The rise of activism is contributing to a state of extreme uncertainty for executive decision making. More than ever, leaders are grappling with a host of unprecedented global events and marveling at the speed with which their markets and organizations are shifting around them. Nik Gowing and Chris Langdon are conducting an ongoing investigation into why leaders are finding it increasingly difficult to anticipate and prepare for the biggest issues of our time. They have authored a report, "Thinking the Unthinkable," and will share their provocative research results, which are based on confidential interviews with over 60 C-Suite executives and senior public servants. They will help us better understand what CCOs need to do to equip themselves and their leaders to operate in an era of intense pressure and volatility.
The focus of this conversation will be to understand how employees are activating change within their companies and what leaders can do to work with them more effectively. We will explore questions such as: What is employee activism? How do you identify and work with employee activists? What are the advantages for organizations that proactively work with their employee activists? Page Up Member, Ethan McCarty, will moderate a panel with Tracy Chou, co-founder of Project Include who will discuss her role as an employee activist when she was with Pinterest. They will be joined by Dawn Lyon who will explain how Glassdoor encourages companies to make changes in their workplaces and share research on what today's employees want most. Heide Gardner of Interpublic will describe her extensive experiences with multi-cultural Employee Resource Groups.
These workshops, led by Page and Page Up members, will explore Page thought leadership research topics, the Spring Seminar theme and issues related to the Page strategic planning process that will be taking place during 2017. The workshops offer an informal environment in order to fuel candid, intimate conversations where participants can openly share experiences and observations and solicit valuable input from colleagues.
I. Data Analytics and Measurement - led by Molly Rauzi and Alyssa Gilmore
The oceans of data that are now available to us pose tremendous potential for expressing in real terms the value that our functions represent to the success of the enterprise, and managing the efforts of the communications function. The trick, of course, is mining that vast ocean for truly meaningful and actionable insights. Neither data systems nor measurement approaches are universally one-size-fits-all, and so communications leaders must develop distinct approaches that match the unique objectives of the enterprise. In this workshop, participants will share and explore best practices for measuring communications value through data.
There are new realities in today's media universe, and communicators are deciphering this evolving landscape in real time. Enterprises are retooling media strategies as newsroom numbers are dwindling. Who and what affects public opinion is shifting. Tweets move markets and signal national policy. There's a category of "news" that is unabashedly false, and platform algorithms are the new media filters. In this workshop, participants will share perspectives on the changes that are taking place, what they mean for the roles we play, and how to successfully navigate a new, complex and fluid reality. The insights shared will inform a new Page Society research project devoted to this topic.III. Leading in a World of Constant Change - The Emerging Issues that are Defining Our Profession - led by Rob Flaherty and Dave Samson
Change is a constant and our jobs have changed considerably in the last five years – both in scope and complexity. We can be certain that the degree of change and complexity will only accelerate in the years to come. New technologies and business models, growing stakeholder empowerment and expectations, and the new realities of a globalization are creating both challenges and opportunities for leaders. In this workshop, which will inform the next Long Range Strategic Plan for the Page Society, members will share predictions for how our profession will evolve in the years to come and the resulting impact on the nature of our roles.IV. Issues Management Related to Activist Stakeholders - led by Sarab Kochhar and Brad Staples
Activism seems to be ubiquitous today and it's the theme of our conference. Shareholder activists pressuring boards. Employee activists advocating on issues of pay and benefits. Social activists demanding action through boycotts, protests and organized social media campaigns. Communicators are uniquely able to understand the broader stakeholder environment, anticipate issues, and prepare the enterprise to take action – either in advance of or in response to various forms of activism. In this workshop, participants will discuss the current environment of activist stakeholders and strategies for helping enterprises stay ahead of issues.V. The Digital Future of Employee Engagement - led by Stacey Tank and Umayma Abubakar
The CCO of the future will develop sophisticated systems and processes that use insights derived from data to deliver tailored engagement experiences for stakeholders based on their unique behaviors, needs and attributes. These endeavors will in many cases be pioneered internally, and many companies are already deploying systems that engage employees around company brand and culture, policies and practices, and essential skills development. In this workshop, participants will discuss leading-edge efforts to build fully integrated systems for engaging employees through digital platforms. The insights shared will inform a Page project that will describe best practices for developing enterprise Digital Engagement Systems.VI. The Purpose-Driven Enterprise - led by Bjorn Edlund, Perry Yeatman and Marcia DiStaso
Many of today's leading enterprises are placing their corporate purpose at their core, defining their business and brand by the value that it creates for society rather than just for customers, employees and shareholders. Whether it takes the form of CEOs speaking out on social issues or companies pursuing positive change in the world through their activities, people have a growing expectation that companies lead with purpose. In this workshop, participants will explore the role of the modern enterprise in society, the role of the CCO in activating corporate purpose, and help shape new Page research on this topic.
Activist shareholder activity has increased significantly over the past three years, presenting new challenges for corporate communications leaders. This session will examine shareholder activism through the lenses of four primary stakeholder groups: activists, business press, specialist agencies, and management/C-suite. This lively conversation will include very practical advice about how to prepare for and manage the disruption and risks associated with activism; explore the current state of investor activism; examine how companies can defend against unwanted advances; share how activist shareholders can disrupt deals and corporate plans; and explain how and when to leverage specialists to augment your bench.
M. Farooq Kathwari has a long and distinguished reputation as an activist CEO. In 2016, he became Co-chair of the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council, an organization founded to address bigotry against Muslims and Jewish people in the U.S. In addition to leading Ethan Allen, he shares his leadership expertise with those organizing humanitarian efforts, working for human rights and working towards international conflict resolution. His list of accomplishments includes serving as Chairman of Refugees International, as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and receiving the Outstanding Citizen by Choice Award from the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security. Mr. Kathwari will engage in a fireside chat during which he will share an insider's view of what CCOs can expect when their CEOs engage deeply in activist causes.
The past year has been extremely turbulent for journalism. Many citizens have lost confidence in its objectivity and veracity. Unprecedented battle lines have been drawn between venerable media outlets and the new U.S. administration. Newsrooms are shrinking. Social media empires are burgeoning. How did journalism reach this point and what can we expect in the future? What role are political and social activism playing in the way news is researched, reported and shared? In this onstage conversation with Gerard Baker, editor of one of most respected news organizations in the world, we'll learn his perspective on changes in the field of journalism. We'll explore the special relationship between public relations professionals and journalists and their shared belief in civil, fact-based, and ethical reporting. Baker will discuss the challenge of marshaling facts and context for readers as the economics of journalism become more grim and as political polarization increases in the U.S. and elsewhere. We will reserve ample time for seminar participants to interact with Baker on these and other related topics.
The role of fake news in shaping public opinion and citizens' actions illustrates a new nadir for journalistic objectivity and veracity. It may well be, however, that our profession is in an optimal position to help stem the tide of this pernicious influence on society and shape the trajectory for a more fact-based, honest approach to informing the public in the future – both via traditional journalism as well as through The Fifth Estate. This session will use input from outside experts on topics such as a definition of fake news, the rise of fact checking sites, and clear examples of the impact fake news is having on a civil society and both the public and private sector. Significant time will be devoted to audience interaction that will spur seminar participants to process the implications for companies and our profession, including an examination of the opportunities and responsibilities we have as expert communicators.
On January 21, 2017, a record-breaking, worldwide protest march was held. Over 500,000 people gathered in Washington, D.C. alone, and worldwide participation was estimated at approximately 5 million people. It was the largest single day demonstration in U.S. history. Tamika Mallory, a political organizer and one of the four national co-chairs of the event will share her experiences in organizing a protest of this scale, and she will provide insights into how Page members can work effectively with political activists.
This session will address the question, what must we, as Page members and communicators, do in the face of aggressive activism, challenges to facts and truth and a crisis in civility? The answer is to be found in the Page Principles and the Page Model: Tell the Truth. Prove It with Action. Listen to the Stakeholder. Communicators must play a central role in defining, activating and aligning our enterprises around a strong and admirable corporate character, and then engage with all stakeholders – including activists -- through open, transparent, civil dialogue. One of the biggest challenges to such exchanges is the current environment of vitriolic rhetoric, acerbic exchanges and dishonest propaganda. Our session will start with a thought-provoking presentation by Sally Kohn, a lawyer, political commentator, community organizer and founder and chief executive officer of the Movement Vision Lab, a liberal think tank. Kohn was a contributor for the Fox News Channel and now regularly appears as a political commentator on CNN. Kohn will address the role of civility as it relates to building shared belief with activists, and she will include material from her upcoming book about civility. Page member Aedhmar Hynes will engage Kohn in a thought-provoking discussion of the role of our profession in reaching common ground in a polarized world.