Firm Voice: Global Perspectives Help Shape Industry’s Future

From Firm Voice, a Blog from the Council of Public Relations Firms

Is your firm thinking of going global? Is it already there? More and more US firms are opening up offices around the world, and the trend should only intensify next year. Nearly a quarter of Council members have offices overseas, while several others belong to international networks that provide clients with global reach and local expertise.

To round out 2010, we spent some time reflecting on what it takes these days to succeed in global markets. Three chief executives and leaders in our industry, Burson-Marsteller’s Mark Penn, Hill & Knowlton’s Paul Taaffe, and Waggener Edstrom Worldwide’s Melissa Waggener Zorkin, sat down with us to discuss what has worked for their firms in developing markets across the world, what the big challenges are, and what firms should do going forward as they expand into developing countries.

When asked about local differences in public relations practice, our CEOs related that US firms tended to help clients in emerging markets enter Western markets and develop more strategic communications. As Taaffe remarked, “We’re partially in the position of educators. Many local clients don’t understand the different kinds of PR specialties. To their great credit, they’re trying to learn, and they’re trying to figure out what it takes to tap developed markets.” Penn agreed, noting that like many US or European companies early in their histories, firms in developing countries are expanding first, and only putting in a communications infrastructure along the way. “In many countries, there’s a tradition of not talking to the public or to media, and so their notion of what PR is becomes pretty slim. We need to help them understand that public relations isn’t about just media communications, but about a broader strategy.”

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Politico: Poll: D.C. elites down on Sarah Palin

She told you so.

Washington elites, it turns out, do look down their noses at Sarah Palin.

The former Alaska GOP governor has been saying it for more than two years now, and a new POLITICO poll released Wednesday suggests she’s right.

Just 11 percent of the D.C. elites surveyed said they believe Palin is qualified to be president, less than half of the general public — 23 percent — who believe the same. Eighty-six percent of Washington elites — roughly 9 out of 10 — think Palin is not qualified, compared with 64 percent of the general public.

In addition, 79 percent of Washington elites believe Palin is a “negative influence in national politics” while just 15 percent find her to be “a breath of fresh air.” Outside the nation’s capital, however, more than twice as many believe she has had a positive impact on politics, while 50 percent see her as a negative influence.

“Palin is a populist-oriented phenomenon drawn heavily from lower middle-class voters, but she also deliberately comes off as anti-intellectual and anti-Washington, so it is no surprise she does not play in the Beltway,” said Mark Penn, CEO of the polling firm Penn Schoen Berland, which conducted the survey for POLITICO. “Elites almost everywhere are turned off by her and some of the very things she does that attracts her core support.”

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Politico: Poll analysis: Public and D.C. elites agree: Prosecute Assange

By MARK PENN
December 15, 2010

One thing that’s emerged from these six months of polling is just how far removed our nation’s capital typically is from the rest of the country. This month alone, POLITICO’s “Power and the People” poll shows D.C. is divided from the rest of the country on issues of the economy (38 percent of D.C. elites think it’s on the right track, while only 26 percent of the general population agrees), congressional agenda (half of D.C. elites think deficit reduction should be top priority, but just 35% of adults say the same), and our president (57 percent of Beltway insiders plan to vote for him in 2012 versus only 37 percent of the rest of us.) It’s notable then that there’s one topic in which they’re distinctly in sync: Julian Assange and whether to go after him.

When asked if the founder of WikiLeaks should be prosecuted as a terrorist for publishing over 250,000 diplomatic cables, by 48 percent to 22 percent the sample of all Americans said yes compared to 49 percent of D.C. elites who agreed and 36 percent who disagreed. In other words, roughly the same percentages of both said Assange should face prosecution, though 30 percent of the general population remains undecided.

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The Huffington Post: Democrats Need to Back Obama, writes Mark Penn

By MARK PENN
Published December 10, 2010

Democrats should move quickly to back the president on the tax bill or risk turning themselves into a minority party in Congress for a long time to come. By becoming reverse tax protesters (chanting “raise taxes”), the liberals are sending out all the wrong messages to a country that overwhelmingly backs the key elements of the bipartisan deal the president struck.

Obama took the first step this week in seeking to save his floundering presidency by moving to the center. His execution was far from perfect but his actions were sound.

First, when it’s done, the president will sign major legislation unequivocally backed by super-majorities of the American public. Yesterday’s Gallup poll shows that 66 percent support both extending the tax cuts and extending unemployment benefits for the next two years — the two key components of the package. While the far-right squabbles over the unemployment extension, and Obama’s liberal base is unhappy with the tax cuts, most of America — and the moderate wings of both parties — support the extension of both. Gallup found that 78 percent of moderate Republicans support the tax cuts, and 62 percent feel the same about unemployment extension; 85 percent of moderate Democrats are in favor of the extension of benefits, and 64% approve of the tax cuts for all. This deal attracts exactly the moderate and swing voters Obama needs to attract if he wants a shot at a second term.

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