Category: CEO

June 3, 2019

The ideal of an “authentic” organisation persists because audiences respond best to expression and actions that lack artifice (that is, that appear to occur naturally, innately). But most organisations, and the professionals running them, are chronically incapable of acting in a manner that a typical person would regard as authentic. Consider, as a baseline for…

June 11, 2018

The controversy over origin of World’s fashion wear shows us the two major factors necessary for a controversy make the leap into public consciousness.   A Spin Off story revealed that although World’s clothes may be assembled in NZ, materials were made in Bangladesh and China. Most New Zealanders can hardly be troubled by this…

July 23, 2017

New research reveals that New Zealand institutions are failing to deliver effective public communication about imminent natural hazards.   Most of us know the story of the boy who cried wolf. In the versions popularized in the 1500s, the tale-telling boy is not believed when a wolf does appear. In some versions of the story…

July 13, 2017

For a career that has become a profession, the political class perform surprisingly badly at the job. Here’s two lessons you can learn from their mistakes last month.   1) Tell your story, then stop. Journalists are very good at spotting weaknesses in stories.  Bill English kept telling them his story about Todd Barclay each…

April 23, 2017

Some days, especially on LinkedIn, the sheer weight of corporate marketing about “doing good” is depressing.   Heart-sleeves point-scoring is made worse for knowing it has zero impact on sales.   This was demonstrated in a series of revealing studies outlined in The Myth of the Ethical Consumer. They revealed that while consumers profess social…

November 15, 2016

Donald Trump has been elected US President despite months of intense, high-profile condemnation from the political and media establishment, and social media shouters.   No previous candidate in living memory, not even Ronald Reagan, has been so vilified. Critics even questioned his right to stand as a candidate – his right to a place in…

November 2, 2016

A common factor in the unfolding public relations misfire of Ardent Leisure, owner of Dreamworld, is misjudged actions.   Ardent executives falsely believed that the issue was all about them, and that they needed to be seen to take action.   Organised action is an artificial construct. We mistrust artifice because it requires conscious planning….

October 17, 2016

The New Zealand Rugby Union did not need to enter the issue of a Wellington rugby player escaping conviction for street violence.   The appearance of CEO Steve Tew in interviews painted a target on the NZRU, inviting the professionally outraged to demand apologies for a “violent and sexist” rugby culture. Tew was bullied into…

October 16, 2016

24 hours after being vilified for firing a disabled worker who stole a colleague’s drink bottle, the chief executive of Bunnings went on Newstalk ZB to explain the sacking. The explanation gave enough hints to suggest that there was more than one side to the story.   “These decisions aren’t taken lightly… it’s just not…

October 4, 2016

A survey by UK-based PR week found journalists think half the PR people they deal with are not good at their jobs.   The main complaint of journalists was that PR people don’t spend enough time looking at the output of the media they pitch to, making the stories of their clients irrelevant.   We…

October 3, 2016

The Wellington Rugby Union hit trouble over its response to player Losi Filipo escaping conviction for a vicious fight in Courtenay Place.   The WRFU initially decided to support Filipo’s court case, and stand with him under public scrutiny. But after 24 hours of pressure, the WRFU ‘mutually’ agreed to end Filipo’s contract.   Many…

September 14, 2016

It has been fascinating to study performance of the “transparent” approach to communication adopted by councils over contamination of the Havelock North water supply.   We’ll put aside the initial slow response to connect the dots, as that’s disappointingly normal for all of us facing the uncertainty of contamination.   Once the water supply was…

September 4, 2016

We live in in a topsy-turvy, hyper-sensitive era, where photos of staff playing the fool get a public treatment worse than dangerous malfunctions that risk lives.   AirNZ declared itself “appalled” at photos on social media of a pilot kissing a blow-up doll and video of a flight attendant spitting water, and taking the issue…

August 4, 2016

Beware of people claiming customers respond well to companies that take stances on social issues. There’s a US study by Weber Shandwick doing the rounds.   A quick look at the numbers doesn’t back up the claim that we’re witnessing the “dawn of the activist CEO”.   Here it is in a nutshell: More than…

August 1, 2016

According to research by the Economist Intelligence Unit, CEOs say reputation is their organisation’s most prized asset. But they also say it is the most vulnerable and hardest to get right.   It is the capriciousness of reputation that makes CEOs wary of engaging when their organisation is criticised in public. When you’re not certain…