Friday, December 11, 2009

Waiting for UAL, and customs and immigration, and the bus driver and the hotel clerk named Godot

Waiting for UAL 836, and customs and immigration, the bus driver, and the hotel clerk named Godot...

One industry that provides my students with some of the richest personal examples and experiences in crisis communications and leadership are the airlines.
I found that the airlines, despite years of tragic experience and other just time wasting experiences still don’t “have it right”. If the pilot of UA 836 from Shanghai said just one more time (after about 8 statements) “just bear with us”, I thought of an agency that should script what pilots and flight personnel say. Too much personality and quips are not welcome when you have been in the airport for 9 hours, 3.5 hours trapped in the plane 15 feet out on the tarmac, served only pretzels and water.
The serious aspect of the travel was that the two flight attendants heard a noise in the rear of the plane shortly after backing away from the gate that we later described as the sound of crushing the luggage vehicle. It was missed by the pilot, but thankfully the flight attendants (who are there for our safety) stopped him from moving to take-off. The saga continued with an inability to diagnose the huge noise (not luggage loose in the hold), but some sort of firing mechanism in the engine (a huge retort). Read or ask Rob Mark at his airline blog site for a technical explanation. My expertise, if I dare, is the failure of the service and communications management and leadership of UAL. 1. They did apologize (over and over and over again). 2. They did not offer a consistent pattern of explanation or up-dates (forgetting us for an hour at a time). 3. They “forgot” to tell us that the flight attendants could not continue past a three hour time (labor agreement) until that became a crisis. 4. They did not arrange for labor to open the doors again, 5. They did not send us to the right immigration gate (imagine about 200 people walking back and forth at 9 p.m. looking for a way out). 6. They did not warn the airport security that 200 plus would have to be re-entered since we had walked from point A to B inside security and needed to be checked again, they forgot to tell the baggage handlers that they needed to remove hundreds of bags or the carrousel would not allow more bags from the belt (I unloaded about 30 bags for exercise), they forgot to put bags on the right bus (some of us peons went to the economy class hotel and others, well you elites know who you are). They failed to tell the hotel to have more than one desk clerk of the 5 on duty help check us in the hotel, etc. And, newsflash, they failed to test the engine before coming up to the gate in front of hundreds of passengers waiting Now, they are now backing away. I guess we will have to “just bear with them”.
The answer in crisis leadership (some insight due to Ian Mitroff) is to consider the crisis in the context of a whole general system: the passengers are connected to the plane is connected to the loading gate, is connected to immigration, is connected to security is connected to baggage claim, is connected to the bus, to the hotel, to the bus, to immigration, etcetera, etcetera as Yul Brenner so capably said. In the spirit of full disclose I did get a free ticket (I think it is a ticket because the letter from the customer relations professional is such a generic apology it might be from Tiger Woods for a free sleeve of golf balls or a well used club for smashing car windows.
The next day from the time of the loading scheduled for 2 p.m. it was also a series of missteps: the same plane had the same mechanical failure (before we loaded). UAL tried to have us bump the same flight number’s plane (all several hundred of us jostling for position at the one gate). However, they finally abandoned the original plane on the tarmac, December 9 flyers (me) took December 10 flyers’ plane and they took (we heard) another plane. To my flying partners at UAL: Systems, systems, systems are linked with software and communications and leadership!

China Times Blogs and Tweets on Crisis Leadership

China Times Blogs and Tweets on Crisis Leadership

I would have posted this blog and a number of Tweets from Xiamen and Shanghai, but I was blocked from teaching Chinese business leaders some modern lessons of history in crisis management and leadership.
My weekend of teaching and two days of conversations with my colleagues in China were limited by my addiction to using the web for teaching and examples. My access to Youtube for teaching my class of Executive MBAs was also prevented. I tried to locate equivalent videos of the CEO of Mattel apologizing to the Chinese government and to the people of China, but the videos so readily available via Youtube were not available on more than one China site. It was a shame because I really wanted to help the 33 business leaders (age 35-55) who own their own firms or are CEOs of others that crisis management can be taught and practiced by observing the mistakes of others. Naturally, there was a lot of “news” about Tiger Woods that gave me an opportunity to provide instruction on a failed crisis leadership display 1. He did not respond in a timely fashion, 2. He did not apologize, 3. He did not respond personally (except through an “announcement” on his website. 4. He was not forthcoming about the real issues in even a slightly transparent manner, 5. Even after an initial delay of 2 days and later of 5 days; we do not know what he really wants us to know. And, obviously a man with over 7 million Google “hits” cannot ask for privacy or to be left alone. Tiger, like the Hong Kong movie star Edison Chen, “hunter” VP Dick Cheney, David Letterman, Jack Welch, Governor Blagovich of Illinois, or the officers of any publicly traded company cannot expect privacy. They are now all “public figures” in the broadest sense. The business leaders in China that I know (over 1,000 whom I have educated and trained) now know that they are public figures (hard for many corporate officers all over the world to accept). They are especially “public” if they make, distribute, sell or retail high risk and high visibility products or services: toys, food, pharmaceuticals, cars, cosmetics, products with long directions of operation, education, legal services, health care and others. They are also at risk if they make or market products for the elderly, children, women, the poor, disabled, uneducated, and more.

I wish the Chinese government would allow educators and others to access the lessons of history so that their citizens will not repeat the mistakes of the West.

Missing the Roast

Missing the Roast
You know the kind of roast I mean. The one where Shekie Green and Dean Martin and a bunch of rat pack type comics “honor” one of their own with quips and friendly insults. Maybe, just maybe, a classier form of the tradition is the annual Washington D.C. Press Association roast of the President. Sometimes, the roast in D.C. is a little too close to the policy bone, sometimes it creates new comic heroes (Steven Colbert of Northwestern). Some years it should just be cancelled when even the press and the president can’t seem to put any distance between their actions, their points of view (GW Bush) and their funny bones. The Northwestern University version of this oddly American tradition is the nearly annual Integrated Marketing Communications Department Roast of the faculty by the graduate students. I believe it would be fair for me to say that I encouraged the first of the roasts in 1991. However, the tradition may have come and gone and come again over the years in Medill. The PR group at that time listened to me when I told them (as they got upset with our classes, exams, class schedules, technology failures, late hours - sound familiar?) to “write it down and then get us later at a roast”. They liked the idea. I liked the idea of deferring the pain (hoping some of the stories would be lost).

I am a bit worried as I sit typing this unpostable blog in China (see China blog above) in the Pudong Airport (see UAL above) that I will miss the roast at 2 p.m. today (of course I am flying east and gain a day). I think that the students have two versions of each sketch (a tough one and a tougher one). The tough one is meant for the professor when he is in the audience. It is tough enough (pictures of me and Albert Einstein as a comparison….of our both having “bad hair years”). Now I can handle that jab (I have had to for many years). However, I think they have a double tough version if the professor is foolish enough to be out of town or trapped in Shanghai.
My prediction for this year’s roast is that one way or another; I will be roasted for teaching them the value of the on-line software – SecondLife. I thought I might send my avatar to the roast but that would incur more jibs and jabs ( I must not have explained it well enough last January that millions of productive business hours (and even more wasted personal hours for netizens) are used on SecondLife. My favorite use is not to role play, change gender or drink and smoke but to attend lectures and meetings where (like IBM, Gronstedt Group and dozens of leading universities you can hold classes and discussions). I just hope that the roasters are not too mean (I can take it), but I may have the last roast the first time I attend a meeting, seminar with them and their bosses on SecondLife (or Thirdlife). Enjoy, I am sorry I am not there, but I promise to watch the illegally recorded video posted on Youtube!

PS I ran into some IMCers in the airport in Chicago and, sure enough, my profile was all done in avatar!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Notes on President Obama's Speech at West Point

Notes from interview with ABC-TV Channel 7 Chicago: December 2 2009. Watch for video on site: The speech was his first public and televised action as Commander-in-Chief. There was no real news since the story of 30,000 U.S. additional troops had been released to newspapers 18 hours before the talk and 12 hours before to the morning news broadcasters. As usual (but not his best) he delivered an eloquent talk about hope, American dreams by quoting most of our parchment documents. He give a great mini-lecture (the best our recent Presidents have been able to deliver) to the audience near 20 year olds who were in grade school when these wars began. His "bone" to the progressively liberal Democrat base of announcing an end date for departure in a little over a year created the greatest stir. Some would say that "no one really likes the illogical idea except the enemy". The applause, though spare was polite. On the other hand, he shook hands hundreds of times with the cadets on the way out of the auditorium seating over 4000. It is a devil's dilemma for Obama. He has to get a national healthcare bill passed with help from the Democrats but his bill of $50,000,000,000 (billions) for the war in Afghanistan (and Pakistan?) has to be supported by the Republicans and more conservative Democrats.

Today, the President placed himself in the fragile but great position of being a leader. Who will follow? More real news to come.

Tiger Woods

Notes from interview with NBC-TV Channel 5 December 2. It was last Friday that Tiger Woods caused a great deal of damage to his Escalade (I thought he drove Buicks)see It was not a minor accident. The real accident is to Tiger Wood's reputation and "brand". Despite his plaintive appeals for privacy; he built his career on the basis of this golf skills shown on the media and reported in the media. As a "public figure" he must be willing to subject himself to even the tacky "journalism" of US magazine and the National Enquirer. All CEO's and corporate officers of "public companies" as well as NGOs (non-governmental organizations), government, education, military have this same obligation. Journalism is now available to all of us (witness this essay)and photo opps are as close as your cell phone. Tiger Woods should have 1. responded by Saturday p.m. with a personal statement. He should have had his team of advisers (crisis consultants, public relations experts, sports management talent) arrange a personal appearance on Oprah or with Katie Couric. If he is clear on his desire to save his relationships in his family and if his wife, Elin, will "stand by her man", then he would be more the master of his own fate. With his sterile postings to his website of "fill in the blank" (David Letterman, Eliot Spitzer, Michael Jordon, Bill Clinton) I have sinned press release, he lost a modest amount of control over his message. 1. he should have personally responded immediately (or least in 12 hours)- recall VP Chaney quail hunting debacle. 2. he should have apologized to his family (Letterman forgot the first night and came back the second night with an apology) and his fans. 3. as an entertainer especially in a sport at his level he should have not asked for privacy, but understanding. 4. If he was having marital problems he should have said so as he finally did five days later. At least the speculation, rumors, even tapes would have had some context and been less newsworthy. 5. He continued to behave as if "it would go away" when he fostered the problem. Others, less ethical media, filled in the blanks for their readers who include even the legitimate press who were "forced" to run the story reported by others. We are supposed to be transparent (open practice of honesty and ethics). 6. He needed a crisis plan. See 2003 Caywood and Englehart. Finally, his sports endorsements are another subject. For a discussion of the "morality clause" See Unless he can repair the damage without hiding behind his website (not social or conversational media); he is likely to lose some endorsements in the near future. P&G Gillette, Nike Golf, Gatorade, ATT, Upper Deck, Accenture, Tag Heuer, Buick, TLC Vision, Netjet reportedly generating $100 million per year. I still believe he can recapture his position and get out of the "sand trap". _

Monday, November 30, 2009

Content and Credibility Platform for Business Writing?

Two “C” Framework: Content and Credibility
This essay is built upon a relatively parsimonious model to explain the opportunity for the strengthening and advancement of professional communications education. It has been prepared, in part, for a course taught at the graduate level, to integrated marketing students. The objective of the essay is to engage the students in a dialogue on why communications is a critical factor in business and other organizations.

The model is offered to create a possible new “unique strategic position” (new USP) for that would integrate the best traditions of the School toward a newer substantive educational future.
The report asks the general question: Can the unique values and skills of academic journalism developed nearly 100 years ago be established, sustained and celebrated more formally in non-journalism based or non-news organizations?
The model shows what unique value journalism can offer by demonstrating its ability to produce viable content in all forms of new media channels. It also demonstrates how to produce credible content that will appeal to students and to the managers of their hiring organizations.
The essay examines the decline in traditional journalism content sources and explores how content can be provided to serve the public through an increasing number of non-journalism channels and organizations. The report notes the recent research surveys from the Pew Foundation and Edelman Communications and others that demonstrate the fluctuating and nearly incredible loss of credibility over the past decade in public and private institutions.
The report asks three specific, researchable questions:
1. Can the large volume of information content formerly produced by journalists be created by a new generation of educated professionals?
2. Can future information content strengthened with journalistic standards be offered in non-journalism/press organizations?
3. Can “credible content” become an educational goal for a non-news degree?

The logic for new journalistic laws applied in non-journalistic organizations derives from Sir Isaac Asminov’s extraordinarily logical “First of law of Robots”. Introduced in his 1942 short story "Runaround", the “Laws”:
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

An alternative set of laws may be established:

Now, the First Law of the New Degree (with apologies to Isaac Asimov)
#1. An organizational journalist may not actively provide content that is not credible or through inaction allow content that is not credible to be communicated.
#2. An organizational journalist must adhere to the policies of their organization and orders except where such policies and orders would conflict with the first law.
#3. An organizational journalist must protect his or her own journalistic reputation as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second law
First “C”: Content
The first issue of “who will provide content” is a contemporary issue that is argued by surviving members of the press, by researchers in the automated delivery of journalism, by journalism educators and by investors in new media systems.
For example, the well publicized “test” announced October 16 2009 by the Chicago Tribune of the value of the AP wire service, the sharing of stories and content across an Ohio network of newspapers and media as suggest that content supply and demand are in flux(Owen Youngman). If a precipitous decline in the numbers of traditional news hunters and gatherers means a relative decline in content; then new sources for news content, information and even entertainment content will have to be developed, staffed and supported.
The new content may be needed for the rapidly increasing numbers of newer channels of communications. However, while traditional journalistic channels are dying in some countries, they are growing rapidly in others such as China. The growth and demand for content includes the growth of advertising and public relations to feed the dragon...
Whether traditional journalism is dying or just changing in some economies, the demand for original content and new communication pipelines may be expected to outstrip the ability of even traditional journalistic content providers to have created and disseminated information. Journalism has always adapted to the demand for information by expanding it sources, using websites as sources and relying on other professionals for information.

Journalism has always been an experimenter in new media as has public relationsTechnology Shifts
• From broadsheets, to tabloid to newspapers and back to tabloid
• From paper to computer screens to digital readers
• From print to electronic to digital
• From print to sound to video to digital forms
• From community to national to global and back to community
A somewhat useful search of Google for November 4, 2009 locates 167,000 searches for the phrase “who will provide content”. The more serious uses of the phrase and the concept of content are identified in two following examples that 1. "operationalize" journalism as the professional provider of content and 2. "operationalize" public relations and corporate communications as professional careers providing content for multiple stakeholder organizations. . From a mirror perspective both fields have served the public and their audiences with credible communication standards.
Paul Gillin wrote about the future of journalism in a world the role of journalists will be substantially pared: “For one thing, the craft of journalism will evolve to include far more aggregation and organization than it has in the past. Editors will assemble their reports from a vast library of resources located across the Internet. Information will come from paid staff writers, others from freelancers and still more from reports and opinions published by independent third parties. Editors will still have a critical role, but their value will increasingly be in assembling and organizing information for readers who don’t have the time to sort through the vast Web”.
The future of the creation and dissemination of content was also described by Gillian under the title which parallels the work of this report as “How the Coming Newspaper Industry Collapse Will Reinvent Journalism”
Gillian wrote that “Editorial content is outsourced to an army of individual enthusiasts, former journalists working for a wide range of organizations and bloggers who find interesting information on the Web or original information from organizations and feed it to the site operators. Editorial expenses, which account for about a third of the operating costs of a daily newspaper, are practically zero”.
What Gillian misses in both his creative predictions is the logical placement of traditional journalists and new journalists into a wide range of organizations from hospitals, to NGOs, to churches, to government and politics to the largest potential content provider - business. His “third party” journalists may be former journalists and new crops of young journalist able and willing to deliver content from their catbird seat in many legitimate organizations with huge quantities of digital information to share for free. His editors in surviving journalistic pipelines may be charged with determining the credibility of the content of the wider and wider range of content providers (rather than simply tossing the past high percent of public relations generated content.
The content provider issue is on-going. Even the decline of reporting on business by the press was illustrated by David Carr’s November 1 and 2, 2009 stories in the New York Times:
“Fortune magazine had already cut back to 18 issues a year from 25 and this week will be whacking anew at staff along with other Time Inc. magazines. BusinessWeek was sold for parts to Bloomberg a few weeks ago.”
“Instead, Forbes, a magazine that sells a beau idéal of capitalism, announced last week that it was cutting a quarter of its already decimated staff. The Wall Street Journal’s Boston bureau — historically a hothouse of game-changing business coverage — is being closed.”,
A practical example may also suggest that “assisted” traditional media 2009 is an important trend for public relations. . Lindsey Miller reporting for a PR newsletter (Ragan) notes that the shortage of journalists in traditional media may have opened opportunities for PR:
‘While you’ve been off discovering the latest trends in social media, your local newspapers, TV, and radio stations have been laying people off. That puts you, the corporate communicator, in line to give them an extra hand while getting the exposure you need.
“They (TV and newspapers) don't have any reporters anymore,” said Rhonda Mann, Beth Israel’s director of marketing communications, at the recent Mayo Clinic-Ragan Social Media Summit. “In Boston, everyone has laid off writing staff, but they still have columns to fill or airtime to fill, and they need content.”
Mann has used that reality to her advantage: She’s given stations much-needed health content in return for the hospital’s name mentioned on the show. Mann knew that Boston’s Fox affiliate cut almost all of its morning show writers but still had a four-hour morning show to fill… “They’re looking for good health content. There’s a need for health because a lot of the first people laid off covered a beat, health in particular,” Mann said.’
The diminished source of traditional journalism content could be augmented with content information from NGOs, healthcare, government, business, religion, military, education, investors, communities, and many serious issue related organizations. The challenge does not appear to be our society’s ability to simply provide content. The credibility of organizational content may be a greater challenge.
It is clear that content is of important value to the future of our society. The source of the content may widely fluctuate from traditional sources lead by the press and journalists, but providing content is not enough.
The future of meaningful content provided by professional sources depends not just on its distribution but its credibility. It may be clear that journalism can provide content. The challenge that the Asimovian rules state at the beginning of the report is to provide both content and credibility

Second “C”: Credibility
In the past decade most of our cherished institutions have lost their credibility as defined by trust (Edelman Trust Barometer) or according to the public view (Pew Research). There are a number of views of the importance of the survival of the same set of organizations whether they 1. challenge the public’s trust in key institutions and demand new communications and behavior, 2. open doors for Medill students and faculty to apply journalistic values and skills in a wider range of stakeholder organizations and 3. constitute a shift in the power of new “estates” beyond the simpler 4th estate model where credible content is needed to reestablish the credibility of our basic institutions. The institutions and common controversial issues include:
• Religion (Catholic priest behavior, Christian fundamentalism politics),
• Government, (sexual behavior of members of Congress and President Clinton,
• Employees (unemployment, entitlement values)
• Consumers (economic failures, housing crisis)
• Investors (Wall Street, executive compensation, fraud)
• Labor (automotive industry, retraining)
• Healthcare (national healthcare debate, fraud)
• Media (accuracy, Pew studies of trust)
• Universities (public/private school tuition raises, clout, Innocence Project)
• Arts (MCA board donation controversy in Chicago, economic failure of theaters)
• NGOs (highest ratings)
• Others

For over a decade the Edelman Communications agency has produced the Edelman Trustbarometer. The reliable research global surveys have established strong metrics for following the “ups and downs” of the public’s faith in a wide range of institutions. For example in July 2009 Edelman reported that 48% of U.S. respondents were affirmative on the question of “How much do you trust business to do what is right?” While the number suggests that there is great room to improve it was a 12% increase over the number reported only 6 months prior. The numbers for Government were 30% in January and 42% in July for the same question. NGOs, on the other hand, scored the highest with young and older members of the world public. The work is worth greater reporting detail. (see charts and

Another series of well known and substantial surveys from the Pew Research Center confirms the general premise of this report: “Americans express increasingly negative views of a wide range of major institutions, reflecting strong discontent with national conditions (October 25, 1 2005). The series of studies are naturally more policy oriented. They confirm, again, the general decline in what can be translated to represent a precipitous loss of credibility in our institutions (stakeholders).

The data (appendix) raises an important question about how to improve the public’s view of a wide range of organizations. Called by a range of terms depending on the viewer these stakeholders, organizations, institutions and even “estates” are critical to the professional career future of university students, teachers, administrators and staff.
Some observers consider the loss of credibility* or trust as merely a “PR” problem. The statement is like the proclamation of a mining official attributing a labor strike and threats of death to both the management and labor and gun shots as a “PR problem” (Fortune magazine over 30 years ago).
A more recent link to a story on Medellin Columbia was titled: Aint No Way to Go: Just a PR Problem
But Medellin isn't just any beautiful city. It is variously known as the world's "murder capital," "cocaine capital," and "kidnap capital.
Obviously, these institutions have more serious issues. It might be naïve, but even the most outspoken critic of public relations can hardly logically blame a single professional field for the errors in judgment or corruption of the leadership of many of the world’s leading institutions (so, it might be very naïve). However, academic and practitioner public relations professionals still realize that the acronym PR is not the most popular or accepted professional term. The legally required use of the words “public information” rather than PR (U.S. federal government), strategic communications (Columbia School of Continuing Education), public affairs (YUM! Brands, Abbott) is tantamount to disavowal of the term public relations (PRSA).
Not all authors or organizations in the field have denied their roots. The field of public relations is defined by Caywood as “the profitable integration of an organization’s new and continuing relationships with stakeholders including customers by managing all communication contacts with the organization that create and protect the brand and reputation of the organization:. “Caywood, 1997 (Kindle Edition 2009) and “Public relations helps an organization and its publics
adapt mutually to each other.” 2009,)...
Clearly the value that PR proffers is to build two and multiple-way relationships between key institutional stakeholders such as: consumers, NGOs, employees, investors, community, government, press, religion, labor, competitors, suppliers, education and others (See Caywood in Calder, 2008 and Caywood 1997.) The stakeholder illustration below lists the range of stakeholder organizations that may have a “stake” in the success or failure of universities' offering a new degree. The list can be expanded to include departments and many more organizations.

Public relations like marketing, law and community organizing are often criticized for their advocacy of a single (one-way) point of view. However, the research and values of modern public relations and organizational communications has established the honest broker, exchange, credible, ethical and two-way and mutual exchange nature of the relationship. (Grunig et al. 1992 Excellence).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Preview of JIMC essay

For 20 years the Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications has been the policy, strategy and tactics voice of the Medill School’s Department of Integrated Marketing Communications. The JIMC has been supported by thousands of hours of volunteer time by IMC students and nearly 200 authors to produce its annual content. It has also been supported by more than 500 graduate students who raised more than a quarter of million dollars to fund 90% of the cost of the Journal’s publication. Over the last two decades, the distribution and readership have grown to a total of nearly eighty thousand.

IMC faculty are strengthening the communications standards of graduate (and now undergraduate) IMC education at Northwestern. The core graduate classes such as marketing are requiring that the graduate student be as strong in rigorous research methods (statistically analytical as well as ethnographically precise) as they are in persuasively communicating the results or interpretation of the research.

With this celebration comes a warning that the cost of graduate professional education may be exceeding its value and benefit to some students. My concern is not as a naysayer but as a professor concerned that the rapidly increasing tuition and total costs of graduate education are rapidly exceeding the value to the student of earning an advanced degree in management, journalism, law, education, IMC and other fields.

Of course the decision of the value of earning an advanced degree belongs to the student - not to the school. However, some schools need to reexamine the marginal costs of earning a degree from their programs. A recent article in The Economist (October 17th 2009) noted that, for the elite school MBA, “(t)he long term benefits sound substantial…But the short-term costs are also weighty.” The Economist concludes that “on balance, the benefits probably outweigh the cost, particularly in straitened times”. What The Economist surprisingly missed is even a rudimentary effort to help a student decision-maker to calculate the short-term and lifetime costs and benefits of an advanced degree. Ironically,the same skills to calculate the ROI are taught to our IMC students and many MBA students. However the corporate teaching does not offer a personal tool or widget for a student to “run the numbers”. I will quote a new graduate professional student from a midwestern public school that I spoke with recently. After I asked him if he had calculated the cost and value of his degree, he responded, “No, I assumed that a prestigious university and school would not offer a degree that was not economically viable”. His comment cut to the quick.

We should be terribly concerned for the future of colleges and universities that are either private or “pubvate” (historically public state universities embarrassingly nearly unfunded by state taxpayer dollars). The cost of education at a 6% increase for many years for my grandchildren or your children may well exceed any rational logic of earning an advanced degree or, even more frighteningly, an undergraduate degree. The necessary formula for a student to make an informed decision is on this blog as a “return-on-investment calculator. Of course educators and economists have long demonstrated the long-term value of graduate education. However, I don’t believe these generalized models are specific enough to permit a student to estimate the actual and expected costs for their decision. My colleague Jim Carey and I offer the interactive tool with the hope that students will find it useful to make a specific decision about a full-time or part-time advanced degree.

My confidence in the next generation is often stronger than my confidence in my own generation of educators and leaders who seem so dutifully wedded to the past trappings of higher education. We seem to still see the Gothic towers, large, tiered lecture halls, book driven libraries, full-time degrees, country club campuses, entertainment, upscale living units, restaurants and super sports for alumni as core purposes of an antiquated educational model.

I should probably leave my concerns to the next generation of university students, leaders and faculty in hopes that they will consider more part-time degrees, challenging digital distance learning and other learning and delivery systems. However, I don’t want to be worrying about this topic when I author the publisher’s essay for the JIMC’s 40th anniversary edition. Finally, for 2009 and 2010, please follow my best advice: Hire my students!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Teaching communications in MBA programs may be moot

Reference to debate over more PR being taught in MBA programs at

This is one of the longest discussions we have had on the evergreen topic. Given the economic realities of the market and the cost of education; I will argue that we may be too late to even include communications in business schools. First, I have some history for you.

Our A.W. Page B-School Committee has debated the topic for over a decade with all the frustrations demonstrated above. At a personal level most of you know that I moved from teaching at the Business School at Wisconsin-Madison to the Medill School of Journalism. With a joint doctorate in Business Management and in Journalism Mass Communications (PR and Advertising and similar joint undergraduate work), I was recruited to teach graduate PR, marketing and management. Our goal was to create the new Integrated Marketing Communications program in response to chaos in the industry and in Schools of Journalism and Communications. We knew that we could offer the best of a business management degree since we had been on the campus long before Kellogg and could make an agreement to use communications as the strategic field of study. We received a great deal of valued publicity when our work was attacked by the biggest academic names in Communications and PR for “getting in bed with marketing”.

We have not looked back since that time and have given students tremendous opportunities to use communications as a strategic advantage in business and complex organizations. Our agreement with the Kellogg School of Management (including joint appointments for IMC faculty there and in Engineering) have given our students a competitive advantage. Our students are “terminal degree” candidates with business and political experience like MBAs who don’t want to use the masters as a pre-doctoral degree. At Medill IMC we now offer a program for undergraduates in IMC with PR since Kellogg does not have an undergraduate degree (they have a very small certificate program for some undergrads).

However, in the business schools and other professional schools; the issue has dramatically changed. The private schools may face the issue of “return-on-investment” for a professional graduate degree not being worth the risk. Even the “pubvate” schools (a term for public schools that are no longer substantially supported by state aid) are raising tuition and fees more rapidly than the private schools. The issue is compounded the failure of state taxpayers and legislators to support higher education but to still muddle in the work of the university. For example, only 20% of the support for the University of Ilinois-Urbana is from state funding. The private schools like Northwestern consider all pubvates direct competitors for federal money, grants, alumni dollars, tuition. At many private schools and increasing numbers of pubvates tuition costs for an MBA or IMC degree exceed a reasonable payback period. I am developing a website “widget” for students to calculate before returning to school the real costs and benefits of a professional graduate degree. The breakeven point on the degree can be over a decade which means that many students may never pay back the degree costs from their career income. They also still have loans outstanding from their undergraduate work which I do not challenge with the ROI message. While education has some non-fiscal values, we are asking the same questions that allowed the preparation of economic impact and social impact statements on national and state legislation. My preliminary conclusions are that the only business related graduate degree that has a potentially positive ROI is a part-time degree that allows the student to work and avoid the opportunity costs of leaving their income producing job.

We can worry about communications being a critical function in business (and I agree) but the key issues are whether your companies will 1. support education and training for your employees, 2. how students can repay outrageous business degree costs (compared to your degree costs many years ago), 3. support higher wages for professional degree holder from MBA and IMC programs to get the talent you want, 4. support extensive research (not just case studies) on the real value of communications in business decision-making, crisis management, political risks to business, etc.

By Clarke L. Caywood, Ph.D. on October, 02 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Welcome to Chinese CEO Club

Welcome to Northwestern University and one of the classrooms that you will be visiting this week. My colleagues and I at Northwestern welcome you to one of the key centers of management, marketing and business education in the United States. For most of your time in Chicago you will be with your own classmates, but we will bring you together as we are doing this morning to listen to our most senior and prestigious faculty. For several business visits you will be with your classmates but for a unique visit to the Chicago Stock Exchange, a brand new opportunity to visit Navistar Headquarters who make international harvester trucks. You will hear from a manager Mr. Zheng on .....issues of world finance. You will also be together for a special wine party with several luxury stores including Louis Vitton and a Rolex jewelry store in a world class shopping mall.

During the week you will also visit Motorola for a meeting with their leadership as well as the world's largest publicly traded distribution company Grainger. There will be some variation in your You will be with Don Schultz this morning. Don Schultz who has been called been called one of the emperors of branding in a recent book featuring his work and the father of integrated marketing communications will speak with you this morning. Don has traveled all over the world and much of China.

You will discuss consumer marketing issues with Professor Bobby Calder from the Kellogg School of Management. Professor Calder is the author editor of a new book Kellogg on Advertising and Media and also the academic genius behind one of the most commonly used management and marketing research techniques -focus groups.

Using extremely productive Kellogg and Harvard cases you will be lead by Department Chairman in Kellogg and Professor Paul Hirsh. All our faculty including me have spent significant time teaching at EMBA programs in China, Asia and the rest of the world. I have taught MBA and IMC students for 30 years. While much of my work has been with business to business issues I also appear on television to speak about politics in the U.S. and the implications of politics and business.

During your visit to Chicago (how many of you is this the first time in Chicago) you will visit our beautiful new city park, take a boat tour to see our newest and historical skyscrapers, We will take you on a tour of our campus. NU is ranked one of the top dozen universities in the U.S. for undergraduates but we rank number one in many fields including Business, fields of engineering,theater, journalism, IMC. We know that you will want to come back to Chicago for the 2016 Olympics (we will know the city on Friday). We have many more corporations to visit, many more world class faculty and much, much more to see and eat.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Watch this space for a review of a debate on PR or Marketing - Who leads?

Welcome to the Graduate Class of 2010 Medill IMC Northwestern

As a member of the faculty, I have been welcoming you and your peers since 1989. My reason for coming to Northwestern was to build the new IMC program with my senior colleagues Martin Block, Ted Spiegel, Don Schultz and Paul Wang. Other faculty who are retired still advise us including Emeritus Professor Ray Ewing. Ray thankfully thought that I would be a good addition to Medill with my recent joint doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in both Business and in Mass Communications (PR and Advertising). Having taught marketing communications in schools of business, I was anxious to show students and business leaders that a program in marcom rather than only a single course would be of great value to them.

It is still our goal with new full-time faculty including senior faculty Frank Mulhern, Ed Malthouse,n to educate and train each class of this successful program that Kalyan Rama will allow you to lead in businesses and other organizations with your knowledge and skills in strategic communications. I will talk about our next generation, extremely gifted junior faculty in a forthcoming blog. No MBA candidate in the current class of 110,000 for 2010 or in past classes will have as much knowledge of business and strategic communications. No MBA will have as much knowledge of both customer purchase behavior databases and stakeholder databases of quotes, comments and promises as you will have in the next 15 months and 25 years.

I suggest that you consider some resources as part of your weekly personal assignment. And, I suggest that you write to as many of your colleagues from work, your classmates, family and friends in business to tell them where you are, what you are doing and when you will graduate. Share websites,articles, lecture notes or quotes with them over the next 15 months so they can help you handle the stress of graduate school and find job opportunities for you.

1. Consider the reading room in Medill for old fashioned "ink on paper" newspapers but use our IMC reading room, the computer station there or your laptop for current trade publications in IMC including public relations, advertising, direct marketing, interactive marketing, marketing and more.
2. Use the website for professional activities and job advice
3. Monitor this blog site IMCProf for IMC insights or Twitter "IMCProf" for more of my comments on IMC and life.
4. Sign-up today on and the IMC community on that site to maximize job and internship opportunities.
5. Read, and for top notch comments on the state of marcom and PR.
6. Go to,,,,,,, more to come
7. Watch the development of the new Integrated Marketing Communications Association (you are automatically members) by following their first summit on IMC and Branding at
8. Consider reading the books of your faculty on display in the glass case of IMC. We are a prolific faculty worth reading.
9. Work to create an IMC social action program (volunteers) to help others around the world while you are here. Take a look at as a possibility.
10. Sign-up for the Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications. It is the most successful, longest running independent IMC student program involving the greatest number of students. Be sure to attend the 2010 JIMC "launch" this Fall.

Welcome to Northwestern University, Medill and IMC. More to come.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Get away from your town to all the other "Americas"

It must be the most fascinating part of running for national office to criss-cross the country meeting with Americans. We teach at IMC that you must understand that most of the customers and stakeholders relevant to your organization are not like you. If you think health care and the stock market are the only topics in the U.S. you would be mistaken. Seven hours from Chicago via highway 90 to Rockford Illinois and then highway 20 to NW Iowa; the topics and focus changes. In Sac City and Fort Dodge, in Sac County and Kossuth County the topic is weather. Not the casual issue of “should I bring my umbrella to work?” but the land, crops, jobs and future conversation. Enter a weekend breakfast spot in Fort Dodge and listen to topics that most
Americans do not consider “talking points” or even see in their newspapers (which seem to still be read in rural communities). Corn, beans, energy alternatives, leasing fees for windmills ($5000-6000 per year for 50 years or a share of the kilowatt production). A “small continental divide in Western Iowa where some the land divides NS rivers flowing west to the Missouri or east to the Mississippi give some farms ideal positioning for capturing wind on higher points. Eminent Domain exercised by the State of Iowa for the expansion of State Highway 20 from 2 lanes to 4 to Nebraska. Discussions are about the logic of the DOT (Department of Transportation) policy of planning highways through the middle of rich farmland rather than on the margins or between farms. And, debates are constant over the value of land. The stock market, hedge funds and Ponzi schemes do not seem top of mind, but rich topsoil in NW Iowa from glaciers or blown by wind from the Missouri River basin a million years ago is on their minds. Top acreage with great drainage, county and farm tiles and satellite pictures of soil depth may sell for $6000 per acre or $3300 per acre in an auction. “Cash rent” paid by renters of hundreds or thousands of acres may be $200 per acre, earning 3% on the estimated value of the land taxed at $15 per acre and managed at 5% plus repairs etc. The future is based on increasing value of the land; not income. On other topics, diversity is defined as the Hispanic population increasing from 3% to 23% in the local schools over the past 20 years. Families talk about the loss of thousands of young people moving out of the area after earning their degrees at Iowa State, Iowa, University of Illinois and other schools. The importance of bio fuels in Iowa (and Illinois) does not make President Obama a popular figure and chaos over health care for the elderly has not helped his rankings. However, Obama’s visit to a local community grade school in 2008 is still the topic of discussion. It is still America; it is just a different one than your daily conversations might reveal.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Global Brand Summit GBS in Chicago growing October 20-21 With world-wide acknowledged branding and marketing professor Philip Kotler as keynote speaker, the Summit will be launched with the strongest possible message. Professor Kotler of the world famous Kellogg School of Management will discuss his recent work for the book "Chaotics - The Business of Managing and Marketing in the Age of Turbulence" with co-author John A. Caslione for AMACOM 2009. The bi-lateral business conference for 200 Chinese business leaders and 200 U.S. business leaders includes others key speakers such as Al Golin, founder and Chairman of Golin Harris (the MacDonald's brand reputation agency) and Michael Morley, former President of Edelman Worldwide and author of "Branding" with a highly relevant case study on the sale of the IBM brand ThinkPad to China's Lenovo. The conference continues to build around the concept of using a wide range of translators from the Kellogg and Medill School's Integrated Marketing Communications Departments (with Chinese students) to help U.S. and Chinese business leaders "strike business deals" or at least begin the relationship face-to-face. More to come.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Global Brand Summit in Chicago Oct. 20-21

My colleagues in the newly formed Integrated Marketing Communication Association are sponsoring with Peking University and a raft of China businesses a Global Brand Summit in Chicago Oct. 20-21. The program and details follow:

We have designed the Summit to host 200 Chinese executives and 200 U.S. executives and business owners. They will be coming to “do business” but also to be informed by the program content.

The test of possible speakers revealed that the Chinese wanted to hear from authors on branding and points of view of global and U.S. business.

2009 Global Brand Summit
Featured Speaker: PHILIP KOTLER
Kellogg School of Management

October 20-21, 2009

U.S. Organizers:

The China Association of National Advertisers
Journalism and Communications School, Beijing University

Phone: +1-847-465-8995
Fax: +1-847-465-9398

The 2009 Global Brand Summit (GBS) is a business and academic consortium of rapidly growing medium-size businesses, consultants and professional business educators from the U.S. and China. GBS fosters research and dissemination of knowledge on the impact of current economic trends in business. This includes brand building for organizations searching for new global partners, clients, and customers. Our most recent work has been a focus on China and the U.S.

The 2009 Global Brand Summit has invited 200 business men and women from China. This is the first time that the China Association of National Advertisers has sponsored an overseas conference. It is also a rare opportunity for U.S. business owners and executives to meet so many Chinese CEOs of both state-owned companies and smaller privately-held corporations to discuss business issues and opportunities.

For this year’s conference, the Integrated Marketing Communications Association will partner with the U.S.-China Brand Group, which has provided training programs to over 1,000 Chinese executives at Northwestern University. Past participants in U.S.-China Brand Group training seminars have commented on their experience as “the most rewarding experience in terms of providing global marketing insights and building business relationships.”

Major Chinese broadcast and print media are currently promoting this Summit. Coverage of the Summit will be broadcast via CCTV (China’s most prominent TV network), 21st Century Business Herald (newspapers) and (one of the most significant Web sites in China).

There are two key reasons to attend and participate in this two-day summit in downtown Chicago.

1. Build relationships for future business with Chinese and U.S. business leaders in roundtable sessions.
2. Discover new ideas on global product and service branding, co-branding and partnerships from world class leaders. One of the featured speakers will be Dr. Philip Kotler of the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.

Brand Information
We have asked business and academic speakers with world-wide reputations to address several questions for the Summit:

• How can a brand make a mark on the global stage?
• How does a brand flourish worldwide even under a global economic downturn?
• Does your organization have a clear sense of which global stakeholders are important to maximize brand visibility?

Business Brand Relationships
If your organization has plans to enter the Chinese market, or is contemplating a strategy to test the China market, this may be your best opportunity to meet with Chinese business men and women who are decision-makers.

• Joining the Summit here in Chicago saves you time and expenses.
• The 200 Chinese executives focus on relationship building.
• The Summit will better prepare you for your business trip to China.

This unique international branding summit draws together powerful brand leaders and companies including Lenovo, Kraft, Boeing, and Motorola, as well as some prominent Chinese companies, such as Baidu, China Merchant Bank, Chery Automotive and Tsingtao Beer. These companies have adopted a global mindset to share the secrets behind their well-conceived business positioning in building international presence.

The two-day event will also introduce you and your team to other leaders of more medium-sized companies currently developing business-to-business and consumer brands. All participants can benefit from new global relationships in distribution, manufacturing and retailing. The 2009 Global Brand Summit focuses on true sharing and practical "how to" actions.

Dates: Oct. 20-21, 2009
Location: Hyatt Regency Chicago, U.S.A.
Registration fee: $859

【Oct 20, 2009 Day One】
7:00-8:30 Registration
8:30-8:50 Opening Ceremony
Hosts: Professor Clarke Caywood, Ph.D., Integrated Marketing Communications Department, Northwestern University
_____, Chair of China Association of National Advertisers
8:50-9:00 Introduction of Keynote Speaker by Sponsor or Professor Clarke Caywood, Northwestern University
9:00 – 10:00 Keynote Speaker: Philip Kotler, Ph.D., S.C. Johnson & Son Professor of Marketing,
Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
Topic: “Managing Your Brand in Chaotic Times” (from his book Chaotics:
The Business of Managing and Marketing in the Age of Turbulence)
10:00-11:00 First Panel Discussion (4 panelists): “High-risk Times and Brand Reinvention”
Host: Professor Philip Kotler, Northwestern University
Advertising Agency Representative: Ye Maozhong, Nike Brand Director (China)
Corporate Representative: Kraft or P&G Brand Director (U.S.)
11:00 – 11:30 Coffee/Tea Break
11:30 – 12:30 Speaker: Ma Weihua, CEO, China Merchants Bank
Topic: “Brand Value Drive: Intangible Benefits”
12:30-13:45 Lunch
13:45-14:45 Introduction by Sponsor or Host
Speaker: Robin Li, CEO, Baidu
Topic: “Challenges and Opportunities for Brand Communications in the New Media Era”
14:45-15:50 Introduction by Sponsor or Host
Speaker: Al Golin, Founder of Golin Harris or Jack Ma, CEO,
Topic: “Trends in Global Business Communications”
15:50-16:10 Coffee/Tea Break
16:10-17:30 Business Roundtable/Corporate and Participant Meetings
17:30-19:30 Dinner Party with Entertainment

【Oct 21, 2009 Day 2】
9:00 – 9:45 Introduction by Sponsor or Host
Speaker: Professor Bobby Calder, Ph.D., Charles H. Kellstadt Chair, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
Topic: “Globalization, Localization and Brand Reinvention”
9:45 – 10:45 Introduction by Sponsor or Host
Speaker: Yin Tongyao, CEO, Chery Automobile Co.
Keynote Speech: “Challenges for Global Brands in the New Automobile Industry”
10:45 – 11:10 Coffee/Tea Break
11:10 – 11:55 Third Panel Discussion: “Creating Media and Brand Creative Communications”
Moderator: Professor Clarke Caywood, Northwestern University
Panelists: Advertising Agency Representatives: Song Yimin, Ogilvy T.B. (China) &
DDB Needham (U.S.)
Corporate Representatives: Tsingtao Beer (China) & Harley Davidson (U.S.)
Sanjay Jha, Co-CEO, Motorola
Shigeo Okazaki, Managing Director and Executive Brand Consultant, Strategic Resource Center, Dentsu Beijing
Beck (Author of Risk Society)
(or) W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne (authors of Blue Ocean Strategy)
11:55 – 12:10 Closing Ceremony Remarks: Richard M. Daley, Mayor of Chicago
or Mark Kirk, U.S Representative
or Donald Tung(HK Trade Commissioner)
12:10 – 13:30 Lunch
13:30--15:30 Business-matching Roundtable (8 panels taking place simultaneously)
Panel 1: “Global Banking Barriers”
Panel 2: “Branding Consultant Values”
Panel 3: “Global Legal Hurdles”
Panel 4: “What about a Global Sales Force?”
Panel 5: “Trade Association Support in China”
Panel 6: “Supply Chain Efficiency”
Panel 7: “Protecting Your Brand from Crisis”
Panel 8: “Cultural Challenges to Overcome”
15:30 and after Networking
• Executives and owners of medium and selected small American brands, venture capitalists, advertising agencies and legal professionals
• Executives of top large and medium-sized Chinese brands and start-ups, advertising agencies and media industry professionals
• Target number of participants: 400 in total
200 from the U.S.
200 from China
• Chinese participants’ profile shown in pie charts

Monday, June 22, 2009

For my readers who have sponsored individual residencies for the 11 week summer program at NU's IMC graduate program for over 22 years (and donated over $2.2 million based upon the sponsorship of my IMC PR students). Also for alumni to comment on the change from individual to team projects for the summers.

1.Consider Alternative models to teach from a think tank (e.g. opposition strategy research (White House), opposition research (all political campaigns) de-positioning plans (Silicone Valley)).
2.We might give the students an intensive true creative agency or creative unit experience and assignment to broaden our work in IMC.
3.We might send the teams into the SBU level for some period of time to really understand the business.
4.Perhaps some teams ought to work on a project that really challenges them: heavy communications where communications is not their strength or heavy numbers where numbers are their weakness - to bolster their education.
5. Not-for-Profit projects often give you access to higher officials and greater impact - though we used to waive fees 6. The new University President could benefit from an IMC review.
7. Students might master industry software and then offer a "shoot out" or competition at the end of summer 8. Students might work on a project and then work with J. students to use editorial research method to understand j. risks.
9. Students might work on a national competition in marketing, business, - several are available though timing is an issue.
10. Students might work with engineering students or Transportation Center students on doctoral level or technical projects needing marketing communications or communications.
11. Rather than using a four step model or one of the other strategic models; the students should concentrate on only one very, very deep facet of a project.
12. Students should operate as a skunk works mirror team for any number of agencies or company projects. Rapid work would be demanded.
13. On a number of the projects the students can be organized to develop a. IMC literature searches, b. global IMC lit. searches, c. database libraries, d. software libraries and tests, e. theory-tool inventories of the IMC program, f. more 14. Conduct transparent research that is written to be presented at academic and industry seminars by the students for greater awareness 15. Publish the work on a PDF or printed format as an exercise and follow-up to the presentation.
16. Revamp all the ideas above for publication, presentation in China or other relevant countries
Some ideas for readers to comment upon - a course at Northwestern on Business Lessons from Politics Using the 2007-2008 U.S. Presidential Campaigns:
Title: IMC Lessons from Politics and Policy – 2007-2009
Marketers and communicators are more aware than ever of the impact of IMC on the 2008 Presidential election and the continued communications by the White House ( Some experts say the Obama campaign stands as the most outstanding strategic marketing and communications plan and program in history. What are the examples and evidence of the campaign’s success? What are the lessons from 2007 to 2009 that business leaders, not-for-profit leaders and political managers will need to know for achieving fundraising, volunteer or corporate social responsibility goals? The bar has been raised for client and professional expectations on IMC marketing plans and continuous campaigns. Parts of the dozen books already published on the campaign, along with research supporting the campaign decisions document the value of new marketing strategies. The class will work with political and policy business and political campaign experts to analyze the campaign with lessons for IMC practitioners in mind. The course will also provide insight to the role of government and business working on common issues and policies that will dominate the conversations between business and government over the next 3-8 years. The course planning committee includes a former Governor, an IMC graduate who is a political consultant, other communications professionals who work on campaigns and business accounts and the professor with several years of campaign and public office experience along with research and public commentary experience for the media.
Possible Readings
Barack, Inc.: Winning Business Lessons of the Obama Campaign by Barry Libert and Rick Faulk (Hardcover - Jan 15, 2009) Buy new: $19.99 $13.59 (84)
How Obama Won by Earl Ofari Hutchinson (Paperback - Dec 18, 2008 $13.95
Campaign Advertising and American Democracy by Michael M. Franz, Paul B. Freedman, Kenneth M. Goldstein, and Travis N. Ridout (Paperback - Nov 28, 2007)
Campaigning for Hearts and Minds: How Emotional Appeals in Political Ads Work (Studies in Communication, Media, and Public Opinion) by Ted Brader (Paperback - Jan 1, 2006) (3)
The SAGE Handbook of Political Advertising by Dr. Lynda Lee Kaid and Christina Holtz-Bacha (Hardcover - Jun 14, 2006)
“Campaigns and Elections: Politics” campaign industry publication. E.g. “Case Study-Integrating Old and New Media June 2009. (compilation of 58 years of political broadcast advertising and web ads,, ( organizing for America).
Other consulting sites, directories, sources from industry and the web.
Industry and academic research articles from the instructor.
Optional: Mobilizing Generation 2.0: A Practical Guide to Using Web2.0 Technologies to Recruit, Organize and Engage Youth by Ben Rigby and Rock the Vote (Paperback - April 25, 2008)

Suggested Topics for lectures, research topics, speakers and discussion:
Chronology of the 2007-2008 Presidential Campaign: How Presidential Political Planning Works
IMC in Campaigns: A short history of campaign communications
Controversy about political advertising and communications: First Amendment Threats and Protection
Does political communication work? How much does it cost?
Social Media Applications in the Democrat 2008 Primaries
Traditional Campaigns – Hillary Clinton
New Politics Campaign – Barack Obama
Where were the Republicans?
Is the 2008 Campaign an Aberration?
Measuring Political Campaigns – During the Campaign and Controversy
Changing strategies and tactics mid-stream based on
instant polls and analytics
Staying the course – Theory of Leadership
Political and Corporate Corruption
Lessons from Campaigns for Business
The CEO as a public figure and the public corporation
Mobilizing voter consumers (VC) old and new school
Does Negative Political Advertising and Campaigning Work? Should Business Use it?
Campaign Transparency
Self-correcting campaigns
Does political financing of business = business financing of politics?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Comments on a prestigious University expanding its degree programs in a unique and admirable way (name of the School is removed). Agencies like Edelman, Ketchum, Fleishman Hillard, may find the new degrees of interest to their HR plans.

"Other schools would benefit from this school's approach to educational planning. Their response to the strategic and applied communication education market is a credit to their insight into the demand for professional education over the past 5 years. Their initial response to create a strategic program for more experienced professionals seeking to advance in their field or develop new business communications knowledge for corporate, agency, government or not-for-profit organizations was timely as the field was growing at 9 percent per year. The School has established a recognized position in an enviable leading communication industry and professional market. They allowed the program to mature, attract students, build a reputation and attract senior clinical faculty.

As the market changed; they did not simply rest or exploit the new demand that would change the character of their strategic program. Unlike others have done in similar programs, they reanalyzed the market and with determination and decided to offer a new, advanced degree program that met the needs of the market of younger and more international students. Rather than simply muddle the program they had created for a more experienced and older market (similar to what was done in superior MBA programs) they recognized and redefined their educational mission to serve the newer applicant pool.

The extraordinary demand for an American university education from students in China and other countries in Asia was seen by the faculty and administration as a new market rather than simply more applicants to fill a program that was not suited to the Asian applicants. (I spend 20 days and more in China each year with several faculty courtesy appointments). The team also saw the demand of younger, more recent college graduates as different from the interest of the pool of applicants served by the established master’s degree. Instead of watering down their existing degree with students who can benefit from and earn a graduate degree, they realized that the knowledge and skills that needed to be “mastered” were different from the knowledge and skills of the strategic degree.

While the distinct cultural experience of international students is often of great value to a class of sometimes parochial Americans, the barriers to learning in the field of communications are often tied to the namesake of the field. As with any other professional field, the skills and knowledge needed to succeed early in a communications career are demanding and core to the grasp of the professional practice and concept building. An approach we utilize at Northwestern is to identify theories or concepts that are more universal and examples of best thinking by business and other organizational leaders. The concepts, while very helpful to articulating why a specific action may be taken, are not sufficient. In a professional field as far ranging and dependent on so many social science bodies of knowledge, statistics and mathematics; a comprehensive degree at the masters level much match concept with tactics.

For the professional students without work experience or a portfolio of written and creative work, their degree work must direct them to accomplish the concepts and practices of the field. For students with a newer acquired command of business English and less experience in the Western business environment; their education and training must emphasize a few powerful theories and even more tactical skills to demonstrate their grasp of the advanced fundamentals of the field. It would be my belief that the new generation of students would receive an education that would emphasize more application of tools and tactics but still make sure they are grounded in very carefully selected theories or concept. The ratio for the applied degree might be 30% theories and concepts matched with 60% tactics and tools directly related to the concepts taught. While all tools and tactics should be based on a concept to explain why the tactic is being used, not all theories have incumbent tactics. The other advanced degree with different objectives for a different set of masters candidates may be 70% theories and concepts (sometimes called strategies in business) and 30% knowledge and application of skills (tools and concepts).

This model gives me a strong reason to agree that two master’s degrees with different objectives can co-exist in the same school exploring the same widely defined topic – communications. The School is taking a stronger approach to the education of the next generation of business leaders who will use communications as a strategic and tactical advantage in the marketplace of ideas, products and services.

Rather than entering the market at a “lower” level (as some might interpret their actions), the educational plan, courses and faculty illustrate the intellectual and practical benefit of distinguishing between the two slightly parallel degrees and timely degrees. The degree opens the world of conceptual and applied communications to a wider range of holders of a wide range of bachelor’s degrees. The degree is a superior model in which many students can begin their careers in an increasing specialized world with advanced work.

In summary, the school’s identification and definition of a professional degree for less experienced candidates with the desire to “master” a subject is an appropriate degree at an applied level in a strong university environment. I fully expect that selected topics of the strategic communications degree will “trickle down” as new knowledge is created and tested in that degree. I expect that a number of joint opportunities will be conceived of notable guest speakers from industry and academe, possible mentoring by the older master’s students on complex projects but also tutoring by the younger students on some of the quantitative work and tactics that they share. Some form of joint field trips to advanced agencies or practices of the strategic students might be bonding. I hope that the Applied students would be considered by the strategic students who are working for their firms. Their common and overlapping education would be a great recommendation for employment and the joint interest into the Columbia model would be a productive value to share. A single joint team project at the end of their coursework might be conceived to have them work as a comprehensive team of strategists and applied experts.

The strongest possible effort must be documented and practiced to give both sets of students equal respect and equal rewards to meet their goals. The culture of the School should reflect the efforts of the faculty and administration to demonstrate that the degrees are both master’s of communications. The distinction should be goal driven and important to the students as they master elements of knowledge and skills of a wide and deep discipline.

The educational nostrum that education should prepare students for their third job or for a job that has not been created sometimes belies the value of the widely ranging baccalaureate degrees of the candidates, the rich nature of the media covering topics that might have only been found in advanced curriculum, and the life-time learning goals of students. School faculty and administrators have carefully defined a professional communications degree in two categories which should lead and define the field among their competitors but mostly to the advantage of their students. While other schools, including Northwestern, force the faculty to select from only one degree in strategic and applied business communications (Integrated Marketing Communications in the Medill School); this school can logically attract a wider range of students. The Medill IMC program was judged in the competitive analysis as a "marketing program" not a "communication" program despite the title Integrated Marketing Communications.

Finally, the idea of a dual track master’s programs in strategic and applied communications seems to be a superior model to attract a wider range of holders of the baccalaureate degree in a wider range of topics rather than those with “pre-professional” degrees. I have confidence in the faculty to carefully and continuously monitor the distance between the two degrees, the standards for admission, planned overlaps, and joint learning opportunities. This monitoring of an original new degree mix will be served by experience, testing, occasional failures and frequent faculty reviews to create true distinction between the degrees but a long term goal of finding important similarities and even dual master’s earned by very selected students over time."

Press Interview on ABC-TV Chicago Sotomayor and Burris is a civics and serious public relations (or public affairs) lesson on the nature of candidates for nomination of any government post. I won't agree with a colleague who lavishly praised the President as "trying to be the perfect President" with his appointment of Sotomayor (a professor should be less effusive), but I credit the President with a choice he wants and the experience that may make it hard to reject unless contradictions come to light. Like Robert Bork who was rejected by the Senate on Oct. 23, 1987 (he was one of 36 Supreme Court nominations rejected since 1789); Judge Sotomayor has a long, notable record of written work and opinions developed over many career years. The New Haven Firefighter case is only the most recent controversial case that could haunt her. Most policy decision makers including business leaders have acted, spoken or written something over a long career of decision-making that may seem inconsistent 20 years later. Bork, as a young assistant law professor, wrote about ideas and research that came back to haunt him many, many years later. The process if vetting a Supreme Court Justice for a lifetime appointment, like the process of granting tenure to a university professor, is arduous, detailed, biased and not always fair. Between May 2009 and August 2009, the process is a great civics lesson for visiting international students, for the proverbial 6th grader and for voting adults who need to be reminded that this appointment is not a tabloid topic in US magazine for a week.

Senator Burris (D. IL) is on the roasting spit again. While it is always difficult to fill in the words between the recorded "umms, ahs, you know, that thing, yes, OK, then" etc. the Senator's words over the phone with the former Governor's brother will be parsed carefully. Having edited a book on mergers and acquisitions for Prentice-Hall many years ago (1992). I know that it is very hard to make sense out of spoken speeches and panel comments. We don't speak in complete sentences or even speak with complete thoughts. Still, the Senator should find a meaningful project to keep him busy during this last year as a U.S. Senator and step aside for a open election of reform candidates. Burris is the old guard. He is "not as bad as some" but what kind of a recommendation is that for a U.S. Senator? Unlike the considered conclusion of Richard Edelman that dull may be a good trait for a CEO; the press, public, pundits and others run with sharp knives that must keep public figures sharp as well. I would proffer that most CEOs of public companies are "public figures" too like Judge Sotomayor and Senator Burris. The CEO's may not like the comparison, but their desire to be green, to be diverse, use public funds, to be trusted all demand a public persona and actions.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Can you help? See Theories and Tools Table at the end.

Our assignment is to suggest to the IMC faculty that some functional areas of PR can be taught in modules and that some more advanced courses can include ideas like transparency or trust but also match to teaching tools or tactics at a very practical level. Lately, a debate has been "raging" that the IMC program is more marketing-based than communications-based due to the loss of knowledge and skills of the students in communications. We need your help to sort out this debate with new ideas for the education and training of our graduate and undergraduate students.

The list below is a very primitive view of the world that I have: "All business and organizational tactics or applied tools must emanate from a theory or concept or they would not exist, e.g. stakeholder maps as tools come from the literature of stakeholders, audiences, power, networks, influence, etc." The learning objective must be that the students know "why" they select a tool to use; not just "how" to use the tool. Some theories like "authenticity" or "trust" may or may not have a developed and tested tool that helps to operationalize the concept.

Here is where the fun begins. Can you suggest from your education (sociology, psychology, marketing, communications, law, management, motorcycle repair, economics, neuroscience) theories or concepts and their related tactics or tools like the table below? If you can't match a theory and tool, can you just list both and we can match them up later?

Modules and or courses in areas from the past. Some courses now offered, but still need help. Topics in BOLD
are currently in the curriculum. Others were offered when PR was a fully staffed program in Medill.

Current and Past Courses in PR or Corpcomm.
1. Media relations
2. Employee relations
3. Public Affairs, Issues Management
4. Crisis management
5. Speech writing
6. Media and business writing
7. Investor Relations and Legal Issues (Sarbannes-Oxley and regs)
8. Stakeholders and Social Media Communities
9. Media and marketing law
10. Marketing Public Relations (product service sales)

11. Organizational Change Management

Other courses in IMC as required for all student in bold and the others are optional or electives
1. Marketing
2. Marketing Finance
3. Statistics 1 and 2
4. Database Analysis
and advanced Database Analysis
5.Creative Strategy (not art but process)
6. Advertising cases
7. On-line and Internet marketing
8. Capstone IMC course
9. International IMC
10. Branding
11. Loyalty marketing
12. Consumer Behavior and Insight

Resources at NU and from the Work of the Department
1. Lexis/Nexis, Factiva full services and free at library and on-line
2. Bacon's on-line
3. Biz360, VMS-Info data tracking of media and social media
4. statistics including descriptive and analytical SPSS, SAS
5. MRI data on-line with custom runs
7. Clients (Southwest Air, YUM!, Coke, Whirlpool, Banks, law firms, Miller Brewing, etc.)
8. Non-disclosure agreements to do confidential work
9. Summer residencies and other full scale group and team projects
10. International, primarily Asian, students
11. Students with agency and corporate experience
12. Unlimited Internet access
13. Training in blogs, Second Life, Data Depot and a wide range of newer media tools
14. Micro-soft suites, Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, e-mails,
15. Facebook, LinkedIn, Tokoni, Skype, Doostang, Plaxo, Myspace, Pownce, Twitter, Spock, etc.
16. Aggregators (moving target) Akregator · Blam! · BlogBridge · BottomFeeder · Canto · Cooliris · eSobi · FeedDemon · Feedreader · Feedview · FreeRange WebReader · Hubdog · Liferea · mDigger · Mercury Messenger · Mindity · NetNewsWire · NewsAccess · NewsBreak · Newsbeuter · NewsFire · NewsFox · RSS Bandit · RSSOwl · Sage · Snarfer · Thinfeeder · Vienna
17. Resources of the Artificial Intelligence Lab at NU (18. Silver Anvil entries each year in many categories in full binder form
19. Various trade pubs including PR Tactics, PRWeek, etc.
20. Basic knowledge of marketing finance and accounting.
21. Use of the full Avid television studio for media training and editing at Medill
22. Access to professional association meetings in Chicago (PRSA, IABC, WIC, BMA, AMA, etc.)
23. Access to research documents of A.W. Page, Edelman, others.
24. Teaching by adjunct part-time faculty and visiting lecturers and possibly full-time faculty


Theory/Concept: Tool/Tactic/Application
Persuasion: web, media audits "on message"
Stakeholders: Stakeholder maps and dynamics
Social Networks: new(er) social media including Second Life
Crowds and mobs: Crowd sourcing, Wisdom of the crowds applications
Collaboration: new telecommunications, Skype
Elites: elite and influentials
Transparency, Trust: trust studies (Edelman Barometers),
Reputation: journalism, surveys, rankings
Authenticity: A.W. Page study
Power: forms of power
Business and Government: lobbying, association management
Journalism PR Values: ethics, codes, values
First Amendment: codes, public figures, PR Ads
Futurism: issues management, predictive models
Game Theory risk analysis
Digital: large samples media tracking systems
Best Practices: communications audits and Silver Anvil review
IR: reading annual reports, performance ratios
Neuroscience: brain scans for "hot spots"

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Daivd Walker former Comptroller General of US comments

He began with a speech device that worked to describe a 300 year organization that exists without a plan, without outcome metrics and without competitive data. His litany of debt, revenue, missteps and tomfoolery awakened the post lunch audience to realize that it was the U.S. he described. His most memorable word was "laggership" the opposite of leadership to define the actions of the U.S. Congress and Administration. He usefully refers the audience to for unbiased, non-partisan information. For my students, he often used the term "young people" (18-36 related to the Foundation work)who must become involved with linking business with other institutions more in the traditions of previous decades. Watch for development here of a future seminar on coalitions of the future at NU.

In Hangzhou, China on West Lake, a group of CEOs met to listen to the American professor returning after only 3 months to stand by his predictions of a rapidly sloping economy. The metaphor that rang true with these Chinese business leaders was of the world economy being more like the Chinese Year of the ox where a laborious economic return very unlike the spiked fall would be the example. Not a bull, but an ox.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Xiamen University EMBA program in Integrated Marketing Communications

One of the privileges of being a professor is the freedom to be an academic entrepreneur. Tonight in Xiamen China (a beautiful city on the China east coast near Taiwan), we celebrated the creation of an executive MBA (for senior managers and owners of corporations) that emphasizes integrated marketing communications (IMC). My colleague and former student, Kevin Mao, and I opened discussions with Xiamen University' Graduate School of Management 2 years ago. With the cooperation of the faculty of IMC; we will begin to teach classes in the Graduate School of Management at the highly rated Xiamen University on IMC. Thirty-five excited EMBA students (including more than one Chinese millionaire, two newspaper reporter and the Channel 2 Xiamen (Business), a University Vice-President and various deans experienced a dedication to studies over the next two years. IMC and selected Kellogg faculty will come to Xiamen beginning this Fall to teach in an intensive 2-4 days the EMBAs. While the degree and course granted is strictly from Xiamen University; the support given by our IMC and NU faculty has encouraged the first IMC program in China. I spoke to the group about research supporting their actions, trends in social media giving them new strategies and tools for marketing and communications and the fact that Northwestern's IMC program graduates over 30 Chinese students each year who should be excited to find CEO's of Chinese corporations who understand IMC hiring in the future.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Edelman Trust Barometer and the Future of Universities

This week in Chicago the John Edelman of Edelman Worldwide presented with colleagues the annual Trust Barometer. The results are viewable at and The work is a valuable annual addition to how influentials think about our common institutions. Naturally, you might say, business, media, government and other institutions have declined in their trustworthiness. While academics and experts have actually risen in individual standing; I am deeply concerned that the institution of higher education and universities and colleges will suffer from dramatic losses in trust in the future. I hope to persuade Richard to add questions to test my hypothesis.

One issue that is constantly facing them is the significant increases in tuition year by year over the past two decades. A number of private universities have increased tuition by 6% each year for over a decade. While it seem impossible a simple extrapolation of that growth rate would mean that my unborn grandchildren may pay (or a trust fund I could set up) $200,000 per year rather than under $50,000 now per year for tuition. I know that such statistics defy logic and usually result in population projections of humankind standing cheek to jowl. Of course, usually disease, war and other moderating factors prevent such straight line growth. I recently faced the reality of the trend when for the summer of 2009 tuition and support for our graduate students seemed to require a $17,000 fee. This is the equivalent of an $80,000 job. If you consider the economy (shouldn't we) it seems like an impossible number. So, we have more wisely decided to offer the students for 11 weeks at much lower rates. They still offer a wide range of advanced skills in database management, statistical analysis, strong writing skills, media measurement knowledge and tools. They clearly represent the future of marketing communications including public relations, advertising, direct database marketing, marketing analytics. A number of our students (50%) are from other nations. They can be immensely productive and useful for global thinking, knowledge and planning. I digress.

While the tuition issue is crucial; other issues that may rear their ugly head include: a. discovery that public colleagues are paying a finder as a percent of tuition to Chinese businesses to send them Chinese freshmen and women. This may upset taxpayers who think their children have a right to the frosh spots. (They may forget that their state taxpayer dollars only pay for about 15% of the costs of running their "state university". In the trade we sometimes refer to these schools as "pubvates" or public private schools since they are no longer substantially supported by the states. b. a public debate from the Presidential level that all students have a right to a college education when we face such shortages of educated and trained skilled labor that universities cannot possibly provide. c. an rapidly ageing university teacher population that will be difficult to replace given pathetically low salaries in all areas but high technology and business. A counter trend will be the need for many faculty to stay beyond the age of their expected retirement due to the recent disaster of the world economy. More to come on the future of universities.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The day of President Obama's inauguration and the departure of former President Bush, was a safe celebration. It was clearly a reward for the thousands and thousands of the new political activists and voters who found "hope" in the Obama message, style and substance. The visual message of the crowd must have been astounding to the new President and to the professionals in the military and law enforcement who made it a safe day. All the reviewers were articulate on his message, but one message that I noted was not discussed was his chastising of politics. With a Biblical reference President Obama called for the Congress (and I think Illinois in a subtle way) to give up childish ways. The most worrisome phrase in politics, I think, is to "play politics". Politics as a serious and generally successful process in the U.S. has been the "game" in Washington, the states, counties and cities rather than the facilitation process to deliver outstanding policy decisions. The President noted (to the former President and others) that the "ground has shifted" under the system and that new approaches and attitudes are needed. It is difficult to know that a new model might look like and whether it might be dangerous, but it is not difficult to believe that the substance of politics can be more professional, less personality driven and more authentic. Next, an analysis of the President's speech in terms of the "authentic enterprise" from study by the same name from class preparation this week.
My affiliation with ABC's WLS-TV in Chicago has been lively in 2008-2009. Who wouldn't want to get out of bed at 4 a.m. 15 or more times during the presidential campaign and the aftermath? Somewhere begin the creative messages of advertising, the lede of a press release, or the offer of a on-line or print direct promotional; the 3 minutes on-air gives the audience, the interviewer and interviewee a challenge to summarize and find the most poignant ideas to review. The challenge after the election was to provide insight to the corruption charges and impeachment process against the current governor of Illinois - Rod Blagojevich. We were also in a muddle of political game playing in Illinois over the appointment of Roland Burris to become the new junior Senator of Illinois to replace Barack Obama as he assumed the role of President. So, it was a relief to be asked to anticipate the inaugural events and to summarize the event the day after.
The day before: Asked by on-air reporter and talent Judy Hsu "What will we hear in today's speech?" and "what other inaugural themes is he pulling from?": I noted that the audience would hear a continuation of the successful campaign messages (why change?). It was likely to be inclusive, progressive and authentic. I suggested that we might listen for a subtle criticism of Illinois politics which continued to embarrass Obama after the election. Themes from the John F. Kennedy inaugural speech ("ask not") and the same for Franklin D. Roosevelt ("fear itself") were touted by the press as likely messages (and an expectation that Obama would meet the same or higher standards. Now, that's pressure! Obama did indirectly reference JFK by asking us to "pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off" and his request for us to serve. He also invoked fear as a concept to overcome. Asked "How long until 'honeymoon's over': The phrase is applied to CEO's, Mao and presidents. Of course the phrase and the time will depend on other events - in Obama's case the economy. More on the day of the inauguration.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Returning from China and from my home state Wisconsin prepared me to comment on the chaos of Illinois politics that continues here. My friends in China (to my embarrassment) wanted to better understand the concept of "pay for play" in our form of government and my life-long political friends in Wisconsin wanted to watch me squirm and defend my adopted state of Illinois. The folly of political activities in Illinois is not worth defending recently. The State needs a complete overhaul of it's priorities, leadership and processes.

The legislature including the Senate and House have created their own "natural disaster" that will leave the recent voters who were so excited by the election of Illinois' junior Senator Barack Obama to the Presidency with a bitter memory of selfish leadership. As the President-elect selected his cabinet and policy advisers in December; I expressed my concerns as a political pundit for ABC TV in Chicago (WLS) that the Illinois Democrats would embarrass the President-elect and detract from his extremely serious agenda on the domestic front and world stage.

With my second appearance this week on WLS-TV to discuss for a very few minutes the barriers to the appointment of Roland Burris to the Senate of the U.S. for Illinois; the issues are still in limbo. Burris, a good man, but not the most likely to be elected or even appointed to the Senate was willing to put himself in "harm's way" when the current sitting Governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich acted mostly legally to appoint Burris to replace President-elect Barack Obama in the Senate. Burris has a record of seeking (mostly unsuccessfully) higher office in this state, but also has a seemingly unimpeachable record that gives him higher ground to stand on during most mud fights in ethically troubled Illinois politics and government.

As the story unfolds there is slightly more Congressional support developing to seat Roland Burris this week (including Diane Feinstein D-CA). The logical request to Sec. of State Jesse White to sign the documents necessary to certify the Governor's seemingly legal but thinly disguised effort to distract attention from his own impeachment threats is likely to occur this week.

This blog effort was just interupted by a call from ABC to return on Friday a.m. at 5:50 to follow up on likely actions on behalf of Burris and Illinois.

The most important issue that must be addressed by all citizens is the failure of the Illinois legislature to act on the "business of the state" for the benefit of the citizens. We have issues that must be resolved that the Democrat leadership and control of both houses and the executive branch of Illinois have not addressed. More on why this power combination is bad for Illinois next.