their Senate showing was less than they anticipated.) The result of the election clearly demonstrated that an anti-Trump vote, not the issues Democrats campaigned on, was Biden’s not so secret weapon, along with his tenure as Barack Obama’s vice-president.

    What happened?

    In 2018, the Democrats campaigned on a single issue — health care. In 2020 they reverted to what I call their “preaching message” — a strategy emphasizing that all of America’s s problems can be solved by erasing racial injustice. 

    Racial injustice is a sin and must be erased from American society. But people don’t like to be considered racists because they don’t agree 100% with the Black Lives Matter agenda or that of the AOC squad, composed of less than a handful of members in Congress.

    Black lives do matter and their struggle for justice equality should be shared by every person who believes in a just society. But there are other problems that also matter to many Americans that should receive equal attention — like jobs, feeding families, taxes, providing the necessities of life to the indigent, providing livable housing, affordable health care and better schools These topics, while supported by most Democrats in Congress, are drowned out by the consistent message and demonstration of activists shouting racial injustice and defund the police and Democratic Party leaders, fearful of being called racists, even though they’re not, stand by mostly mute. 

    Moreover, people also don’t like to be categorized by politicians and the media as conservatives, moderates or progressives. One person can have different views on positions that would split that individual into all three of those activist and media components. Checking only eight of 10 boxes of an imaginary test devised by Black activists and the AOC squad does not make a person a racist or conservative, but that’s they way are designated by the far left.

    The Republicans understand that a message must appeal to all Americans, just not a percentage of Americans, and other than the defeat of a totalitarian, incompetent president, they easily won the 2020 election. The Democrats didn’t understand that, but with the help of the coronavirus they won the presidency, but finished out of the running in all other matters. 

    The 2020 Democratic message didn’t work. Neither did it work in 2016, when Hillary Clinton campaigned on “Stronger Together.”  Unless the Democratic Party changes their message a minority of the U.S. population –13.4 percent of Americans who consider themselves Black will continue to claim they are the backbone of the party. (They might be and if that’s so it’s too bad for the future of the party.) While African -Americans might be the most loyal voters the Democrats have, recent election history shows that it is not enough, as the results of the 2020 election proves. Trump, the most overtly racist president of modern times, picked up more support from Blacks and Latinos in 2020 than he won in 2016, demonstrating that the Democratic message is outdated, doesn’t work and needs a make over.

    While whites continued to favor the Republican candidate in 2020—as they have in every presidential election since 1968—it is notable that this margin was reduced from 20% to 17% nationally. At the same time, the Democratic margins for each of the major nonwhite groups was somewhat reduced. The Black Democratic margin—while still high, at 75%—was the lowest in a presidential election since 2004. The Latino or Hispanic and Asian American Democratic margins of 33% and 27% were the lowest since the 2004 and 2008 elections, respectively. These shifts do not apply to all states, and are not applicable to most battleground states where voters of color were crucial to Biden’s win,” said an article on the Brookings website by William H. Frey, a Senior Fellow – Metropolitan Policy Program.

    Frey also wrote that in the three major battleground states, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, Exit polls in all three states indicate that more Democratic-favorable (or less Republican-favorable) margins among different white blocs between 2016 and 2020 contributed to Biden’s wins. (The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, DC.)

    Another article on the Brookings website written by William A, Galston, who also writes for the Wall Street Journal, on November 23, said, “The predicted outpouring of minority votes did not happen either. Although African Americans voted in greater numbers than four years ago, their share of the electorate was unchanged, and Biden received a slightly lower share of their vote than Hillary Clinton did. Early figures suggest that Trump improved on his 2016 showing among Black men and younger Black voters for whom the civil rights movement and the Great Society are history lessons rather than lived experience.” 

    What the results of the 2020 election showed is that the Democratic Party must broaden its message or it will suffer the same fate as the Republican Party did in the 1930’s to the early 1950’s.

    The 2020 election showed that the extremist liberal elements of the Democratic Party’s dream of a multiracial coalition of voters of different colors does not work. What the results did show was that it was the Republicans who have a better chance of forming a future multiracial party because they campaigned on bread and butter issues, support for the police and other every day matters that most Americans are concerned about, like “law and order,” which many racial activists consider a dog whistle phrase meaning support of racist policies, which it is not. People like to feel safe.

    In order to survive, the Democratic Party must change its message and realize that just as all whites don’t think alike, neither do all Blacks, Latinos, Asian-Americans, Catholics, Jews, Protestants and Muslims, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins by the dozen. People like to be treated as individuals, not like voting blocks.

    Want proof? Including the 2020 presidential elections, Republican have won eight of the last 14 elections, and as Gerald F. Seib reported in his November 24 Wall Street Journal column, “They have been in the majority in the Senate for the past six years, and 16 of the past 26. They have controlled the House for 20 of the past 26 years.” They have also dominated elections at the state level.

    In her December 5 “On Politics” newsletter, the New York Times’ Lisa Lerer wrote, “For years, Democrats have preached the gospel of changing demographics

    “As the country grew more diverse, they argued, the electorate would inevitably tilt in their favor and give their party an unbeatable edge.

    “Well, the country is more racially diverse than ever before. But exit polls suggest that Joe Biden lost ground among Latino, Black and Asian-American voters in 2020 compared with Hillary Clinton’s performance in 2016.”

    The headline over Ms. Lerer’s column should be taken as a wake-up call by the Democratic Party, which currently is embracing the policy of fratricide. It read “Joe From Scranton Didn’t Win Back the Working Class.”  (Early in January, the control of the U.S. Senate will be decided in two Georgia run-off elections. In person voting began on December 14 and Election Day is January 5. The Democrats must win both seats in order to control the Senate. I’m willing to wager 90% of my nine million acre private island that they will not succeed, even though I hope they do.)

    Another warning sign for the Democrats is that Republicans, because they won almost every election where redistricting was at stake, are now favored to retake the House in 2022, unless the Democrats change their message and craft a message with greater appeal to all Americans, regardless of skin color.

    Despite what far left Democratic activists proclaim, Biden’s election does not show a Republican Party in disarray. What it does show is that the Democratic Party’s message has not registered with the broad American public for years, and unless it broadens its message the party will be reduced to a minority one for years to come.

    The progressive facets of the Democratic Party must come to the understanding that losing on principle gains nothing; that in order to make changes winning is necessary.

    In 2019 and 2020, the Democratic Party leadership largely kept mum when “defund the police” became the battle cry of leftist protesters and all  the police were disparaged because of the despicable acts of a few. Acts of vandalism by protesters were excused by activists as “relatively minor” and condemnation of the violence by Democratic politicians were few. (True, police brutality against Blacks has been a hallmark of America’s history, still occurring today, and remains a stain on our country. But this is 2020, not 1920, and crimes against minorities are now investigated and policemen who committed them are brought to justice. Protests against outrageous police actions do not have to lead to rioting and Democratic leaders must have the courage to condemn rioters and vocalize bringing them to justice.)

    The Democratic Party leadership is not fearful of speaking out against the white supremacists and Neo-Nazi protesters of the far right. In order to regain the trust of all Americans, they must also speak out against protesters of the far left. I believe that not doing so during the past two years was a contributing reason for the party’s poor showing in the 2020 election.

    (And then there are issue affecting only local communities that national Democrats do not talk about but influence how people vote. Two that I’m familiar with became divisive political conflicts in New York City, where I grew up and attended schools. There are eight “exam” high schools like the Bronx High School of Science, Stuyvesant High School and Brooklyn Technical High School. In order to attend these prestigious schools, a student must pass a standardized test available to every student. But activists’ minorities have fought to let in students without taking the tests. In my opinion, as a liberal (no matter how activists might categorize me because I don’t check all the boxes of so-called and self-proclaimed progressives), I believe that the proper method of achieving diversity in these “exam” schools is to provide better education in the lower school grades, so students can pass the tests, rather than lowering the admission standards of the high achievement schools. This situation is reminiscent of the Open Admissions program of the 1960’s,which allowed any student in the top half of a high school graduating class to enter one of the city’s university’s four-year colleges, which until then were considered among the best in the country. 

    (Prior to the Open Admission policy, which was enacted after a political fight, the city’s schools, with its free tuition policy, permitted rich, middle class and poor students, regardless of race or their country of birth, to gain a college education that was on par with many of the top-rated colleges in the U.S. Indeed, some of the city’s colleges were called “the Harvard’s of the poor.” Since Open Admission, the city colleges have never regained their previous prestige.

    (An article in the City Journal about the Open Admission policy said, “The new admissions policy had an immediate effect. Within months, City
    College alone created 105 sections of remedial English and hired 21 full-time faculty members to teach them. Whereas 70 percent of its English classes had been literature courses, now 70 percent were remedial. Nearly nine in ten City College students required remedial writing instruction. Professors found themselves facing students who had never read a book, some of whom had no experience with written language or standard English.”)

    As in many other programs sought by minority activists, the result was to lower the standards of the colleges instead of trying to raise the educational standards of people of color. Speaking out against such programs does not make a person a racist. It makes that person a realist.

    I believe that Joe Biden owes Donald Trump a big “thank you,” because it was the president’s inane, totalitarian and divisive actions that vaulted the former vice president to victory. The election showed that a more normal and less controversial Republican presidential candidate would have prevailed.

    Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th president on January 20. He might remember that in the 1960’s “Pogo” was a famous Walt Kelly comic strip. It often was infused with comments about political situations. It is still considered one of the most literate and aware comic strips in the history of the genre and is famous for a comment attributed to Pogo: “We have met the enemy, and they are us,” referring to the turmoil caused by the Vietnam War. Pogo’s comment could be directed at today’s Democratic Party, which refuses to acknowledge that times have changed and continues to bow to the 13.4% of our population who are Black, while people who consider themselves white, including Hispanics who consider themselves white, are 76.3% of the population. 

    The Democratic Party campaigns as if people’s attitudes are set in stone and all Americans feel that racial injustice and Roe v. Wade are the main concerns of all Americans. They are important issues, and not to be shelved or put on the back burner, but to many Americans they are not the most crucial ones and Democrats must realize that and also give at least equal emphasize to other issues in order to remain relevant.

    In the recently concluded presidential election, preliminary results show that President Trump won 63% of white voters to Joe Biden’s 36%. This was a four point decline of white voters who backed Trump in 2016. Nevertheless, while the change helped Biden win, it did nothing to help Democratic candidates down ballot, proving that the prime factor in the election was that the majority of voters were fed up with Trump’s clownish antics, not the Democratic message.

    The above stats are bad news for Democrats. Future Republican candidates might not be as sub-normal, delusional, egotistical, nasty, dictatorial and divisive as President Trump. In order to win, the Democratic Party’s messaging and tactics must change and appeal to a broad spectrum of the American public.

    More worry for the Democrats are how Hispanics voted in 2020. In Florida, Cuban-Americans are more than 25% of the state’s Latino voters. Cuban-Americans mostly cast ballots for President Trump who handily won the state. So did a great number of Hispanics who live in the border areas of Texas. (During the lead-up to the election, many pundits opined that the Democrats had a chance to win those states because of the large percentage of Hispanic voters. Obviously they were wrong. Again.)

    A December 8 New York Times analysis dispelled the election night assumptions that the Hispanic Trump vote was limited to South Florida and Texas, because in Arizona, the Latino vote favored Joe Biden, who won that state. The Times dissection of voting showed that the Hispanic vote for Trump was national, even though most voted for Biden.

    The take-a-way from the white, Latino, Black and the fast-growing Asian-American population for Democrats was that a one-size-fits-all message crafted because of the happenings in a few states doesn’t work. The party leaders must pay more attention to what their colleagues in states that voted for Trump have to say. Unfortunately, that means upsetting the people of color activists, who certainly will scream “racist” at politicians who don’t check all their boxes and even fault individuals who have always been supportive of civil rights goals – like Joe Biden — if they don’t check all the boxes.

    Already, on December 1, reported NBC News, two prominent civil rights groups – the National Urban League and the NAACP — have publicly faulted Biden for not consulting them about his choices for cabinet and other positions in his administration.   Marc Morial, head of the National Urban League, said “We are still in a wait-and-see mode, but we think that the civil rights community should be more closely engaged.” And Derrick Johnson, head of the NAACP, said, “Civil rights leaders in this country should be on par if not more than other constituency groups he has met with.” At the time of their rebuke, Biden had thus far picked an Hispanic to head the Department of Homeland Security, a Black woman to serve as Biden’s ambassador to the United Nations, an economic team, which includes one Black man, one Black woman and one Indian-American woman, a White House communication team that is entirely female and more than half non-white, and a Black man to a senior advisor role in the White House. In addition, nearly half of Biden’s transition team is made up of people of color, the NBC report said. And in a December 4 article, the Wall Street Journal reported that members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus are also pressuring Biden to nominate their favorites. The story reported that in a virtual meeting the Hispanic caucus again requested that Latinos account for 20% of the federal workforce and that five Latinos are appointed to Biden’s cabinet with at least one in a top position, according to two people involved in the meeting.

    What’s missing from the above statements was a civil rights leader saying that an individual should be chosen because he or she is the best person available for the job, not because of skin color, especially in this time of health and economic crises, when proven competency and experience should be the only considerations. 

    It will take years for Democrats to solve their racial divides. And that bodes well for the Republican Party for many elections to come.

    In its November 28 edition, a first page headline from the New York Times read, “Suburbs Went For Both Biden And the G.O.P.” Blend in the Pogo quote and, in my opinion, that explains the 2020 election.

    The Three Part Solution:

    1 – The elite white sector and their activist Black and Latino allies in the Democratic Party must become pragmatic. They must accept the reality that losing on principle is still losing and gains nothing. 

    2 – The Democratic Party leadership must acknowledge that their messaging doesn’t work. They must accept the reality that they must craft a message that must also appeal to rural white voters, even if doing so upsets the progressives in their ranks. In an interview with Tom Friedman of the New York Times on December 5, Biden acknowledged the problem the Democrats have with rural voters saying, “There is no way Democrats can go another four years and lose almost every rural county in America. For their sake and the country’s, Democrats have to figure out what is going on there and speak to rural voters more effectively.”

    Until the U.S. returns to the days of landslide elections, which hasn’t occurred since 1984, the power of the presidency can be diminished by the opposition party winning the Senate and House, even by as little as one or two seats in each chamber. 

    3 – In the 1990’s,Tip O’Neill, the former Democratic Speaker of the House, wrote a book titled, “All Politics Is Local: And Other Rules of the Game.” In order to prevent becoming irrelevant for many years, Democrats must pay as much attention to the Joe and Janes who live in rural areas as they do to voters who live in suburbs and the cities.

    A tongue-in-cheek definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If the Democratic Party wants to stop their downward trajectory, they must do something different.


    The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author:  Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com or artsolomon4pr@optimum.net.




    Op-Ed: Trump’s Threat To Democracy; It’s Not A Fairy Tale And Can Happen Here

    (The Resemblance To What Happened To The Democratic Government of Germany That Vaulted Hitler to Power Should Not Be Forgotten)

    (Author’s Note: This is the third in a series of occasional political columns that I’ll be writing for CommPRO.biz until Inauguration Day, January 20. Previously, I wrote 17 political columns leading up to Election Day. FYI – My first public relations job was with a political firm, where I worked on local, statewide and presidential campaigns. In this column, I write on why it’s obvious that President Trump has and is displaying his dictatorial instincts that must be taken seriously.)

    Arthur Solomon

    From the moment he was inaugurated as president in 2016, and all during the 2015 campaign, President Trump has shown his true persona. It encompassed traits of egotism, dishonesty, deception, slander, hyperbole, mendacity, and vilification. But the most frightening aspect of his character was his totalitarian instincts. It has always been at the forefront of his decisions, many of which have been rejected by the courts. In fact, it’s only the courts that have kept him at bay. (The same was true during the early days of the Hitler era.)

    But now, as I write this on November 16, Trump’s dictatorial instincts have reached an alarming level: He seeks the destruction of American democracy by voiding the results of an election.

    In his desperate effort to remain in power, Trump has continually said the election was stolen from him and has launched a bevy of law suits claiming voting irregularities. Courts have said otherwise and have dismissed the lawsuits. But he keeps on shouting “fraud and stolen election.”

    Now the president has instructed his loyalists to turn to individual state legislatures, hoping that they would set aside the wishes and votes by citizens of their states and appoint delegates to the Electoral College who would vote to keep Trump in power on December 8.

    Egged on by right wings commentators as Sean Hannity and Mark Levin, the president’s loyalists have urged state legislatures to disenfranchise the rightful electors and replace them with pro-Trump ones. Joining the anti-democratic throng was Donald Trump Jr., who is just another loud mouth provocateur tied to his daddy’s aprons. But what was truly fearful was the comment by a high-ranking elected official, Florida Governor Ron DeSanits who asked legislatures with Republican majorities to “provide remedies.”

    President Trump has also demonstrated his dictatorial instincts by refusing to let president-elect Joe Biden’s reps proceed, as in past elections, in transition talks with the current administration.

    Republican power-brokers in government, and particularly in the U.S. Senate, have excused the president’s actions, saying that they just want to give him time to grieve and that all will be well in time.

    To students of history, that scenario is familiar and dangerous. In the early 1930’s, the political leaders of Germany’s democratic Weimar Republic believed that they could control Hitler by giving him a limited role in government. Six months later he became dictator.

    It’s not unthinkable that the same situation could happen here. Trump has already shown admiration for dictators in China, Russia, North Korea, Turkey and other countries. 

    Trump has continually told members of his administration to disobey legal subpoenas. He has continually dismissed members of his administration for thinking for themselves; other have resigned, for disagreeing with him. He has continually called for his political opponents to be jailed. He has refused to condemn white nationalists and other neo-Nazi groups. (So did the democratic leaders of Germany, who believed once they controlled Hitler that they could control the Nazi Storm Troupers.) Trump has consistently demonstrated that his loyalty to him is the pathway to an important government job.

    On November 14, when a group of pro-Trump defenders gathered for a march in Washington, D.C., Anthony Scaramucci, who briefly served as the White House Director of Communications in 2017, but has since become a critic of the president, said on CNN that the marchers were a small group of maybe 15-to 25,000 people and shouldn’t be a cause for concern.. The marchers included member of the Proud Boys, the far-right, neo-fascist organization, white supremacists, Women for America First, right-wing activists and conspiracy theorists, according to news reports. 

    I disagree with what Scaramucci said about the event. It included marchers who have resorted to violence in the past. Saying that it’s not a problem is similar to what German politicians said about the Storm Troopers in Hitler’s early days — “they’re a small group that can be controlled.” There’s an English proverb that says, “Large streams from little fountains flow, Tall oaks from little acorns grow.” Extremist groups of both the right and left are a danger to our democracy. They must be taken seriously.

    (Reprising her daily “I cannot tell the truth” role, the Wall Street Journal reported that “White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a Twitter message more than 1-million people participated in the pro-Trump gathering, although reporters estimated the crowd as ranging from several thousand to over 10,000 people.” Some observers pointed out that Trump’s first press secretary, Sean Spicer, also lied to the media about the number of people attending the president’s inauguration and that Trump’s administration is ending with his latest press secretary also lying about a crowd size. A permit for the space designated for the rally was issued for 10,000 people but can accommodate about 13,000.

    (“Accounts on the ground suggested that her estimate was wildly inflated,” reported the New York Times. “It’s not like the Fourth of July or anything,” said a police officer who was stationed near Freedom Plaza at 13th and G Streets. He declined to give his name because he was not authorized to speak to the news media. “But yeah,” he added, “there’s a crowd down there.”

    (And The Hill, the politically-oriented Washington website, reported, “While the number of protesters did not appear to reach that total capacity, some of the president’s supporters and staff celebrated the turnout as a success.)

    Trump’s many statements that the election was stolen from him are reminiscent of Hitler’s Big Lie technique that vaulted him to power: Repeat the lie often enough and people will believe it. Many of the pro-Trump supporters at the march repeated the president’s remarks, despite assurances from Department of Homeland Security officials responsible for voting integrity nation-wide refuting the president’s false claims of voter fraud. A joint statement from the Elections Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council & The Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Executive Committees, a component of the Department of Homeland Security, issued on November 12 said, “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history. Right now, across the country, election officials are reviewing and double checking the entire election process prior to finalizing the result.”

    “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” said the statement.

    Nevertheless, despite knowing that his words can cause violence by his supporters, by his words, by his deeds, the president is a threat to democracy. His actions prior to his securing the Republican nomination for president, and to this day, are not only shameful, they are the antithesis of democracy and are dangerous and inflammatory.

    Mr. Trump’s delusional and destructive personalities were never more evident than on Sunday, November 15, when he tweeted at 7:47.a.m. that Biden won. But at 9:16 a.m. he tweeted, “RIGGED ELECTION. WE WILL WIN!” And at 9:19 a.m. he tweeted that Biden “only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go. This was a RIGGED ELECTION!” (Time to consider the 25th Amendment?) 

    After the 1960 election, in which John F. Kennedy defeated Richard Nixon, there were accusations of voter fraud. In Nixon’s memoir, “Six Crises,” he wrote, “If I were to demand a recount…the orderly transfer of responsibility from the old to the new might be delayed for months. The situation within the entire federal government would be chaotic.”  Nixon did not demand a recount. No matter what you think of him, he put the interest of the United States above his own self interest – the exact opposite of Trump.  

    The hallmark of the Trump administration is “Me first, country last.”

     Yes, Trump, Giuliani and other fascist-leaning Republicans are correct when they say this election has “fraud” written all over it.. But it was they who did the writing.

    By his words and actions President Trump has acted as the dictators he has so admired.

    Actions – He has refused to admit that he was defeated by Joe Biden and insists the election was stolen from him.

    Words – On August 17, he said, “We are going to win four more years.”… “And then after that, we’ll go for another four years because they spied on my campaign. We should get a redo of four years.” On September 12 he said, he is entitled to a third term “based on the way we were treated.”

    Americans of all political persuasions who believe in democracy must call out the president for what he is – A Delusional Dictator In Wanting.


    Addendum — The comparison of what is happening in the United States today and during the early days of Nazi Germany is chronicled in  books written by reporters and historians who were on the scene. For readers wanting much more information than is in my column, I suggest the following books, “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” and “Berlin Diary” by William Shirer, and the story of the  American ambassador to Germany in the 1930’s,William Dodd, told by Erik Larson in his “In The Garden of The Beast.”  Also of interest to Olympic enthusiasts might be how prominent Americans unsuccessfully fought against the U.S. Olympic team from participating in the 1936 Nazi Olympics. I’m not familiar with any book on this subject but details are available on the web.


    The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com or artsolomon4pr@optimum.net.

     




    How Important Are Political Statements By Entertainers? (Not Much According To Recent Presidential Elections)

    (And a Couple Of Important PR Lessons)

    (Author’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of political articles for CommPro.biz that I’ll be writing leading up to Election Day. Some opinions expressed are from current occurrences; others from my first public relations job, with a political firm, where I worked on local, statewide and presidential campaigns. In politics, the hackneyed expression, “history repeats” is true. Much of what I experienced in those long-ago days are happening as you are reading this.)

    Arthur Solomon

    It was only a matter of time. You knew it would happen. And as certain as President Trump will lie it did: A show biz personality publicly backing a presidential candidate. 

    While he had previously received print coverage and appeared on other TV programs regarding his politics, the first TV interview of this campaign with a performer that I saw was on December 14, 2019, when I was watching television while peddling away on a stationary bicycle in the gym, in the pre-coronavirus era. It was Ana Cabrera’s CNN interview with “Killer Mike” Render, the   rapper, actor and activist, who strongly supported Bernie Sanders. 

    What amazed me was that it wasn’t the usual: 30 second to a minute sound bites that pass for interviews on TV but an in-depth discussion with a personality who probably isn’t even known by the largest segment of the population that votes – mid age to elderly, and probably couldn’t care what a rapper thinks about politics. (Sanders was already the most popular candidate of young voters who also are most appreciative of rappers. In my opinion, the number of older voters that switched allegiance to Sanders, from Biden, Klobucher, Bloomberg, Warren, et al because of what a rapper says can be counted on the fingers of your hands. But that’s what cable TV considers important: Having enough content to fill its time slots.)

    Then on January 13, the New York Times reported the first entertainer to come out in support of Michael Bloomberg. It was Judith Sheindlin, better known to TV audiences as Judge Judy, whose nationally syndicated show is more popular than Oprah.

    And why not? Like actors, politicians also read from scripts, known as talking points and stump speeches. Many actors and politicians also share other attributes – rudeness, super egos, exaggeration and the ability to tell a lie while smiling. (As a person who has worked with both, I can attest to that.) Maybe their erratic behavior is because most live in a world in which they have little say. The actors are controlled by playwrights, directors and producers; politicians by their political higher-ups. 

    But do people really care what entertainers think? In the past their endorsements didn’t help. Because so many other factors go into a voter’s decision we’ll never know if celebrity endorsements mean anything, even if the candidates that they support are elected. One thing we do know, it certainly provides an easy way for entertainers to gain major print and prime time publicity.

    Recent history shows that the public likes the entertainers’ shows more than the candidates they support. Great performances by supporters of John Kerry, Al Gore and Hillary Clinton couldn’t propel them to victory.

    (“Political surrogates have always played a role in presidential elections, by lending campaigns credibility, enthusiasm and star power. Beyoncé, Jay-Z and Chance the Rapper held a concert in Cleveland for Hillary Clinton in 2016. The actor Jon Voight and the singer Kid Rock campaigned with Mitt Romney in 2012. Oprah Winfrey stumped for Barack Obama in 2007,” reported a January 29 New York Times story.) Of course, as anyone who follows politics knows, there were many other-like endorsers by entertainers.

    Often relegated to “off Broadway” status in venues like Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina are actors who endorse Democratic candidates during the primary season, hoping that they and their candidate will take their performances to the stages of a nominating convention, before taking the show on a national tour. Of course, the coronavirus ended that scenario.

    Instead, the show biz stars first prime time appearances of the current election occurred during the Democratic virtual convention, when TV stars Eva Longoria, Tracee Ellis Ross, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Kerry Washington had more air time than all speakers except the major ones.

    But let’s not forget some of the actors who before the Iowa caucuses endorsed candidates: Danny Glover and Ariana Grande for Sen. Sanders and Cardi B, who interviewed Sanders in a video; Martin Sheen and Ashley Judd for Sen. Warren; Mandy Moore for Mayor Pete and Dave Chappelle for Mr. Yang. Biden won endorsements from two celebrity sports figures, soccer star Megan Rapinoe and Michelle Kwan, the Olympics figure skater.

    Also, actors Cynthia Nixon and Kevin Costner braved the snow and cold of New Hampshire – Nixon was there for Sen. Sanders and Costner for Mayor Pete. 

    And shortly before Super Tuesday, when the former NYC Mayor Bloomberg opened a field office in Massachusetts, Michael Douglas campaigned for him, saying one of the last things his father, Kirk, said before dying was, “Mike can get it done.”

    A new element to performers endorsing presidential candidates was necessitated because of the coronavirus pandemic – virtual fund raisers. Some virtual Biden fund-raisers have featured show biz head liners. One event featured Billy Porter, Melissa Etheridge, Kristin Chenoweth, and tennis great Billie Jean King. Another one had Ken Burns as a host. Perhaps the most unique one was on September 13, when “The Princess Bride” cast, led by director Rob Reiner, reunited for a virtual script reading and fundraiser for the Wisconsin Democratic Party. Jimmy Buffett, David Crosby, Sheryl Crow, Joe Walsh and Rufus Wainwright also headlined a virtual fund raiser for Biden, as did Barbra Streisand, Jennifer Hudson, Jay Leno, Andra Day and John Legend. 

    Vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris attracted a bevy of well-known show biz folk to the Democratic campaign.  They include Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, Sterling K. Brown, Kate Hudson, Sarah Paulson and Jon Cryer. 

    On September 21, the 51,000-plus members Actor’s Equity Association, for only the second time in its more than 100 year history, gave support to a presidential candidate by endorsing Biden. Among the reasons given were Trump’s proposals to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and that “Vice President Biden understands that the arts are a critical driver of healthy and strong local economies in cities and towns across the country.”

    President Trump also has supporters in the arts community. Some are Clint Eastwood, Kid Rock, Stacey Dash, Roseanne Barr, Jon Voight, Stephen Baldwin, Kristy Alley, Scott Baio, Dennis and Randy Quaid, James Wood, Mary Hart, Rick Harrison and Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

    But the overwhelming number of marquee names support Biden, including George Clooney, Robert De Nero Robert Redford, Madonna, James Taylor, Ben Affleck, Dustin Hoffman, Neil Young, Cher, Mark Hamill, Jon Stewart, Larry David, Jason Alexander, Marc Cuban, Howard Stern, Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Eva Longoria, Leonardo Di Caprio, Justin Timberlake Mariska Hargitay and Drew Carey.

    Of course actors, like everyone else, have the right to express their opinions. But does their celebrity status mean their opinions are more valid than anyone else’s? Not in my opinion. 

    History Lesson: Entertainers endorsing politicians date back to 1920, when Al Jolson and Mary Pickford supported Warren Harding at the behest of an ad agency. Occasionally, other entertainers came out in support of candidates after that. But if you’re tired of listening to actors explain why they support a candidate, blame television and  Ronald Reagan, a journeyman actor, who vaulted from being spokesman for the 1950‘s TV General Electric Theater, to becoming G.E.’s corporate spokesperson to the presidency in 1981. What separated Reagan from the current actor-activists was that instead of just talking he decided to put his beliefs’ into action, and the Hollywood-political connection was cemented. For good or for bad? You decide. 

    The Democratic presidential primaries concluded on August 11, with Connecticut voters declaring their preferences, even though Joe Biden had the nomination locked up for months. Once the former veep was uncatchable, many actors supporting other candidates went the way of the No-Nothing Party.

    But voters who like to read about show biz personalities supporting presidential candidates should not despair. As the 2020 election draws closer, expect additional big name entertainers to campaign for candidates they support. (You can bet on it.)

    By all means tune in if virtual concerts are televised. You probably will have to suffer through boring speeches and commercials but the entertainment might be free, unlike the expensive ticket prices at their paid pre-coronavirus performances which were out of reach of so 

    many people. (A page one story in the December 27, 2019, Wall Street Journal reported that “Concert-Ticket Prices Rose 55% in a Decade.”) Enjoy the performances, because you might not like the election night results. (Show biz folks named in this article are not the only entertainers who have endorsed candidates. And if you consider sports part of the entertainment business, which I do, there are dozens of other entertainment endorsers. But beware of endorsements by retired or current football players. Hard hits to the head might not have them thinking coherently.)

    The ineffectiveness of show business luminaries campaigning for candidates should provide a valuable lesson to be remembered by people in our business: Using a highly-recognized individual as a publicity spokesperson for a brand does not guarantee meaningful publicity (i.e. stories containing client talking points) will be included in media coverage. But it sure will help the celebrity’s bank account.

    And to all the young people in our business and those wannabes, consider volunteering for a political campaign. If you do so, you will learn more about the realistic PR world of dealing with media and different publics than you ever got from your expensive communications’ schools tuitions.

    Every facet of public relations is used during a campaign, some good, and some ugly. But the lessons learned will be many. Teething on politics will also prepare young PR people to be skeptical, about promises made to them by agency supervisors. My advice to them is that they should always keep in mind Niccolò Machiavelli’s quote from “The Prince.” – “The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present,” and that might be the lesson that will benefit you the most. That quote might have been written with agency brass and politicians in mind.


    The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com and artsolomon4pr (at) optimum.net.




    Political Lessons Learned From The Primary Season (And How They Apply To Agency Situations)

    Arthur Solomon

    It seemed like it would never end. It was a victim of the coronavirus. But unlike the still increasing, devastating, and deadly coronavirus it finally did, when on August 11 Connecticut held the last scheduled Democratic primary of the 2020 presidential campaign, even though it was known months ago that former vice-president Joe Biden would be the Democratic candidate. (Note: The Puerto Rico primary on Sunday, August 9, was suspended in mid-voting because there weren’t’ enough ballots delivered to polling sites. The remainder of the primary was tentatively rescheduled for Sunday, August 16.)*

    During the primary season, before it was evident that Biden would be the Democratic candidate, I wrote a column after each TV debate on this web site giving my analysis of the situation, importantly including lessons learned that could be applied to agency non-political accounts. More on those later.

    But first politics: The most important lesson learned from the primary season is that it’s time for the caucuses to go the way of the five cent ice cream cone. The caucus, helped by media reporting that exaggerates their importance, proves nothing. They give the winner of a caucus bragging rights for a few weeks, nothing more. They provide the political pundits with story lines that have as much validity as the advice provided from a race track tout, nothing more. 

    The caucuses are dominated by the few voters who have time to kill, like the ladies who lunch, or the men who tune in to sports talk radio for countless hours, arguing the merits, or lack of, of the designated hitter role, or, maybe, if Joe DiMaggio was a better center fielder than Mickey Mantle. Not participating in the caucuses are the 99.9% (maybe more?) of voters who cast a ballot in a primary and then get on with their daily life. 

    Those who benefit most from the caucuses are not the winners. It is the local economies that cater to the influx of visiting political activists and media reps. The caucuses have been dying a slow death. In 2020, Kansas, Maine and Hawaii ditched their caucuses and switched to a primary voting system. It’s time for the few caucus states remaining to discard this undemocratic method of selecting a candidate and open up the voting with a primary election that makes it easier for everyone to participate.

    The great majority of PR people will never be involved with political campaigns, as I was. My first PR job was with a political agency, where I worked on local, statewide, and presidential campaigns. During that time, I learned lessons from political PR pros who threw away the text books used in communications schools. I encourage all PR people to pay attention to the political scene; better still, consider volunteering your services to a campaign. It will provide a Master Class in dealing with the media. 

    Here are some of the most important PR lessons from the primaries that can be applied to non-political agency life:

    Let’s begin with the most important take-a-away from the primary season that applies to accounts you’re most likely to work on during your career: PR people should not assume that an early success when launching a new program means that the end results will be what you promised a client. In the Iowa caucus, the first Democratic nominating contest of the 2020 primary season, Pete Buttigieg was the winner; Joe Biden finished a poor fourth. Point proven.

    Here are other lessons to remember:

    Assumption: In the early days of the primary season, many pundits proclaimed Sen. Bernie Sanders as the ultimate winner: Many PR people proclaim a new program a success when the launch of a program gains positive media the next day or for several days later. Both assumptions are wrong. In the Sanders’ situation he was proclaimed the presumptive winner of the presidential nomination by pundits before the primaries commenced. But in April, Sanders discontinued his campaign, partly because of the coronavirus outbreak, but mostly because of his lack of support by voters. Relation to Our Business: It’s not unusual for a new PR program initiative to receive coverage during the first few days after the launch, and then fade away. Lesson: A few early hits do not indicate a successful program. Success or failure will not be known for many months. Advice: Don’t write self-congratulatory memos to the client about the success of a program until results over many months are in. Important to Remember: What an account team might consider a success, a client might not.

    Assumption: Because of his popularity with young voters, Sen. Sanders believed that they would overwhelmingly support him in the primaries. They didn’t. Relation to Our Business: Many PR people believe that because they have good relations with journalists, a reporter will do them a favor when needed. The days when reporters would do “favor” stories are largely gone because of technology. Many reporters never go to the office and have to continually update stories. Thus it is more difficult than ever to form a “buddy” relationship with a journalist. Lesson: As Sen. Sanders found out when his Bernie Bros didn’t vote for him, never count on a pal to bail you out by writing a story. Too many eyes are watching. Also, because of layoffs and the discontinuation of pubs there are less print news outlets that clients care about. Advice: The best way to assure media success is to pitch stories that work for the media and the client. Important to Remember: Too often, media friends have told me, because I was a journalist prior to joining the PR business, the majority of releases from PR people are tossed, as are pitches, because they are client-centric, making them useless. And because of that pitches from PR people who continually send “no news” pitches are not even read. 

    Assumption: Former New York city Mayor Michael Bloomberg assumed that he could gain the nomination by spending considerably more money than the other presidential hopefuls. Relation to Our Business: Many PR people blame lack of a sufficient budget for their program’s failure. Lesson: Just as spending money on an expensive dog and pony show press conference doesn’t assure media success, neither did Bloomberg’s massive expenditures during the primaries work. Advice: Because of the 24 hour news cycle, and reduced staffs, the days when a press conference was sure to attract a large number of journalists has largely disappeared. They are a waste of money that could better be used to help clients in other ways, like arranging round table discussions with beat reporters who cover the topic. Important to Remember: The size of a budget does not guarantee media success. It’s the content of your pitch that that matters.

    Assumption: The larger the budget for a PR campaign, the greater the success of the campaign. Relation to Our Business: Account people always strive for larger budgets. Lesson: Joe Biden had much less money to spend during the primaries and had trouble raising money. (While other candidates had considerably more money to promote their campaigns, no one came close to Sen. Sanders; Bloomberg’s efforts were self-financed.) Advice: If a PR effort falters, never complain to a client that it was because of a limited budget. If a budget was not sufficient, the client should have been notified before the beginning of the campaign and different tactics should have been suggested. Important to Remember: As the Biden’s primary victory showed, the size of a primary budget does not guarantee media success. The same is true with PR initiatives. It’s the newsworthiness of your PR campaign that determines success or failure.

    Assumption: Long-planned strategies by candidates before the primary season began and detailed planning by PR agencies for their initiatives will assure successful roll outs of plans. Relation to Our Business: The best planning does not assure the success of a program. Lesson: The coronavirus epidemic disrupted the plans of both primary candidates and PR firms. Advice: Always have a back-up plan. Important to Remember: As Robert Burns wrote in his 1785 poem “To A Mouse,” “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ MenGang aft agley.”

    Assumption: Television debates during the primary season will help little known candidates break through the clutter. Relation to Our Business: Good publicity will not necessarily help a client to stand out. Lesson: The media pundits loved the debates, but the debates had little affect on voters. Advice: Wasting your client’s money by suggesting programs that have little chance of advancing you client’s goals is a malpractice of PR. Never suggest a program you don’t believe in because the clock is running out or because you believe it will be easy to get reporters to cover the story. (Example: Using well-known celebrities who are not adept on delivering client talking points during TV interviews or whose own stories dominate the interviews.)  Important to Remember: The Democratic candidates during the primary season dropped out of the running early, throwing their support to Biden, probably fearful of doing what the Republican presidential candidates did during the 2016 primary – squabbling among themselves instead of rallying behind one candidate until it was too late to prevent Trump from gaining the nomination. Never think you have all the answers to a client’s problem. The best plans are conceived by incorporating other people’s good ideas into programs.  And never act as if you’re the smartest person in the room, even if you are.

    Assumption: Responding promptly to reporter’s questions is always a good media strategy. Relation to Our Business: I always believed, and practiced, that rushing an answer before you are prepared to do so should never be done, especially during a PR crisis situation, when the facts are still murky. Lesson: Because of  the Covid-19 situation , which curtails his travel,  the Biden campaign seemingly has added a new twist to not giving in to reporter’s endless questions, which began after the  Super Tuesday primaries, of who he will choice for vice-president. He kept them guessing. As a result, the campaign gained weeks of national publicity, even though Biden stood at home. Advice: If you can’t handle the media pressure, there are many other aspects of public relations that you may be better suited for than dealing with the press. Important to Remember: During a crisis, once the facts are known, disseminate the bad news ASAP. Conversely, try to dribble out good news as long as possible in order to gain consistent favorable media coverage.

    There are also two important lessons that PR people should heed from the pandemic pressers of President Trump and Gov. Cuomo, some of which were held during the primary season. 

    Assumption: A press conference featuring the CEO of a major corporation will impress the media. Relation to Our Business: Some PR practitioners feel that the CEO of a company in crisis should lead the response to the media. Lesson: The coronvirus epidemic magnified an important lesson that PR people should heed. The higher a speaker is in the corporate structure, the more closely what is said will be checked for accuracy. (Everything President Trump said during his daily pressers was fact checked for accuracy, sometime in real time, and his many misstatements, to phrase it politely, were reported on). Advice: Always fact check every statement by a client before meeting with the press. Important to Remember: The CEO of a company and its size will not deter the media from pointing out inaccurate statements, exaggerations and outright lying. The same goes for PR people no matter which agency you’re employed by or what your title is. Be careful of what you and your clients say when talking to the media. The “gotcha” journalists will point out your fibs on TV and in print. As they should.

    Assumption: The loftier a speakers title the greater press coverage a press conference will receive. Relation to Our Business: Some PR people still think that reporters are anxious to interview corporate CEOs and presidents. Lesson: It’s the news revealed at press conference that determines the coverage, not the speakers. Advice: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s pressers provided a template for PR people on how to prepare clients for an interview. Cuomo would begin each one by announcing new facts. But he quickly transitioned to working in his most important talking points early in the presser, not waiting or hoping that reporters would bring up the subjects. PR people should use the same technique. Important to Remember: Unlike years ago, when editors would eliminate talking points from reporters’ stories, saying they were too commercial, most will permit them, but it’s up to the client to work them in smoothly.

    In conclusion, I found all of the Democratic primary debates boring. It’s time for a new debate format in which only hard news boots on the ground political reporters, who really know what they are talking about, ask the questions, instead of the high profile studio cable stars, who only ask top of the shelve questions, whose answers viewers already knew from tuning in political news shows or reading the morning newspapers. Especially evident during the made for TV show debates was the lack of journalistic ability of questioners not being able to change their prepared questions or ask follow-ups depending on the candidates rehearsed answers. 

    In comparison, the 2016 Republican debates were much more interesting because you never knew what would come out of Donald Trump’s insulting mouth. But after nearly four years of his administration we now know: A totalitarian-admiring, divisive egotistical, racist “how can it help me and the heck with everyone else” president who is incapable of leading the country during a crisis. (I’ll take boring any day.)

    Finally, my advice about listening to the pundits on TV during any election: If you are really interested in the political ups and downs ignore 99.9% of what is said on the cables.

    Here’s why:

    • Cable reporters often parrot “inside” polling information from a candidate’s campaign. Question: Do you really think bad news about a candidate would be divulged? Not a chance. (As someone who has worked on political campaigns, including at the presidential level, I can attest to that.)
    • Much reporting by the cables begins with the lead-in, “Our sources tell us.” See above bullet for my answer.
    • Pundits often say, “So and so is leading, but here’s why it might not hold up.” Question: How do they know? They’ve been wrong so many times in the past. Check their track records. Ask Al Gore and Hillary Clinton or all the GOP presidential candidates during the 2016 primary season.
    • Political pundits are paid by the networks to give an opinion, even if it’s not based on information they’ve investigated. (Being correct and opining on something new is not a requirement That’s why all the expert pundits who declared Hillary Clinton the winner in 2016, until the votes came in, are still on the job.) Their opinions are formed from the same information you can get by reading a newspaper like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal or other respected journals.

    Soon the presidential debates will begin with their ridiculous format of having the candidates answer questions in a few seconds, instead of giving them sufficient time to fully state their positions. 

    Even worse, after each debate TV pundits will criticize the demeanor, if not the replies, of the candidates and wonder if they “can recover from their poor performance.” (Question: Who elected the TV pundits to decide which candidate was better? Answer: They elected themselves. ) But the main reason these presidential debates, as were the ones held during the primaries, are ridiculous is because too many people think the way a candidate can answer a question is the determining factor on how he will govern as president. And TV is to blame for that preposterous assumption.

    There’s a simple way that the cable networks can improve their election night coverage: Do away with the multi-tiered panels of pundits, where each one has a different opinion, and just report the votes tallies as they are known. (But I have a better chance of becoming president than the cables doing that.)

    Candidate’s remarks should be fact checked for accuracy as they make them. Period. Exclamation Point.

    In this election, voters will have a living history on how the candidates will govern if elected because both Trump and Biden’s records are known. Voters should decide for themselves and not be swayed by the comments of TV pundits or the candidates’ surrogates. 

    But if you prefer comic-relief, tune in the cable channels, especially the programs hosted by Hannity, Carlson, Ingraham and the other fabulists on Fox News, all of whom must have majored in creative commentary at Trump University.

    *(Based on my experience working on all levels of political campaigns, including presidential ones, if I was advising Joe Biden, I would have suggested that he delay his announcing his vice presidential selection until the day before, or on the day of the Democratic Convention, when the suspended Puerto Rico primary will probably have been concluded. Doing so would show respect for the Puerto Rico citizens in the U.S., whose votes could make the difference in states like Florida, which an estimated 1,128,000 Puerto Ricans call home. I also would advise Biden to not make the Hillary Clinton mistake and neglect “sure thing” states, or run on a “stronger together” campaign, as Clinton did.  Each day, Biden, his veep and surrogates should concentrate mostly on the inept handling of the coronavirus by Trump, especially emphasizing how the president has disregarded the advice of medical scientists throughout the pandemic, how doing so has affected all facets of life and is now urging schools to reopen, essentially using children as guinea pigs and campaign fodder. That’s probably the one issue that Americans of different political beliefs can agree with. All other issues are secondary. )

    Now that Biden has selected Sen. Kamala Harris as his vice-presidential running mate, you can bet the house, condo, co-op or farm that for the next week or so the TV pundits will be discussing winners and losers among the other contenders. Here’s my opinion: Among the losers were all the other female Black hopefuls. But the biggest loser of all is a male who was pleading for voters to support him during the primaries – Sen. Cory Booker, because if the Biden-Harris ticket wins, Sen. Harris will be the Democratic presidential candidate in 2024, and the possibility of her choosing a Black veep is as likely as me growing younger, not older, every tick of the clock.


    The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com or artsolomon4pr@optimum.net.




    How To Lose The Presidential Election, Again

    How To Lose The Presidential Election, Again

    (With Advice That Applies To None Political Accounts)

    Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

    In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump was victorious not because his message had the broadest public support – he received almost 3-million less votes less than Hillary Clinton – but because of infighting among the various constituencies that make up the bulk of the Democratic Party.

    The Bernie Sanders fanatics helped destroy Clinton’s chances by demonizing her throughout the campaign, and she didn’t fight back. The Vermont senator also refused to endorse Clinton for months, even though it was clear that she would be the nominee. But most damaging to her election chances was that African-American voters stayed home rather than vote for a candidate who wasn’t Barack Obama in states that Trump won by the narrowest of margins.

    The same defeatist scenarios is currently repeating itself: Even though he has endorsed Joe Biden, Sen. Sanders wants state primaries to continue so he can amass delegates that can push for goals that he supports at the national convention; women advocates are pushing for a woman to be the vice-presidential candidate; black activist politicians are saying that Biden must choose an African-American as his running mate or black voters might again stay home. What’s missing? None of these fractions are saying what they should say: “Biden should select the best qualified person.”

    The “I’m going to take my ball and go home” attitudes of these groups if they don’t get what they want are a major problem for Biden. Because the Republicans always gather around their presidential candidate, whether they approve of the person or not. Biden must receive the votes of these disappointed Democrats in order to defeat Trump.

    My first job in public relations was with a political agency, where I worked on campaigns ranging from local to statewide to presidential campaigns. I learned important rules there that apply to political and none political accounts: Unity does not always lead to success. But disunity will always lead to failure.  

    It’s been a while since I strategized campaigns for candidates, and began planning PR efforts for non-political clients. But I know a losing political strategy when I see it. And to date, Biden is on a losing trajectory. The reason, in my opinion? As Hillary Clinton did in 2016, and as many self-anointed PR crisis practitioners in our business do, they are following rules that were written years ago, instead of trashing them and writing new ones that match the situation, as Trump did in 2016.

    There are loads of nitty gritty tactics that must be followed during any political campaign. I’m going to ignore those because I’m sure they are being followed. What are missing from the Biden campaign are the “out-of-the-box” approaches that distinguish a candidate from others.

    Below are four tactics that I would advise being implemented immediately if I was advising Joe Biden:

    1. Immediately announce his preference for vice-president.

    Why: It would stop the infighting among the different Democratic fractions early in the campaign, providing time for a healing process. 

    2- He should appoint an advisory committee composed of representatives of all segments of the Democratic Party and publicly announce the members.

    Why: It would demonstrate to all the disappointed fractions that their views will be taken seriously.

    3 – He should publicly announce that all future Democratic primaries should be held.

    Why: It would show that he believes everyone should have the opportunity to express their views, and it would be a welcoming gesture to voters that supported other candidates.

    4- This is the most important advice I would give Biden: He must show leadership; which thus far he hasn’t. The fact that he is limited from doing so because of his being confined in his 

    house shows a lack of out-of-the-box thinking by Biden and his advisors.

    Why: In order to be trusted in a time of crisis, a leader must lead during the crisis.

    Here’s a simple way that Biden can demonstrate leadership without leaving his home:

    He should form different advisory committees, one composed of medical scientists, the other of economists and business people. The medical people should devise a plan of action that can be enacted if a future pandemic develops. The business people should concentrate on the present, proposing their plans for reopening the economy. 

    The announcement of the “Biden Committees” and their plans would be certain to achieve continuous major media coverage in these days when the media is struggling to find fresh approaches to covering the coronavirus pandemic. 

    Thus far, Biden’s not-so-secret weapon has been Trump’s inept leadership skills during the coronavirus pandemic. But still support for Trump among Republicans remains high; Democratic constituencies are still divided. Also, the margins between the candidates in some battleground states are this close.

    Also, thus far, Biden has forfeited the Democratic leadership to governors, making many people wish that one of them would be the presidential nominee. 

    If Biden wants to be the leader he must act like the leader, instead of playing follow the leader to other Democratic spokespeople.

    Thus far Biden’s main message seems to be, “Barack Obama trusted me.” That might have been enough for him to sweep the African-American vote during the primaries. And it surely will help him do the same during the November election. But African-Americans aren’t the only voters and President Obama is not everyone’s hero

    During the early primary days, many new ideas were floated by Biden’s opponents, mainly by Andrew Yang, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. None by Biden then; none by Biden now. And that’s a problem, especially in these sad days of the coronavirus pandemic.

    I’m still waiting for the former vice-president to propose ideas that work for 2020 and after. Ideas that can correct the many problems in society. Instead his ideas date back to the days of President’s Clinton and Obama.  

    Because Biden is running against the worst president in America’s history, an egotistical, narcissist, perpetual lying machine president, the former vice president might win re-election without announcing new approaches to the health and economic problems the country now faces. Better than a Trump re-election? Certainly.  Better for America’s future? Only if the Biden administration announces bold, new ideas to correct America’s problems.

    And he can’t wait until the Democratic convention to do so.

    Many years ago, I coined a phrase about clients with PR crises: “There is no such thing as a one size fits all PR crisis plan. Every crisis deserves original thinking.” (Since then many PR practitioners have used that phrase in their writings, without giving credit to the originator. Not a surprise in our copycat business.) 

    The same rule about the need for original thinking also applies to political campaign strategy, as does another truth: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” That is probably the most famous line written by George Santayana, the Spanish-American philosopher. Thus far Biden is repeating the Clinton mistake of playing it close to the vest.

    There’s also another, more cynical saying, “Never let a crisis go to waste,” that is being played out during this sorry time of the coronavirus. President Trump is using the crisis to push for his political goals; not so Biden.

    The former vice president’s campaign is ignoring all of the above truths. By doing so he is helping Trump win re-election.

    Bold action with new thinking by the Biden campaign is needed for him to compete with Trump for media coverage. The same is true for PR people who play it safe by refusing to think “out-of-the-box.” One thing is certain: Playing it safe will not separate you from the herd whether you’re a politician or a public relations practitioner.


    The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com or artsolomon4pr@optimum.net.




    Truth on Trial: A PRSA-NY Interactive Debate for Communicators

    Free Live Event: October 7, @ 6 – 8 p.m. (New York City)

    Join PRSA-NYC at an amazing free event! 

    Authenticity is a core value for communicators and a deciding factor for consumers.  Defining truth is a challenge with the ever-increasing use of social media that provides information at our fingertips. Determining what is true and not true, particularly in this Age of Disinformation has become a very difficult task. Communicating truth effectively today is more important than ever.  

    What better format for discussing truth in our profession than a mock tribunal with an “acting” Court? Members of the “Court “will be a judge (the moderator) a defense counsel, a prosecutor, a witness for the defense and a witness for the prosecution. The audience will represent the jury.

    In this exciting interactive session, the moderator will begin by presenting to the audience a motion on truth.

    The motion will read:

    “Truth is overrated, less relevant then ever and rarely provides a competitive advantage in business. Therefore, we should not make truth a priority in the practice of our profession.”

    Meet the Speakers

    Andrea Bonime-Blanc

    Dr. Bonime-Blanc is CEO and Founder of GEC Risk Advisory and a global governance, risk, ethics, cyber and crisis strategist, serving business, nonprofits, and government. She is a NACD Board Leadership Fellow and holds the Carnegie Mellon CERT Certification in Cyber-Risk Oversight. She is a Governance Mentor at Plug & Play Tech Centre and, since 2017, has served as the Independent Ethics Advisor to the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico. In 2019 she was appointed to two International Advisory Boards – Greenward Partners (a Spanish-based green energy firm) and Ethical Intelligence (a Scottish based AI ethics consultancy). She spent two decades as a senior global corporate executive leading governance, legal, ethics, risk & numerous other functions at four global companies including PSEG and Bertelsmann. Her latest book, Gloom to Boom: How Leaders Transform Risk into Resilience and Value debuts in October 2019. 

    Jim Lukaszewski

    James (Jim) E. Lukaszewski (Loo-ka-SHEV-skee) is one of America’s most visible corporate go-to people for senior executives when there is trouble in the room or on the horizon. As America’s Crisis Guru®, Lukaszewski is known for his ability to help executives look at problems from a variety of sensible, constructive and principled perspectives. He is an expert in managing and reducing contention, counteracting tough, touchy, sensitive corporate communications and institutional issues. He has spent his career counseling leaders of all types who face challenging situations that often involve conflict, controversy, community action or activist opposition. His 14th book, The Decency Code will be released in January,2020 by McGraw-Hill. He is a recipient of the Patrick Jackson Award for Distinguished Service to the Public Relations Society of America and PR News’ Lifetime Achievement Award. Lukaszewski is a member of the Rowan University Public Relations Hall of Fame. 

    T.J Elliott

    ETS’s Chief Learning Officer from 2002-17,T.J Elliott now is its Knowledge BrokerPreviously Director, Consulting Design, Cavanaugh Leahy, and Vice President, Longview Associates, Elliott consulted for Mobil Oil, NASA Goddard Space and Flight Center, Verizon Wireless and other corporations. Educated at Manhattan College and Nova Southeastern University, he co-authored Decision DNA, wrote the foreword to Work-Based Learning: Bridging Knowledge & Action in the Workplace and the lead chapter in Smarter Innovation: Using Interactive Processes to Drive Better Business Results. He has taught at NYU, Mercy College, and Columbia University. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey with his wife, Marjorie.

    Michael Schubert

    Michael Schubert is the Chief Innovation Officer for Ruder Finn, where he has created multi-channel engagement campaigns aimed at building community and brand preference across both targeted and mass-market audiences for clients ranging from Novartis, Pfizer, Citi, PepsiCo and Mondelez to the White House and the United Nations, as well as multiple startups. Michael brings a unique skill set to today’s communications landscape, combining a deep understanding of analytics with a creative storytelling approach founded on many years as an artist, composer, director and strategic brand builder. His real world and online engagements have won multiple awards, including his Mr. Picassohead project, which won the SXSW Viewer’s Choice award, and his 200 Years Citi campaign which was recognized by PR Week as one of the “top 15 public relations programs in the past 15 years.” In addition to his work in communications and PR, Michael has written two Off-Broadway shows.

    Meet our Moderator

    Emmanuel Tchividjian, The Markus Gabriel GroupEmmanuel Tchividjian

     Mr. Tchividjian is the owner and principal of The Markus Gabriel Group, an ethics in communication consulting practice. He is past president and currently the Ethics Officer of the NY Chapter of PRSA-New York. Prior, Mr. Tchividjian was the ethics officer of the PR firm Ruder Finn. Emmanuel has been engaged in public speaking on ethics and communication to academic institutions such as NYU, Columbia University, Penn State and Washing and Lee University.

    Emmanuel has published numerous articles in PR trade such as PRWeek and Pr. News as well as an article in the Harvard Business Online. He was certified Compliance & Ethics Professional in 2006, by the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE.)

    *This is a FREE event. Registration is required so that we do not exceed capacity of the venue.*




    LGBTQ+ Media and Influencers Share Advice For Marketers This Pride Month

    LGBTQ+ Media and Influencers Share Advice For Marketers This Pride Month

     

    Mike Morra, Senior Account Executive, Taylor

    June marks Pride Month, and this year WorldPride, a global celebration of the LGBTQ+ community, is being held in New York City in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising

    Pride is a powerful societal tool that is being increasingly embraced around the globe and, in the marketing and communications space, is often associated with a story of progress and triumph… The narrative focuses on how far we’ve come as a society, the celebration of love around us, as well as the hardships the community faced and overcame.

    Indeed… every day it seems as though we’re taking another step in the right direction, but for every step forward, it feels like we’re uncovering a few more hurdles that we will need to overcome.

    Last year, Samantha Allen, former Senior Reporter at The Daily Beast and author of The New York Times critically-acclaimed new book ‘Real Queer America, pushed me into a space of reflection about how Pride initiatives are discussed and treated in our industry.

    Allen noted: “the commercialization of LGBT Pride seems like an age-old topic of debate—even though it wasn’t that long ago, in the grand scheme of things, that none of these companies would want to be seen touching anything queer with a ten-foot pole.” And I think that’s important to remember… LGBTQ+ pride initiatives can seem to be more of a branding exercise than catalysts for change that directly benefit the LGBTQ+ community.

    This past month, I had the opportunity to ask six LGBTQ+-identifying media and influencers what advice they have for marketers trying to activate in the LGBTQ+ space.

    1. “Do not lose sight of how much further we have to go” – Ryan Fitzgibbon

    Ryan Fitzgibbon is the founder and creative director of former gay lifestyle magazine, hello mr. It was seen as one of the first magazines to spark LGBTQ+ conversation in its space before larger publishing houses emerged in the market.

    It’s easy to get caught up in the current landscape of the LGBTQ+ community and compare it to years past. Yes, the community has achieved some equality and increased equity in recent years, and we’ve come a long way since Stonewall, which is great, but the community and world still have a ways to go.

    According to a recent article from Money.com, 26 states in the United States do not have state-wide protections for LGBTQ+-identifying people, and Wisconsin has only state-wide protections for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual-identifying people, explicitly excluding people who identify as Transgender, Queer or other (Source: Money.com,2019). 

    That is SCARY. Marketers and communications practitioners should direct attention to this fact and help to bring exposure to other issues like this that our community faces. Ryan further argues that “the budgets spent on Pride floats and the revenue made from sales of rainbow-painted merchandise during the month of June should find their way into to the ongoing fight for LGBTQ rights.”

    2. “Hire Queer People” – Adam Schubak

    Adam Schubak is the partnerships editor for a number of publications under Hearst Magazines including Men’s HealthElle, and Redbook. He is also the founder of Hearst’s first LGBTQ+ group Q+A, standing for “Queer + Allies,” which offers information to Hearst employees and editorial assistance on LGBTQ+ topics for the publishing houses’ brands.

    “The only way to truly understand the wants and the needs of the LGBTQ community is to work with people who are members of that community who can be the voice of your brand in that space,” said Schubak.

    Hundreds of brands have come out with Pride campaigns this month, and every day it seems another ten campaigns are announced… At this point, it feels like brands who are not supporting LGBTQ+ Pride this month are in the minority. If you are working in the marketing and communications space, you or someone you know is likely working on one of these campaigns.

    It’s great to have everyone involved, but it is essential to hire and consult an array of LGBTQ+-identifying people throughout the stages of a campaign. “Understand that we’re all different,” Schubak added. “LGBTQ+ covers a lot of people and we’re not all about glitter and drag queens.”

    3. “Pride cannot just be a celebration. It has to be a resistance and call to action” – Adam Eli

    Adam is a New-York based LGBTQ+ activist. He is also the founder of the LGBTQ+ activism group Voices4, a group fighting for global LGBTQIA+ liberation.

    LGBTQ+ visibility and celebration are important inclusions in a LGBTQ+ initiative or campaign, but so is bringing light to those who do not have the visibility or are not able to freely celebrate who they are or how they identify.

    I repeat… 26 states in the UNITED STATES!!! do not have state-wide protections for LGBTQ+ people, and Wisconsin only has partial state-wide protections. What can marketers do to encourage acceptance, inclusivity, and the adoption of laws that protect LGBTQ+ people?

    In order to be recognized as an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, it is vital for marketers to ‘fight the good fight’ alongside LGBTQ+-identifying people and help to uncover the real issues that the community faces.

    4. “Ask Questions” – Maxwell Poth

    Maxwell Poth is a photographer and founder of the LGBTQ+ youth project, Project Contrast, an organization aiming to educate individuals on mental health and teen suicide within the LGBTQ community. Project Contrast depicts stories of what it is like living as an LGBTQ+ person in America today.

    Ask people in the community why something would be impactful to them or what their needs are. Make their voices heard.

    Maxwell’s project, Project Contrast, works to shed light on stories of LGBTQ+ youth in the United States through his photography. By being curious and asking questions, Project Contrast depicts and shares the stories and lives of LGBTQ+ youth in America.

    There should be a curiosity factor in all marketers to enhance and strengthen their respective marketing strategies toward the LGBTQ+ community.

    5. “Show Your Work” – Samantha Allen

    Samantha Allen is the author of Real Queer America, and was formerly a Senior Reporter at The Daily Beast. Samantha holds a Ph.D. in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Emory University, and has been awarded the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism Article.

    “Don’t just say you’re donating a portion of the proceeds from certain products to LGBT charities. Specify the portion, and state your company’s commitment to the cause,” says Allen. When activating within the LGBTQ+ space it is imperative to show how you’re impacting the community.

    Are you bringing exposure to black trans women of color in an advert, who have been subjected to a growing number of hate crimes and fatal violence, and donating to causes that protect them? Are you exposing LGBTQ+ youth and the hardships they face, while supporting organizations that provide that group vital resources? Prove your follow-through and commitment.

    LGBTQ+-identifying people want to know exactly why you’re supporting X charity or organization, and how much you’re donating to said organization. LGBTQ+-identifying people will see through any work that solely allows a brand to capitalize on their share of the market and will call marketers out for it. This is proven time and time again when brands try to activate around any marginalized group.

    Allen also added, “I think LGBT people generally don’t like it when a company tries to market us when they don’t fully support their LGBT employees, so it never hurts to boast a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index… or [shine light on] other LGBT-focused initiatives and work the brand has done.”

    6. “Sustain Engagement” – Joshua Allen

    Joshua Allen is a queer/trans artist, writer, speaker and model, who speaks and writes about race, gender and LGBTQ+ justice. Joshua has given a TEDx Talk and has written for the likes of Them and AfroPunk.

    “I would suggest that brands invest in a long-term, sustained-engagement strategy with LGBTQI+ communities throughout the year to maximize impact during Pride Month. In my opinion, the brands that have built the most loyalty amongst LGBTQI+ communities are the ones who show sustained support, appreciation and honor for our communities year-round,” said Allen.

    Don’t stop here, marketers. Be an ally and remain an ally. Show the LGBTQ+ community that you are here because you care about us and are willing to stand with us as we conquer those hurdles that seemingly never end.

    Making change in the world and being profitable do not have to be mutually exclusive. In the marketing and communications space, let’s set the example for the next 50 years of LGBTQ+ Pride and inclusivity.


    About the Author: Mike Morra is a Manhattan College alumnus, who currently works as a Senior Account Executive at Taylor, an independent PR & digital strategy agency for the world’s leading consumer brands. Named “Consumer Agency of the Decade” by The Holmes Group, Taylor has partnered with the most influential corporate marketers, utilizing lifestyle, sports, and entertainment platforms to drive consumer engagement. Founded in 1984, Taylor is headquartered in New York, with offices in Los Angeles, Chicago and Charlotte. Taylor’s current portfolio of client partners includes AMB Group, Capital One, Diageo, DraftKings, P&G and Panini America.




    Making Time for Diversity in Public Relations

     

    Making Time for Diversity in Public Relations

    Simon Erskine Locke, Founder & CEO, CommunicationsMatch™
    Erika Sanchez, President, Hispanic Public Relations Association’s New York Chapter
    Tracey Wood Mendelsohn, President & CEO, Black Public Relations Society-New York Inc.

    Research shows that diverse companies tend to perform more strongly than those that are not. Diversity starts with people. Business success comes from incorporating it into ideas, the images in visual messaging, the outlets where companies advertise, and the events they sponsor.

    Companies’ actions, the people they hire, and their ratings as the best places for diverse professionals to work, are keys to building brand engagement and loyalty with diverse audiences that drives business results. And, since diverse teams produce more authentic communication and reduce the risk of cultural missteps, diverse companies are not only more likely to succeed, but less likely to fail.

    In our industry, with its ongoing focus on diversity and inclusion, few would argue with the idea of the value of diversity when it comes to effectively engaging with audiences.

    Yet despite the talk and how long the issue has been at the front and center of discussion, progress on diversity is limited. We are seeing agencies and corporate communications departments leading the way and executives being hired for diversity initiatives. But the industry is falling short when it comes to hiring and retaining diverse professionals because, on many fronts, it is delivering decidedly mixed messages.

    Since diversity is “important” for the industry, wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect diverse professionals and agencies to be part of the mix for every hire, as well as agency and consultant search?

    At the recent Institute for Public Relations Bridge Conference in Washington, D.C., Dr. Denise Hill, assistant professor of communications at Elon University’s School of Communications, noted that the common response of companies and agencies to questions about why they are not more diverse is “it’s hard to find diverse professionals.” Her retort – “There are outstanding diverse professionals in the industry; you are not looking hard enough.”

    In a new spin on hiring, we hear industry leaders arguing an impediment to diversity is that competition for qualified candidates is high. Echoing Dr. Hill, the net is not being cast far and wide enough. Companies need to commit to investing the time required to find prospective candidates. They are out there.

    There’s no doubt that time is an issue for all of us. In the “I have to get a press release drafted today or risk losing the client” versus “I need to take more time to identify diverse people for my business or agency” conundrum, the immediate goal tends to win every time.

    Over the long run, taking the time to build a talented, diverse team will improve efficiency by ensuring client campaigns are as impactful as possible with today’s highly engaged audiences. Investing in diversity will help avoid the type of one-size-fits-all approach that simply doesn’t resonate or backfires because of a lack of audience awareness.

    Given our human propensity for short-term thinking, and the challenge of overcoming inertia because issues seem too big to address or too far in the future to think about, taking a cue from behavioral science, it may be helpful to frame diversity in terms of why it matters now and set achievable goals.

    Here are three immediate reasons to make diversity a priority today:

    • The diversity of agencies (and companies) is becoming more important to clients’ hiring decisions
    • Metrics to measure the diversity of agencies will become part of the agency selection process
    • The challenge of engaging audiences and the consequences of getting communications wrong are greater ever. Companies can’t afford to not have diverse people in the room who understand how messages will be received across different communities and generations. (Watch this short video on the importance of diversity in PR).

    And, here are three simple steps companies and agencies can take to start the journey:

    • For every professional hire or agency or consultant search, include multiple diverse candidates in the search.
    • Reach out to the National Black Public Relations Society (NBPRS) and the Hispanic Public Relations Association, the chapters and affiliates of HPRA and BPRS in New York and other cities, as well as other associations representing diverse members to access job boards and opportunities for engagement with diverse candidates and agencies.
    • As CommunicationsMatch continues to add HPRA and BPRS members to the platform, include a search on the site for diverse agencies, consultants and freelancers with the qualifications you need, by industry and communications expertise, location and size, and add them to your shortlist.

    Taking the time to engage on an ongoing basis with organizations with diverse membership offers a path to building a pipeline of candidates, knowing more about agencies that are qualified for your business, and supporting their work and membership.

    There’s much more companies and agencies can do to make a difference. (Read: Diversity in Public Relations: How To Make a Difference Today.) Progress will made as the result of a sustained commitment to building diverse teams and a diverse industry, founded upon the idea that our businesses will be more successful as a result.

    It’s also important to remember that investing time in diversity not only makes business sense, it’s the right thing to do.

    Find out more about the HPRA and BPRS partnerships with CommunicationsMatch.


     About the Authors:

    Simon Erskine Locke is founder & CEO of CommunicationsMatch™, an agency, consultant and freelancer search, RFP and communications resources technology platform that helps companies find agencies, by industry and communications expertise, location and size, member organizations and diversity. CommunicationsMatch has established partnerships with HPRA New York chapter, NBPRS and BPRS’s New York Affiliate to encourage diversity and inclusion when companies search for communications professionals. 

    Erika Sanchez is president of the Hispanic Public Relations Association’s New York Chapter and has been an active member in the organization for the past 7 years. She’s also the co-founder of Braid Communications, a full-service public relations consultancy focused on lifestyle brands and specializing in media relations, social media development, influencer marketing and multicultural communications; helping clients actualize their visions and create powerful narratives. 

    Tracey Wood Mendelsohn is president and CEO of Black Public Relations Society-New York Inc., principal of a full-service entertainment, media and talent management company and the executive producer for several media properties. She is a C-level, marketing communications, brand management, business strategist and non-profit development executive. Mendelsohn is also a serial entrepreneur, educator (New York University, The New School University) and social justice activist. Her 30+ years of experience encompass various sectors, including arts & entertainment, politics, luxury consumer goods, caviar, and gourmet food and travel.

     




    How Major Brands Approached International Women’s Day

    How Major Brands Approached International Women’s DayBrian Gefter, Provacateur Holdings  

    Every holiday is a chance for companies to get a marketing boost, while also highlighting issues that are important to them. Many firms have taken advantage of International Women’s Day to display the work their pursuing in gender equality. Here are some examples of advertising campaigns that have been launched in the context of International Women’s Day this year: 

    PepsiCo

    Last week, the food and beverage giant announced its partnership with the non-profit organisation CARE, with a grant of $18.2 million to support women in the agricultural sector as a part of the ‘She Feeds the World’ campaign. PepsiCo’s philanthropic arm, the PepsiCo Foundation, will work with CARE to provide 5 million female farmers and their families with economic support and education to help them improve crop yields, incomes and access to nutrition locally. PepsiCo and CARE will also be launching a campaign called ‘Closing the Crop Gap’, which provides women around the world a platform to share stories about the challenges they face in the agricultural industry. 

    Budweiser

    In an attempt to own up to and rectify mistakes of its past sexist campaigns, Budweiser has published three ads from the 1950s and 1960s in juxtaposition with updated versions that ran in major publications on International Women’s Day. The vintage ad which reads “It’s a fact: Budweiser has delighted more husbands than any other brew ever known” was presented alongside the updated version that reads, “It’s a fact: Budweiser can be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere”. The company has partnered with the Association of Advertisers in their #SeeHer initiative, which aims to improve how women are portrayed in advertising. 

    Vodafone

    Vodafone will be helping Bright Sky, an app that fights against violence against women, launch its app in other European countries.The app, which helps to identify and support victims of domestic abuse and violence, already been downloaded over 10,000 times in the UK. 

    Mattel

    In 2015, Mattel, the makers of Barbie, started a campaign called ‘Shero’. This International Women’s Day, Mattel has released Barbie versions of inspiring high-profile women such as Indian gymnast Dipa Karmakar and British activist Adwoa Aboah, as a continuation of the campaign. “The Barbie brand believes girls should never know a world, job, or dream women haven’t conquered”, said Lisa McKnight, Barbie’s Senior Vice President and General Manager. 

    Dove Chocolate

    Dove, owned by Mars, is investing $1 million into the non-profit CARE to develop a marketplace for women in the Ivory Coast, where women can sell different items, including food, fabric and soap. The company’s interest in helping the country comes from the fact that Dove sources its cocoa from the Ivory Coast. 

    PayPal

    PayPal has taken on the ‘Balance for Better’ theme of this year’s International Women’s Day by promoting its ‘Balance for Better’ initiative by making a video that features five businesswomen discussing how to create a more balanced workplace. In the video, Lisa Edwards, the senior vice-president of Benefit Cosmetics says, “I feel like I work double as hard as some of my male counterparts that continue to move up the ranks.”


    About the Author: Brian Gefter is an event planner and marketer.