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February 11, 2015 | cwinters | Tagged , , ,

Is It Time to Stop Talking About Millennials in the Workplace?

Every day, we are inundated with news articles, infographics and studies about Millennials in the workplace, and the challenges of managing them.  Millennials are lazy, entitled, disloyal…or a contrarian view that Millennials are more career-driven, more qualified and in some way better than any generation entering the workforce. Funny, I’ve heard that narrative about the disenfranchised, difficult and lazy generation once before – it was about Generation X – for whom Wynona Ryder in Reality Bites served as the poster child.  I know because I am (technically) a member of Generation X.  But none of those labels applied to me, or anyone I knew or worked with.  We were all working late every night, for low pay; frustrated that our bosses didn’t understand us; interested in being mentored, and in building careers. It was hard to find a job, we were discouraged that we had expensive educations and couldn’t find a job.   Sound familiar? As careers are stretching longer, the reality is that the multigenerational workforce is here to stay.  Each generation that enters the workforce brings their own life experiences and expectations to the table.  Being an effective multigenerational leader is one of the greatest challenges in business today….

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February 10, 2015 | cwinters | Tagged , , ,

The 5 Things We Can All Learn From a CEO’s First 100 Days

One of the things I enjoy the most about my job is working with CEOs as they embark on a new leadership journey.  A new CEO gets a blank page, a fresh start – and the opportunity to decide what he or she wants to stand for as a leader, and to impact an entire organization, and sometimes an entire industry.  This is a business situation where the power of communications is clear – to define goals, to build consensus, to bring a little bit of inspiration to the world. Much is written about a CEO’s first 100 days, and MWW has its own 100 day protocol for embarking on this journey, and creating the leadership trajectory for the executive and the Company.  But what does a CEO’s approach to the first 100 days teach us about individuals and their careers?  What should everyone do on the first day of a new job?  I was intrigued about advice on this topic coming from Mary Barra, who has spent her entire career at GM, and who reminded me (an MWW lifer) that a new job isn’t just starting at a new company – it is starting a new role or even…

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February 9, 2015 | cwinters | Tagged , , ,

The Connection Between Happiness and Success

MWW recently held an annual leadership retreat – where we came together for two days to collaborate on priorities, define (and re-define) goals for our company and refresh relationships as a team.  We were fortunate to have support from some experts and facilitators who began with a very simple, but bold statement.  Happy people = happy outcomes/results. Perhaps it is the power of suggestion, I’ve started to see this premise popping up everywhere since that day, and it seems to be a dominant theme coming from successful female leaders.  Like Ivanka Trump, who says that having a happy family life is the key to her business success, or Palo Alto Software’s CEO who argues that leaning in isn’t the key to success, happiness is.  The economics of happiness, which first caught my eye a few years ago at Davos, has become a “thing” attracting attention from esteemed organizations like the Brookings Institute, TED and HBR.  Cultivation of happiness as a leadership strategy has fawned books and white papers.  But is it a “girl thing”? Do female leaders have the market cornered on the power of happiness over personal success, and an organization?  Or is it simply more acceptable for a…

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February 6, 2015 | cwinters | Tagged , ,

Has Brian Williams Put the Reputation of News At Risk?

Last night at dinner with some colleagues, the topic of Brian Williams and his Paul Bunyan tale of being shot down in the Iraqi desert came up.  Is he a liar?  An embellisher? Or a victim of some sort of false memory syndrome? No doubt, experts more qualified than me will be filling the airwaves talking about false memory retrieval.  Heck, if you watched any kind of crime drama, you know that humans don’t always recall things in the way that they actually happened, and that memory can be suggestively shaped over time. For me, the bigger issue is the line between news and entertainment.  We’ve seen politicians exaggerate the level of danger they were in when visiting war zones before, but we expect our news anchors to be truthful purveyors of the facts. Was it not dramatic enough to be on the front lines in a combat zone?  Was there encouragement (overt or covert) to make the headline sexier?  In an era where it isn’t enough to just report on a story, and talent is encouraged to become part of the story how can we preserve the integrity of news reporting?  No one would have asked Walter Cronkite to…

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February 4, 2015 | cwinters | Tagged ,

Banned in Boston: Anti-Olympic Talk

I remember early in my career a client told me they were working on a commercial that would get banned in Boston.  He said it gleefully, and I didn’t get it.  And because I was a starry-eyed young pro dazzled by early exposure to a CEO, I simply asked him to explain why he wanted to be banned in Boston.  You see, this company was operating under Chapter 11, cash strapped, and in an era before the Internet, looking for a low cost way to get people excited about their brand.  They didn’t actually have the money for a national TV buy, so they were making a racy ad (which today would not seem racy), attempting to place it in Boston and getting the media to write about the ad. An early lesson in building buzz, when any attention was good attention. Unfortunately, the same may not be true for the latest ban in Boston – the ban on city employees speaking negatively about an Olympic bid.  It’s likely that there is a law firm already blogging about the legal implications of such a broad restriction, but from a communications perspective, banning discussion and debate seems like a questionable move….

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February 3, 2015 | cwinters | Tagged , , ,

Super Bowl Reveals the NFL’s Broader Issue

It was hard to watch the Super Bowl without thinking that the NFL has had a rough year. And while the pre-Super Bowl scandal of  #DeflateGate is certainly not in the realm of serious issues such as domestic violence and child abuse, it is representative of a pervasive problem in the leagues culture—a lack of character. Pre-game pundits wondered if the aura of cheating would haunt the Patriots even if they won.  Would the crowd, commentators or even the officials, have a decidedly pro-Seattle slant in an effort to put that scandal to bed? While we can’t say for certain whether or not the Patriots did cheat, we know that they have been accused of it in the past, and that this football culture where the “rules don’t apply to me” is certainly not unique to New England or the NFL. We see the issues with this culture at every level of the sport. It is instilled at a young age, especially in universities and high schools across the country where teachers boost the grades of a star quarterback, where campus scandals like the University of North Carolina’s “sham classes” that get brushed under the rug. When they get to…

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January 30, 2015 | cwinters | Tagged , , ,

Something Positive for the NFL

If you are a crisis communications enthusiast, the NFL has been a gift that keeps on giving in the past year, with a steady drumbeat of scandals providing ample fodder for commentary.  2014 was not a kind year for the NFL…or should I say, the NFL did its best to skewer itself in 2014? From incidents involving former fan favorites Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson to Commissioner Goodell’s mishandling of each situation, the hits just kept on coming for the league.   In some cases, the bad behavior turned fans off, others like #deflategate became a rallying cry and unifier about the team you love to hate. With each new headline, you could practically hear loyal fans groaning and public opinion plummeting. As we get ready for the Big Game, and the plethora of marketing stunts that accompany it (Puppy Bowl, anyone?), let’s take a break from the hate, and look at how NFL owners and players have been working to rebuild trust, one player at a time (with perhaps a twinge of hope that some of this would “go viral” – which has replaced “be on Oprah” as the single common wish of any client at any agency today). Exhibit…

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January 29, 2015 | cwinters | Tagged , ,

What A Headscarf Tells Us About the Power of Twitter

I had a colleague who used to challenge every reporter that he felt was off base with the question, “What is it, a slow news day?”  Back then, reporters would try to uncover stories by calling you on the phone, testing a theory, a rumor and sometimes just fishing for news.  It was pretty easy to identify the rumors about your company before they became pervasive.  And while we didn’t know it at the time, it was a lot easier to contain them. We’ve observed for years now that social media has fundamentally changed the news cycle.  This is particularly true in a crisis, where social commentary can take on a life of its own.  And while we may long for the days when a response within 60 minutes was considered the gold standard of crisis communications, in the current environment, it is more like 60 seconds. But the rise of social media and the plethora of easily accessible opinion makers have also fundamentally changed the news business.  Today, it’s better to be first than to be right.  And often, no one will ever know if you are right because the race to join the conversation creates a lot of…

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January 28, 2015 | cwinters | Tagged , , , ,

The Anti-Vaccine Movement and the Power of a Narrative

Social media is exploding with infographics and articles about vacciners v. anti-vacciners, fueled by a measles outbreak traced to Disneyland.  And while the experts argue about herd immunity, and the fact that we’ve forgot, as a society, what it was like for most families to bury at least one child due to diseases like measles, mumps and rubella, PR people can take a lesson about the power of a narrative, and the power of third parties. Not too long ago, a narrative developed around the connection between vaccines and autism, based on fake science.  In short, mistrust of big pharmaceutical companies — who are vaccine advocates, presumably to sell more vaccines with no interest in saving lives (sarcasm intended) – and amnesia about childhood morbidity enables a shift in our society’s fear.  We began to fear autism more than we feared death of our children.  And as diagnoses of disorders on the spectrum increased exponentially, we needed someone to blame.  Throw in a couple of celebrities who adopted an anti-vaccine stance, and a few scientists who assured us that herd immunity would protect us, and voila, the anti-vaccine movement took hold. This Wag the Dog-like manipulation of the public psyche…

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November 14, 2014 | cwinters | Tagged , , ,

In Wake Of Blackfish Backlash, SeaWorld Takes A Plunge

  The verdict is out on the impact of “Blackfish,” the 2013 documentary that put SeaWorld’s treatment of orca whales in the line of fire: SeaWorld reported another disappointing quarter this week, with its profit falling 28 percent and its stock price down more than 50 percent from its 2013 April IPO following the news. We’ve been waiting to see how SeaWorld’s unconventional, public refutation would play out…and now we know. Customers and investors have spoken by closing their wallets. While SeaWorld attempted to counter the flood of harsh criticism from animal rights activists, lawmakers, celebrities, and media, its response was not well received. The amount of coverage about SeaWorld’s reputational and financial fails only increased, and the entire counter-campaign has become a spectacle and learning lesson for corporations and communications counselors. With a complaint to the Labor Department, an open letter to movie critics claiming that the film was misleading and false, and its “truth about Blackfish” website that frames the documentary as propaganda, SeaWorld has boldly played the defensive since the film’s debut at a time when companies would usually be holding their breaths. As I stated in another post, there’s a time to speak and there’s a…

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