Attending BDI’s Global Communcations Conference 2008: Connecting Across Borders and Understanding Cultural Differences. I’ve been tracking BDI’s activity over the past few years and am excited to be here. The event feels very much like a “stand +deliver” format. The presenters so far seem knowledgeable and smart.
First up was Marco Franca, VP/Latin America for PR Newswire. Franca built his presentation around a rubric: PEST [Political, Economics, Social, Technology], stressing the differences between cultures in LA + USA. Moreover that LA is a mass of nations where family comes first + relationships are important.
Next up, Michael Moeller, Director Corporate Public Relations of Xerox. He presented a case study describing the mega-brand’s strategy for transitioning from a “copy machine” company. It appears that the repositioning was successful as measured by press impressions. No one in the audience heard what the new products are other than document handling and software. Hmmmmmm……I’ll advise my friends at Adobe that another enterprise is available for an M+A play.
Linda Recupero + Heather Malkin Nesle [both of HSBC] presented a case study on their corporation’s CSR inititative — and yes, their going for the low hanging Green fruit. They get philanthropy right, by engaging the likes of the Smithsonian, Earthwatch, World Wildlife and others as experts, not just beneficiaries of corporate guilt. Employees throughout the global enterprise may partake in experiential learning programs, hopefully embodying the cause. When asked about benchmarks governing the bank’s investments, and specifically regarding MNEs doing work in dangerous places with human rights abuses, the respondents deflected the conversation back to green…..it is a tough question which few want to go near and one that none-the-less needs to be addressed.
Maryanne Foley of Harris Interactive raised some provocative questions, challenging marketers to think about the next dialogue: the one that goes beyond TV + Web and considers the panoply resulting in the “most dynamic marketing environment we’ve ever seen”. When faced with a new frontier she suggests falling back on the old standards, “What are your objectives? How can you best measure them?’. Brian Lott from Burston-Marstellar posed: “Are there any devices that are an anathema to measurement?”, framed in perspective of markets that may have leapfrogged “our” plethora of legacy technologies. A good session.
Breakout: Using Web Video to Connect Globally — Lot’s of talk ’bout technology + business challenges that need to be addressed: bandwidth, licensing. Tangents of course to watch case studies produced by the respondents. VNRs on steroids = Multimedia News Releases for distribution across a plethora of channels from TV and Newspapers to niche verticals and communities. [Moderator: Tejpaul Bhatia, CEO, MediaMerx; Matt DeLoca, Vice President of Sales, The FeedRoom; John Greenberg, President and Co-Founder, Goodmind; Todd Grossman, Vice President of Sales and Client Services, MultiVu; Doug Simon, President and CEO, D S Simon Productions Inc.].
Breakout: Building Community and Collaboration with Global Customers — Engaging customers in a dialogue has to be authentic. Stakeholders can sniff out crap from a mile away. Consumers are allergic to “corporate/PR/marketing speak”. And in our immediate media world this trend is global — not only U.S. Rachel told a great story about a new product being developed for the Japan market: a bluetooth headset that’s attractive to women that they can wear as a ring on their finger! Brian relayed how the CEO of B-M responded with a blog entry on the day of the recent Chinese earthquake. Michael shared how products can be customized for different global markets, giving the example of an Elvis boxed-set. Moderator: C. David Gammel, President, High Context Consulting, LLC; Brian Lott, Managing Director, Burston-Marsteller; Michael Omansky, Associate Professor, Felician College; Rachel Weingarten, President, GTK Marketing Group.
All in all a pleasant day. Not the ground shaking emotional connection of a PopTech or TED. I’ll look forward to tracking other conferences this group does.