Engaging Davos: Updates from the World Economic Forum 2014

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Like no other event, the annual World Economic Forum in Davos provides us with a compelling reminder of how the language of public relations has well and truly penetrated the boardroom. The importance of trust, the requirement for authenticity, the need to marry profit and purpose — these are all issues that effectively form core elements of the Davos agenda. This year, for example, it is income equality that appears set to concentrate the minds of the superelite, who have identified it as the most pressing threat to the global economy. As WEF founder Klaus Schwab argued last week, uninclusive growth is not sustainable. The title of this year’s Forum, meanwhile, is “The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business.” It is the kind of phrase that will ring true with public relations people, or at least those who are aware of the need to balance multiple stakeholder expectations, rather than focusing on profit to the detriment of all else. So it is hardly surprising that Davos is now an increasingly necessary stop on the global treadmill for senior comms heads and global agency CEOs. A couple of years ago, we analysed this trend in some detail, asking whether Davos simply represents an exercise in spin—an attempt to deflect criticism and deter regulation during the one week of the year when business leaders profess to care about anything other than profit. That kind of argument is not an uncommon one, but is sharply contested by the public relations people who make the Davos pilgrimage. If nothing else, the WEF affords them an opportunity to position their work as central to corporate behavior, rather than as another trivial marketing tactic. In that context, the Forum’s agenda is not the only draw; the opportunity to build relationships with business and political leaders can only help the industry’s efforts to build stronger boardroom credibility.
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  Updates from the World Economic Forum 2014   About MSLGROUP  MSLGROUP is Publicis Groupe’s strategic communications and engagement group, advisors in all aspects of communication strategy: from consumer PR to financial communications, from public affairs to reputation management, and from crisis communications to experiential marketing and events. With more than 3,500 people across close to 100 offices worldwide, MSLGROUP is also the largest PR network in Europe, fast-growing China, and India. The group offers strategic planning and counsel, insight-guided thinking and big, compelling ideas – followed by thorough execution.www.mslgroup.com/@msl_groupwww.facebook.com/MSLGROUP@msl_group About Holmes Report  The Holmes Group is dedicated to proving and improving the value of public relations, by providing insight, knowledge and recognition to public relations professionals.The Holmes Group was founded in 2000 by Paul Holmes, Editor-in-Chief and CEO, who has more than two decades of experience writing about and evaluating the public relations business and consulting with both public relations firms and their clients.The Holmes Group delivers against its mission by providing the most sophisticated reporting and analysis on public relations trends and issues.In 2014, The Holmes Report, in association with MSLGROUP, createda microsite called Engaging Davos (davos.holmesreport.com) that included real-time editorial content written by Arun Sudhaman, editor-in-chief, and partner content provided by MSLGROUP. We are pleased to provide you a reprint of much of the content that was posted.www.holmesreport.com@holmesreportwww.facebook.com/holmesreport  3   Engaging Davos: The PR perspective Like no other event, the annual World Economic Forum in Davos provides us with a compelling reminder of how the language of public relations has well and truly penetrated the boardroom.The importance of trust, the requirement for authenticity, the need to marry profit and purpose — these are all issues that effectively form core elements of the Davos agenda. This year, for example, it is income equality that appears set to concentrate the minds of the super-elite, who have identified it as the most pressing threat to the global economy.As WEF founder Klaus Schwab argued last week, uninclusive growth is not sustainable. The title of this year’s Forum, meanwhile, is “The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business.” It is the kind of phrase that will ring true with public relations people, or at least those who are aware of the need to balance multiple stakeholder expectations, rather than focusing on profit to the detriment of all else. By Arun Sudhaman  4  So it is hardly surprising that Davos is now an increasingly necessary stop on the global treadmill for senior comms heads and global agency CEOs. A couple of years ago, we analysed this trend in some detail, asking whether Davos simply represents an exercise in spin—an attempt to deflect criticism and deter regulation during the one week of the year when business leaders profess to care about anything other than profit.That kind of argument is not an uncommon one, but is sharply contested by the public relations people who make the Davos pilgrimage. If nothing else, the WEF affords them an opportunity to position their work as central to corporate behavior, rather than as another trivial marketing tactic. In that context, the Forum’s agenda is not the only draw; the opportunity to build relationships with business and political leaders can only help the industry’s efforts to build stronger boardroom credibility.To investigate all of this and more, I will be reporting live from Davos this week for the Holmes Report, in conjunction with MSLGROUP. We’re hopeful you find the coverage illuminating and helpful. As always, we look forward to your participation and insight.
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