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Managing Professional Services Communications: Reputation, Brand and Leadership. December 6, 2007 AMCF Global Consulting Leaders Symposium Peter Verrengia, President and Senior Partner Communications Consulting Worldwide. Challenge: Grow Value Everywhere . . .

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Managing Professional Services Communications:Reputation, Brand and Leadership

December 6, 2007

AMCF Global Consulting Leaders Symposium

Peter Verrengia, President and Senior Partner

Communications Consulting Worldwide


Challenge: Grow Value Everywhere . . .


Against a background of global complexity. . .


Priorities?

  • Visibility for the firm

    • Global

    • National

    • Regional

    • Local

  • Credibility for the practices and partners

  • Lead generation

  • Recruitment and retention

    • Lateral, direct entry

    • Summer associates, associates


Questions and Complexity

  • How should we be known, what should we say?

  • Why do our competitors get more attention—does it matter?

  • Should we focus on practices, geographies or at the firm level?

  • How do we convert our experience into demand?

  • Does criticism or a link to negative issues hurt our revenue now? Will it hurt in the future?


More questions…

  • Can we increase productivity and quality if employees understand our strategy better?

  • Are we trusted, seen as innovative, expected to succeed? Is that view the same in every country and every service segment.

  • Should our leaders be visible, should they be thought leaders? Is the time and personal exposure worthwhile?

  • Shouldn’t our results speak for themselves?


Challenges of Business Development Communications in Professional Services Firms

  • Shared

    • Disintermediation of editorial function, decline of endorsed expertise

    • Speed, fragmentation of information sources—shift away from control

    • Desire for linearity in a non-linear decision-making environment

    • Scope and scale of global business

    • Lack of confidence in large organizations, personal credibility as a substitute


Challenges of Business Development Communications in Professional Services Firms

  • Unique

    • Partner time

    • Partner expectations

      • (Unlike clients, partners are never wrong)

    • Can’t easily use clients as examples in public communications

    • Expertise versus personalities

    • Lead generation in a relationship context

    • Business strategy vs. marketing strategy vs. partner priorities, reactions


Variety Of Effective Tools

  • Most programs involve the same tactics

  • Segmentation by practice, vertical industry, and geography

Integrated Communications Program

Controlled

Uncontrolled

Custom Publishing

Speeches,

events,

seminars

Advertising

Interactive engagement

Direct

Media relations

Books, by-lined Articles

VISIBILITY

CREDIBILITY

Content Dependent


Objective? Conflict?

Personality dependent

Super

Fully

Integrated

Strategic

Communications

If I could just get into the room…

Super

Tactical, High

Volume

Splashy Buzz

Communications

Chaos?


Organizations Must Tackle Communications Alignment and Integration Issues

  • Organization: How does it connect inside?

  • Effectiveness, Efficiency: How well are reputation and brand projected and protected?

  • Alignment: How well does the organization support its own professionals and their objectives?

  • Benchmarks: Scope and spending on communications activities and how does this compare to best in class?

Integration

New, Innovative, Strategic

3

Long-Term Opportunity

Collaboration

Together, Better, Faster

2

Near-Term Initiative

Coordination

Functional, Independent, Parallel

1


Reputation and brand

  • Brand: what we say about ourselves or our products

    • in the context of a buyer/seller relationship

    • Most often through controlled communications

  • Reputation: What others say about the company

    • In the context of its own actions and statements

    • Statements of competitors, and the issues and concerns that create the economic, public policy, and social trends environment

    • Wherever the company operates or plans to operate in the future.

    • Most often through uncontrolled communications

      Brand Visibility Reputation Credibility

      Credibility = Experience + Expectation

In professional services, brand and reputation are

very closely aligned


Managing Reputation & Brand Value

Uncontrolled

Communications

Opportunity

Platform

Partners

Reputation

and

Brand

Value

Performance

Firm

Safety

Net

Controlled

Communications


Brand, Reputation and Thought Leadership

  • The firm’s reputation is a composite and reflection of its partners’ reputations—and potentially more

    • Institutional qualities, attributes

  • Communications from the firm requires the personal participation of the partners

    • Especially at the level of thought leadership

    • “Live the brand”???

same at any scale:

partner, practice geography, or firm


Reputation and Branding Priorities

For the Partner

For the Firm

PERSONAL CREDIBILITY

TIME FOR VISIBILITY

TIME FOR

THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

High Effort, High return


Two rules

  • Thought Leadership:

    • Need a thought

    • Need to lead


Essential Ingredients

THOUGHT

LEADERSHIP

NEWS

EXPERTISE

Content is king in professional services communications


How do we know what matters?

  • In an increasingly complex world, attributes of our reputation, and what issues, are important?

  • Do we have, in our reputation, a sustainable competitive advantage?

    • What attributes to emphasize?

    • What attributes to protect?

  • How do we create and maintain visibility and credibility

    • Program messages, tactics, duration

    • Spending levels

  • What are the metrics we should use?


Practical Considerations

  • Motivate partner participation

  • Respond to partner priorities and desires (demands?)

  • Justify budgets


Practical Considerations

  • Motivate partner participation

  • Respond to partner priorities and desires (demands?)

  • Justify budgets


REPUTATION VALUE

MEASUREMENT

ORGANIZATIONAL DESIGN & PERFORMANCE

BD Comms.

Management

LEADERSHIP REPUTATION GROWTH AND DEFENSE

MESSAGE & POSITIONING DEVELOPMENT

Program strategy & tactics

This is the easy part


Create Reputation Value Model

  • What outcomes matter most to you as a business?

  • What is the value of reputation overall? What metric should be used over time to measure progress or threats?

  • Which reputation attributes or messages contribute most to your reputation, sales volume, other outcomes?

  • Which should be emphasized more?

  • Which reputation attributes or messages about the company should your protect?


Reputation

Index –Communications, Brand, Image,

Other

CCW’s Approach to Measurement

  • An approach using multivariate statistics and econometric modeling

  • A model using causal equations to link intangible driversto an overall score that links to corporate performance

Intermediaries

Outputs

Inputs

Components

Possible Data Points:

Possible Message Themes:

Possible Elements:

Potential Business Outcomes:

Publicly Available Financial Data

Strategy Execution

Media Relations Data

Revenue

Corp. Culture and CEO Messaging

Brand Data

Management Strength

Sales Volume/ Growth

Stakeholder Survey Inputs (Customer, Employee, Other)

Reputation

Customer Retention

Employee Relations

CSR Data

Financial Position

Awards, Patents, Ratings

Innovation

Market Share

Product/Service Quality

Marketing Data


Leadership Defense

  • Understand the environment and risks

    • Cross-border political and economic issues

    • Relevance

    • Competitor initiatives

    • Timing—24 hours a day

    • Appropriate response

      • Sometimes no response is correct

  • Create just enough leeway for initiative

  • Focus and repeat (consultants get bored easily)

  • Measure

  • Involve knowledge owners

  • Always seek communications annuity programs and develop franchises


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