Corporate Branding Digest, Dec. 3, 2014


Can Better Workplace Leadership Solve America’s Healthcare Problem?
(Fast Company, 02.12.14)

The U.S. spends more on health care than any other country, yet we lag behind our peers. Could the answer to our health problems be at work?


JFK’s On-the-Brink Leadership Lessons
(Forbes, 29.10.14)

Fifty-two years ago, the Cuban Missile Crisis ended. For the preceding thirteen days, the world had teetered on the brink of the ultimate horror: nuclear war. How did things get to such a pass? The simple answer: a failure of leadership.


You Need a Community, Not a Network
(Harvard Business Review, 15.09.14)

The internet is great for spreading information and rallying crowds, but you can’t mobilize people to collaborate and create something of lasting value simply by connecting them via the web. To get serious results from a network, you need commitment and a continuity of relationships among the participants.


How Leaders Can Cut the BS at Work and Address Real Issues
(Entrepreneur, 05.08.14)

You talk about challenges and issues until you are blue in the face, but you still don’t get results. People promise they will do this or that, but they don’t. So you have a decision to make: “Do I bring up the tough issue, their lack of commitment, their poor performance—or not?”


“You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” —Steve Jobs


Holistic Havas

If our agency was a MindBodyGreen headline, we’d be “How Your Client Choices Reflect Who You Are.” Health and wellness has always been an area where Havas PR excels—and now we’ve just added this fast-growing online community of mindful millennials to our client list, which includes the Bob Woodruff Foundation, Epic Hearing Healthcare, Malecare, the National Brain Tumor Society, the National Lipid Association and many other organizations focused on helping people achieve a state of wellness. MindBodyGreen is among a handful of wellness brands that have survived and prospered in the once-crowded field of online wellness publications, and we’re happy to be traveling with it and its highly engaged community on the next leg of its journey as the arbiter of holistic health.

Did Obama or Your Boss Overstay Summer Vacation?

[Originally posted on Forbes.com.]

Every August, millions of Americans take vacations. And every year, the most powerful of them, their president, takes a lot of heat just for taking his—and also for where he goes. Powerful business executives, too, take hits for their choice and length of retreat.
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Our Multi Multicultural Awards

The Pittsburgh office of @havaspr has won its 18th award over the past four years for work on Transitions Optical’s multicultural program. The latest is a Golden World from the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) for community relations, in the agency category. (All four entries we submitted were named finalists.) When research our agency initiated showed that African Americans are at greater risk for eye damage linked to UV exposure, we recommended a partnership with the National Council of Negro Women to help educate the community about their risks. Among other successes, our 2013 research showed a 29 percent increase over our 2011 study in the number of African Americans who understood that their ethnicity could put them at higher risk for eye health issues. More than 300 Golden World entries meant that the contest, according to IPRA’s president, was “particularly tough this year.”

How Using My Brain Has Helped It Heal

[Originally posted on the Huffington Post.]

As we approached Brain Tumor Awareness Month (it’s every May), I had coincidentally been posting about my own repeated misadventures in and recent return visit to brain tumor land. Some of what I wrote or tweeted about might have sounded a bit crotchety (the stress of having to negotiate with insurance companies and my confusion about mankind in general, for instance) or odd (admitting that I was coping with stress and lack of control by watching videos of brain surgeries on a questionable Indian hospital website), but it could have been worse.

Just as I found out, strangely, that dealing with surgery to remove a meningioma and the subsequent recovery is harder for me with a family than when I was on my own, I’ve also become grateful that I can use my brain during this period instead of simply resting. The National Brain Tumor Society notes that for people who do choose to return to work, “the challenges … can help you move ahead on the road to recovery.”

Work gives me a focus, a framework, a welcome distraction—especially the work that feels good. One of the main projects helping me heal after my second craniotomy (the first was nearly six years ago) is to bring some healing to the families of the Sandy Hook tragedy. More than that: I credit this work with inspiring my recovery.

My agency, Havas PR North America, has gotten involved with the Emilie Parker Art Connection, founded by the family of one of the young victims. Newtown struck close to home—my partner, Jim, and I also live in a supposedly safe Connecticut community—and it’s a cause I would have been glad to wholeheartedly support under any circumstances. But with everything going on in my head this winter and spring, I threw myself into it as deeply as possible.

The Parker family and others needed my skill set and connections to the media, and I needed them: The still-active aftermath of Sandy Hook galvanized me to push myself to recover faster to help them, and I gave them the redoubled efforts of a PR pro who was extra determined not to let a personal setback stand in her way. I even persuaded Jim to stop at Havas’s Wilton, Conn., office on the way home from Massachusetts General Hospital two days after surgery so that I could see the team building the new Emilie Parker Art Connection website.

To be sure, I could have thrown myself into any number of projects at work or at home: I’ve always been an overachiever—a type A-plus (and as Jim will attest, I am understating my intensity)—and have always had trouble sitting still. I don’t know what to do with a hammock. More likely, show me a hammock on a Thursday and by Tuesday I’ll be importing hammocks and selling them to raise money for a Latin American village.

So taking a break from work just didn’t make sense. What would I do? Who would I be if I did nothing, even for a day? For me, clock watching isn’t being. I had done that for 19 hours in the ICU, and even there I monitored my BlackBerrys (yes, plural) relentlessly, provided unsolicited commentary to the Roman Catholic Church on its choice of a new leader and obsessed on the state of news coverage. Staying home and resting would have meant, well, just more time to watch those gruesome Indian videos.

Even though my surgery was a little over two months ago and I’m still technically on medical leave (I’m feeling much better, but the headaches can be paralyzing), I’m working as hard as ever. And thank heavens for that. Although the tumor has zapped my organizational skills, like the last time my entrepreneurial skills today (in addition to my hair) are intact and my media relations and negotiating skills are superlative.

A lifelong catnapper increasingly afflicted with insomnia, I pass the early morning hours thinking about new-business proposals, which relaxes me. When it was time to get the 50 sutures removed from my scalp, a procedure that could have been uncomfortable (to use one of the medical profession’s favorite euphemisms), I was so distracted by client emails and budget proposals that I didn’t even realize when the doctor was done.

About a week after surgery, in a moment of subtle levity (and clarity), I told Jim, who had by then returned to his classroom obligations at the University of Arizona, about an excursion I was making. I might have let him hear “CVS” instead of “CBS.” So while he thought I was headed to the drugstore, I was instead at an inspiring CBS shoot with the amazing Parker family in Newtown as they told the story of their 100-day journey since the tragedy. (I bribed Jim’s son to chauffeur me.)

And as with the Parkers and their eye on the future—on creating a legacy for Emilie and working toward a goal of stopping more senseless tragedies—my post-surgery clarity has led me to want to advocate for a better story for others. I was vigilant about getting regular scans after my first meningioma was successfully removed, so when my symptoms returned and then worsened, I dismissed them because my radiologists had given me the all clear. Three times. But they were obviously wrong. So I am here to passionately encourage listening to what your brain is saying and feeling, and to get a second opinion if you want to be sure.

No matter the trauma you face—and we all will, because life is never trauma-free—never underestimate the power of hard work, or working hard at your passion, to heal.

[photo: creativecommons.org/Ars Electronica]

Music to Our Ears

One way we’re remembering wounded warriors this Memorial Day is through celebrating their victories since they’ve returned home. We pitched a story that appeared yesterday in The Washington Times about Musicorps, one of the many organizations funded by grants from our longtime pro bono client the Bob Woodruff Foundation. Tim Devaney’s story in The Times tells about some veterans whose rehabilitation includes Musicorps’ musical training, including Marine Cpl. Todd Love, who lost his left arm and both legs in Afghanistan. With the help of Musicorps, says the article, Love, who first played as a kid, can now play piano better one-handed than many amateur musicians can play with two. And if you missed it in November, check out some of Musicorps’s members playing with Roger Waters at the Bob Woodruff Foundation’s Stand Up for Heroes event.

We’re Breathing Change

New business is what makes us very happy, because it is brainfood for the mind and soul. So we’ve been pigging out in February, a month of intensive learning, with topics ranging from music to advocacy, NGOs to personal care (all our new wins are confidential, but think pharma and cause). If you don’t love change, this isn’t the business for you. Our global leadership meeting a couple of weeks ago even gave us a rallying cry: “Change faster.” Buckle your seat belts.