Entertaining the “R” word. Will you embrace, spin or hide from that elephant in the room?

“Entertaining the ‘R’ word” is rather poetic, isn’t it? Would it surprise you to know that it was economist Derek Holt (assistant chief economist, RBC Economics Research) who came up with that phrase? Derek is providing the (opening keynote) Economic Update 2008 at my organization’s annual Controllers’ Congress, which begins on Thursday, February 21st. For a third year, we’re also offering the Economic Update as a free webcast to the general public. Derek and I chatted prior to my direct promotions to relevant media and groups, mainly because I wanted his input on how to impress on non-financial types—such as public relations practitioners—how a recession or economic downturn might impact their jobs. What I like about economists is that there is no dissembling…they tell it like it is, because their subject-expert reputation depends on the accuracy of their forecasts. Following our discussion, I also embarked on a cursory examination of the blogosphere, to see if many bloggers were initiating discussions (challenges and opportunities) on this topic.

Although conventional media is certainly analyzing and discussing the possibilities of a US-based recession in great detail, I didn’t actually find that much in those segments of the blogosphere related to public relations and (in particular) marketing.

One of the first excellent posts I found was the social media perspective, covered off by Josh Bernoff of Forrester’s Groundswell blog, Why Social Applications Will Thrive In A Recession.

Other relevant and interesting posts:

Potential Roles for PR in a Recession (PR for the People)
(In this post Tom Reidt references the Inside PR #96 podcast. The “recession” segment can be found at the 7:21 point.)

Recession Predictions: The Conversation Continues (Engage in PR)

How Will the Public Relations Industry Fare in a Recession? (Pierce Mattie Public Relations)

Using PR to Weather the Recession Storm (I just discovered this Musings from an Intermediary blog today. I was impressed that Jennifer Boyes in Auckland, New Zealand, understands that a US-based recession can still have an impact on her local industry.)

And the always thoughtful and interesting Read Write Web collaborative blog keeps offering up recession commentary and advice for Internet-based industries:

This Is Not Our Bubble (Bernard Lunn)
10 Reasons For a LinkedIn IPO (Bernard Lunn)
Google Is Not Recession-Proof (guest post by Llew Claasen)

(Please pass along suggestions for other relevant and good reads on the topic.)


Recession tip: client relations (The Whole Nine Yards)
Recession Blues? Use PR To Build Brand Success (Power PR Ideas)
Rumblings of a recession cause discomfort (RepChatter podcast, 14.57 minutes in length)
PR’s winning ways in recession (LeverWealth)
Recession Proof Your PR Agency with Social Media (Phenix Rising)
Time to Start Pitching a Recession? (POP! PR)
What a Recession Means to Public Relations (PRSA Blog)
Tips for staying employed in a recession (PR Tactics and The Strategist Online)
Omnicom: Recession? What Recession? (forbes.com)
Recession Proof Search Engine Optimization Tips (Online Marketing Blog)
Recession management: Personnel relations (Blog Business World)
Recession? What recession? (PR Divas)
Recession, IT, PR, Corey’s New Gig (Second Glance)
PR in a Recession – CEO Fantasies & Case Studies (SherpaBlog)
Recession-Proof Your Business (BusinessWeek)
Does an Economic Recession Spell Doom for PR? (UnSpun)
What to do if a recession hits (A view on PR from Silicon Valley)
Recession Marketing (Branding Strategy Insider)
Is Blogging Recession Proof? (Business Blog Consulting)
Marketing through a Recession (Fiducial website)
Online Social Media Cheap Alternative In Face Of Recession (Online Media Daily)
Recession lessons for PRs (Strive Notes)
How to recession proof your PR budget… (Measurement Matters)
Recession Fix (still-relevant 2003 article from WebProNews)
PR Players, Writers, Editors–Recession-proof Biz (Jane Genova)
Recession-proof your business through PR (PR Buzz)
PR Industry warned to cut costs (PRWeek UK)
PR self-help in a recession (Native Edge)
Recession ethics: CSR in a downturn – Recession-proof ethics can weather the storm (Ethical Corporation)
Proving the Value of PR to Management (Catching Flack)
Recession Proof your Marketing and PR Plan (Creative Concepts)
Let’s Make the Argument (Richard Edelman – 6 a.m.)

From the Daily ‘Dog, a.k.a. Bulldog Reporter (be warned, its URLs have a history of changing)
Timely PR Valentine: You Can Boom as Markets Fume with Recession-Proof PR
Recession in PR: Perception or Reality?
Is PR Recession–Proof? An Industry Vet’s Perspective on the “Good Old Days” Today
No More Fear Mongering: U.S. PR Agencies Weathering Current Economic Volatility

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If these posts and podcasts don’t convince you that it’s in your best interest to become informed about global and local economies (and forecasts) in the coming year–particularly in terms of how it might impact your job (budgets, challenges and opportunities)–I remind you of (strategic communication expert and counsel to several high-profile financial companies) Heather Conway’s words:

Conway indicated you need to do your homework. Always be there, always contribute. One interesting suggestion was to look to the finance function, as:

1. Many CFOs are poor communicators, yet have huge accountability and transparency challenges.
2. Many CFOs are “wannabe CEOs.” (And some do become the CEO eventually.)

She recommended we become a valued asset to the CFO, by showing appreciation for his or her challenges. Work to suggest tools and channels, help to build relationships with other departments and convince the CFO (or other dissenters) about the worthiness of an initiative.

All of the panelists indicated the need to empower and educate others on your senior management team, by showing them how effective communication works, and the tangible and intangible value of building good and strong relationship with a broad array of people. Conway indicated it could be as simple as providing good advice on how to communicate a systems crash. The key is to be helpful and supportive. An organization’s lawyers, for example, always proceed from a position of strength, with the mindset that they add value. They are trained to be aggressive and state their point of view. Those involved in strategic communication management would benefit from a similar, rigorous training in advocacy.

So now I invite you to register for our audio webcast of Economic Update 2008. Invite your CFO or CEO to listen as well. The Canadian Public Relations Society sent out a direct invitation to its membership a few weeks ago, and the number of practitioners who registered from across Canada is quite encouraging. Thanks, also, to Dave Forde, principal of the new PR in Canada information source, who had the news release on the portal before anyone else.

Here’s the template for our direct invite. I hope you plan to join us.

Certified General Accountants Sponsor Free Webcast of Economic Update 2008
Featuring Derek Holt of RBC Economics Research

Worldwide, the 2008 year has already witnessed great turmoil in credit, commodity and currency markets, which definitely bodes to the likelihood of downside risks to North American economies in the months ahead. Derek Holt’s up-to-the-minute session will detail the current and expected global and national economic and financial market conditions, with a particular emphasis on the challenges facing Ontario and Canada’s economies. Anticipated topics include:

– an outlook on interest rates
– currency valuations and where the (Canadian) dollar is heading
– entertaining the ‘R’ word,” in both the US and Canada, and what impact a recession—either for our neighbour or homegrown—will have on areas such as consumer confidence, the housing market and the manufacturing sector

If your firm is a multinational or if you have American clients and/or customers, even a USA-only recession is likely to have an impact on your business this year. Take advantage of this opportunity to hear a detailed trade and industry forecast from one of Canada’s top economists (rather than just a few sound bites via a media outlet). Then start figuring out the tactics you will need to adjust in an economic downturn or (in the event of a Canadian recession) whether you need to be overhauling your organization’s longer-term business plan, including education and strategic communication, public relations and marketing efforts.

Register for free in advance, then tune in audio-live (starting at approximately 8:40 a.m. North American EST) on Thursday, February 21st to hear Derek Holt’s The Canadian Economy in 2008 keynote. Alternatively, register now but access the archived webcast at your leisure (as many times as you want) for up to one year. The webcast, including the presentation and a Q&A, will last approximately one hour. Questions from the (paid attendance) in-house audience will be answered first, but if time allows questions from the live webcast audience will also be addressed.

Registration URL: http://tinyurl.com/24fpqj

Ontario not keeping up, economist warns CGAs (coverage of the Economic Update in The Bottom Line: The Independent Voice for Canada’s Accounting and Financial Professionals

Flickr stream of some of the photos from the actual event.

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2 Replies to “Entertaining the “R” word. Will you embrace, spin or hide from that elephant in the room?

  1. Thanks for including a link to my post! There are a number of Kiwis who refuse to acknowledge the possibility of recession reaching our shores and have adopted an ‘it won’t happen to us’ attitude. Whether an American recession would have a huge impact on NZ or not is yet to be seen but it certainly can’t hurt for companies to be prepared. I also fully believe that, should recession hit, PR people are best placed to help these companies make the best of the situation.

    Anyway- enough blabbing from me! I love your blog, keep up the good work.

  2. Thanks for linking to my post! I’m in excellent company among those links, and this blog, all are fascinating reads. I know some PR practitioners are loathe to talk about finance or crunch numbers, but if we hope to have any long-term plans, or if we hope to be taken seriously by the execs, we’ve got to have a decent understanding of finance and economics.

    Looking forward to the webcast tomorrow!

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