In my former job working in communications for Merck’s biopharma division, I struggled daily with the company name.
Here’s the thing: I did not work for Merck & Co. — aka the American Merck, the bigger of the two and the one that 99% of people assume you mean when they hear the name.
My employer was Merck KGaA. Ah, the German Merck, people would say. Yes, the original Merck, its family owners would have you know. The world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. They didn’t really care that they were dwarfed in size by their bigger American cousin. They had the legal rights to the name everywhere in the world but in North America, and they used it with pride. And if people didn’t understand, well…that was their problem.
While I understood their position from a historic point of view, as a communicator it was counter-intuitive. We PR folk want a solid base upon which to build our brand’s reputation, a clearly differentiated identity and strengths compared to competitors. The confusion around ‘Which Merck?’ only served to water down anything we had to say about the company. read more
As we reach the end of 2013, it’s a time when many of us reflect back on the year and ask ourselves, ‘What could I have done better?’
This presentation from Bruce Kasanoff offers some of the best advice I can think of. (Especially Rule #1) Whether you apply it to your business, your relationships or any other aspect of your life…the world needs more heroes!
Give it a read: it’s quick, it’s fun and it’s something we can all do to make our world better.
Click to view on SlideShare: How to be a superhero!
As a communication professional I admire good PR regardless of creed or politics. So I’ve decided to share a letter that the Obama White House issued to address the government shutdown with U.S. federal employees. Simply because it provides, in my opinion, an example of good PR writing.
Why? Because it begins with an understanding of audience. Continues with an emphasis on the 3 most important letters in PR (“y-o-u”). Because it tells the truth (or contains factual information). Because it is true to its brand, with core messages throughout. Along with ample amounts of the secret ingredient of all good communication: emotion. read more
You often hear the expression in French, “Le cordonnier est toujours le plus mal chaussé.” The English translation, while not often used, is “The cobbler’s children have no shoes.” Meaning that those who do something for a living often neglect their own needs.
I decided not to be an example of this when starting my own business. Creating and building a brand was top priority. How else would I be able to sell myself as a copywriter who believes that identity – and thus brand – is the driving force behind all communication?
It’s still early days and my brand development is a work-in-progress but I’ve managed to lay the foundations of a solid professional identity.
Here is my approach to building a brand, summarized in 5 key questions: read more
It seems fitting to begin with a story. I’m a writer who believes in leaving no story untold, so here’s a recent chapter of my own: how I came to start up an independent communication consultancy.
In April 2012, the multinational group I was working for announced its decision to close divisional headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. This was not entirely unexpected – we’d experienced some setbacks in the pipeline and, like many pharmaceutical companies, needed to streamline operations.
Change is never easy. The announcement that over 1,000 jobs would leave the beautiful glass tower we occupied in Geneva shattered quite a few illusions. News on that scale leaves no one unmoved. Being one for silver linings, however, I began almost immediately to think about my own plan B.
Attending a social media workshop at the university a few days later, I found myself uttering the words that had begun to crystallize in my mind: “I currently work for a major biopharmaceutical company but am preparing to launch a business as a freelance copywriter and communication consultant.”
At the break, one of the other participants came up to me and commented: “So, you’re leaving the corporate world?”
“Leaving the corporate world.” That gave me pause. It sounded so harsh and final, as if I were permanently exiling myself from a known world. “Well, yes, although I still hope to stay in touch with it through my future clients,” I smiled. But her question was well-timed in that it made me ask myself a few tough questions. read more