Arthur W. Page Society: Advising the CEO and The King’s Speech

Published April 19, 2011

While The King’s Speech was a great movie, it was also a great example of how to advise a CEO or other important leader. As the story unfolds, Lionel Logue, the King’s speech therapist, goes from the unwanted outsider to the trusted adviser through a process that dates back to Joseph and the Pharaoh. The relationship is based on trust, respect, a proven process, evidence-based advice and confidence. These are the same essential elements of advising a CEO, and all of them are illustrated as the movie unfolds.

Lionel teaches the King a few lessons in humility and self-respect. However, he also teaches all of us who get a chance to advise influential people just how to form that special relationship. The movie also underscores that just as important as having good advice is being able to deliver it in way that those you advise can hear it and use it.

Tony Blair said to me one day when planning out his third re-election campaign – “I feel like I am standing in front of a locked door without a key.” The point of that process was to help him find the key to his most difficult problem. And that is what Lionel did – he did not solve the King’s problem; rather, he helped the King find the fortitude within himself to overcome the obstacles standing in his way.

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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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Mark Penn and Karen Hughes discuss the state of digital communications in politics at the 2010 BlogWorld & New Media Expo [VIDEO]

Highlight from the 2010 BlogWorld & New Media Expo keynote speech with Mark Penn and Karen Hughes discussing the state of digital communications and social media in politics.

Watch the video on the BlogWorld & New Media Expo 2010 YouTube channel

Mark Penn’s Microtrends wins WPP Atticus Award

Penn Schoen Berland and Burson-Marsteller CEO Mark Penn has been named the winner of the Consumer Insights category in the 2010 Atticus Awards for his book Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes, PSB announced today.

Open exclusively to professionals working in WPP companies, the annual Atticus Awards honor original published thinking in communications services. Winners receive a cash prize, and many recognized publications are reprinted or excerpted in WPP’s annual Atticus Journal, which will be released in November 2010.

The Awards were judged by Simon Clift, consultant and former chief marketing officer at Unilever; Rik Kirkland, principal and director at McKinsey & Company, and Judie Lannon, editor of Market Leader. Other entrants in this year’s Consumer Insights category included publications from WPP agencies Millward Brown, MVI, and Mindshare.

“I’m deeply honored that Microtrends has been recognized as one of the outstanding examples of WPP’s thought leadership from the last year,’ said Penn. “At Penn Schoen Berland and Burson-Marsteller, much of our work is predicated on the belief that companies must understand and respond appropriately to small shifts in behavior – as harbingers of tomorrow’s big shifts. We are gratified that WPP and the judges of the Atticus Awards have endorsed that perspective.”

The Atticus Awards specifically recognized the paperback edition of Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes, by Mark Penn with E. Kinney Zalesne, published in June 2009 by Twelve.

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PRWeek: Mark Penn on PRWeek’s 2010 Power List 25

Mark Penn ranks #13 on PRWeek’s PR Power List of the 25 most powerful leaders in the communications industry in 2010.

Mark Penn
Worldwide president and CEO, Burson-Marsteller

Love him or hate him, public affairs guru Mark Penn has the ear of some of the most powerful people in the world, having worked with luminaries such as Bill Clinton, his wife Hillary, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

In terms of Washington power brokers, Burson-Marsteller’s Penn stands right at the top of the food chain. His challenge is to remain relevant and influential in a rapidly changing global political climate, and to lead his Burson- Marsteller empire from the front and ensure key staff members come along for the ride.

Download the PR Power List 2009 (pdf format)

Mark Penn interviewed at Burson-Marsteller EMEA Leadership Conference

Mark Penn interviewed in April 2010 in Madrid, Spain at the Burson-Marsteller EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) Leadership Conference. The CEO discusses Burson-Marsteller’s Evidence-Based Communications Philosophy, PR after the recession and Social Media.

92Y Tribeca: Mark Penn participates in a panel of industry leaders discussing “The Business of PR”

Mark Penn participated in a panel on “The Business of PR” at the 92Y Tribeca in New York with Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO, Ruder Finn and Steven Rubenstein, President, Rubenstein Communications.

In the highlight video, Mark mentions that despite the shrinking demand for newspapers, the demand for news and information in general is skyrocketing, and will continue to rise with the growth of the middle class. Watch the video at 92Y online.

PRWeek: Mark Penn on PRWeek Power 25

Mark Penn ranks #10 on PRWeek’s PR Power List of the 25 most powerful leaders in the industry in 2009.

Mark Penn [’08 rank - #10]
CEO, Burson-Marsteller

Last year wasn’t easy for Mark Penn. His candidate lost the presidential primary, and his actions were publicly cited for the loss of his firm’s client, Colombia. Yet Penn remains resilient. He is active on client work, including pitching key accounts, and he doesn’t shy away from defending the industry. When MSNBC personality Rachel Maddow took Penn and his firm to task for its client roster, including AIG, Penn defended the importance of its services, even to embattled companies, in an internal memo. And despite Hillary Clinton’s defeat, there’s no doubt that Penn will remain politically influential in the future.

Download the PR Power List 2009 (pdf format)

The Firm Voice: Post-Inaugural PR: What to Expect in Politics and the PR Agency Business in 2009

The Firm Voice: Post-Inaugural PR: What to Expect in Politics and the PR Agency Business in 2009

Many assumed a “wait and see” stance these past few weeks as uncertainty continued to drive the markets and outlook for the PR firm business and beyond. Yet that holding pattern may shake out as businesses get a clearer bead on the future, precipitated in part by yesterday’s inauguration finally signaling a shift from promising to practicing change.

So what exactly does the future hold for the agency business under an Obama administration? What lessons can we—as a profession and as individual practitioners—learn from President Obama’s communications strategies, techniques and tactics? Where will policy and PR intersect in the year ahead—and what does it all mean to you and your day-to-day work?

For the answers, we checked with Mark Penn, whose domain is the nexus between PR and politics. Worldwide CEO of Burson-Marsteller and president of market research, polling and consulting firm Penn, Schoen and Berland, he has advised both Clintons, Tony Blair and Bill Gates. In 2007, he authored “Microtrends: The Small Forces behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes,” the paperback edition of which will be published in spring. Precipitating its release is Penn’s new “Microtrends” column, which runs regularly in the “Media and Marketing” section of and focuses on demographic trends in society, business and politics.

Here, Penn—who has been called the “Master of the Message” by Time magazine and the “Guru of Small Things” by The New York Times—gives us a sneak peak of his trend-spotting talents to help you navigate the months ahead, and shares his post-inaugural analysis of the new administration, its key communications challenges, and the year ahead for Corporate America and its agency partners.

Mark Penn Participates in Time Warner’s Politics 2008 Summit

Mark Penn Participates in Time Warner's Politics Summit 2008

Mark Penn participates in panel entitled “Media Power Vs. Political Power: The 2008 Election Re-defining the Relationship” alongside senior correspondents from the major news outlets, as part of Time Warner’s Politics 2008 Summit: The Media Conference for the Election of the President. To view the video, please visit the Digital Hollywood Time Warner Summit Conference page.