Finding the Little Dipper Among Sea of Stars: How a Crisis Can Uncover Deeper Issues

Lessons from United Airlines

By Rosabel Tao and Jason Middleton at Cunningham Collective

It’s clear that United Airlines’ handling of its crisis last week has been a first class PR failure. It’s looked more like a slow-motion pileup on the highway -- one car after another, careening into the previous one, with only diminishing damage with each collision.

From the CEO’s tone-deaf first response, to a new, only somewhat unrelated removal of paying passengers — newlyweds, no less! — United is providing a use case of how not to handle a crisis.

On the surface, there’s a viral video of a passenger being forcibly removed from his seat -- and the plane — that not only has him screaming, but other passengers horrified as they witness what resembles the removal of a violent protester during a riot.

Then there was the corporate-babble initial response from the company that not only sounded insincere, but also poisoned the well for all subsequent announcements. And it’s still going on. Yesterday, CEO Oscar Munoz continued his apology tour on the earnings call.

We previously talked about how companies bungle their crisis response, why that first statement is so important and what a “good” statement is.

[Click HERE for the first installment on how to handle a public relations crisis: The importance of a company’s first public statement or response.]

In the immediate aftermath of a crisis, the primary focus is on understanding what happened and why. As the smoke begins to clear during crisis response, a company turns its attention to the underlying reasons of how it happened.

The how of anything can be a difficult truth to uncover, but it is critical for that company, moving forward, to begin repairing relationships with stakeholders, especially customers.

Often, one of the causes of how points to the corporate culture. Those cultural cracks are shown in stark relief during a crisis.

Any company can be exposed to an unexpected crisis. That said, it is possible to weather a crisis more gracefully if it has already built a well of goodwill with its stakeholders, including such as customers, partners, employees and even government regulators.

This value of goodwill should not be overlooked. If a company has a better, more positive reputation in the first place, it’s more likely to be given the benefit of the doubt when a negative issue emerges.

Businesses need to invest in building goodwill continually – not just one-offs – by demonstrating positive commitment to customers and the communities in which they operate. This helps build trust, credibility and loyalty – which will help companies ride out the tough times.

In fairness to United, it’s a challenge to build goodwill within the airline industry. Major factors are not in their control — things like weather, long security lines at airports and copious regulations.

That said, what they can control is their customer-facing identity. United had problems before this situation. According to study by J.D. Power, it scored last in passenger satisfaction amongst the traditional airlines, so it’s no surprise how harshly it’s been judged.

Rosabel Tao, a principal at Cunningham Collective, has more than 25 years of corporate communications experience. She knows first-hand about the importance of a well-crafted, timely first response. She has also helped guide a major financial brand into newer, more productive waters when it comes to building a customer-satisfaction culture.

Here’s an excerpt from a question-and-answer session. In addition to these answers, please listen to our podcast to hear more about how companies find themselves in the middle of a crisis.

Jason: We’ve had some real PR nightmares so far in 2017. We’ve had Uber, Nivea, Pepsi, Sean Spicer and now United. I think everyone has seen that video from the United flight by now. So let’s take that one as an example for a PR nightmare that’s playing out in the public. Why do you think United reacted the way they did?

Rosabel: Crisis communications situations are so complex. There are a thousand factors that can go into them. I can’t really speak to why they reacted why they did, but we do know is that it took them a long time to come out with that first statement.

And that first statement is so important in every crisis situation, because every communication after that is filtered through that first one. So, it’s super important to get that first one right.

J: OK, let’s drill into United’s first statement. It did miss the mark. It came across as uncaring or unemotional – like it was no big deal. Doesn’t that approach just leave people cold?

R: Yes, in fact I think that’s a big crisis-management “don’t.” Some crisis experts consider Exxon-Mobile as being the standard bearer for a bad crisis response, but now they’re saying United has topped Exxon in that category.

They actually ended up having two crises. A primary one and a secondary crisis that stemmed from the fact their response was so late, and so very much off the mark.

Back in the days of Exxon-Mobil’s crisis, we didn’t have social media, so things didn’t quite zip around as fast as they do today. It took United a day and a half to respond. During that day and a half, that video has been seen at least 210 million times.

When there is a long delay in releasing the first statement, it gives the public ample opportunity to fill in the void with all manner of recrimination, real or not, fair or not.

Plus, it is really hard to get over the visuals of what happened. It was so disturbing. None of us can “un-see” what we saw. Without a compelling, dynamic response, United will be recovering from this crisis for years.

The first moments after something breaks, mass chaos can ensue. Companies are spending their first few moments trying to understand what exactly happened, and why. What preceded the event for that to happen? What was the cause? Was the passenger a suspected terrorist? Was he threatening the staff?

J: So you're in a war room, how do those talk points happen for responding to the public during this?

R: The first thing that happens after you assess the situation and try to understand what's going on. In some ways, I think of it as trying to identify the litter dipper in a sea of stars. Once you see the dipper, you can identify the North Star and then you will understand what you need to do. That’s why having a crisis preparedness in plan helps, it’ll get you to the North Star more quickly.

J: Let’s continue about the ‘war room.’ Let’s say you have input from key decision makers. Now it seems as if it’s almost a “discovery” phase as the company tries to nail down the “what” and the ”why” of the situation.

Does anything else come out of that discovery phase?

R: In the very first moments of a crisis you’re really focusing on what happened and why it happened – what were the events leading up to what went down.

Then, as the smoke begins clearing, you’re immediately turning your attention to “how did this happen?” Almost always in these situations it’s not the actions of one or two rogue employees, that’s very rarely the case.

Usually it’s a larger, systemic issue going on in the company that allows something like this to happen.

In United’s case, the front-line employees probably did not feel like they had enough leeway to really resolve the situation above and beyond the playbook that they were given.

I think that’s also very common. Companies are trying to exert so much control that could happen that it backfires on them. Employees aren’t empowered enough to do the right thing for customers in the moment it happens. When a problem occurs, there is not enough time to go through a complicated or time-consuming approval process.

J: That’s a fine line for a company, because if they don’t have control they’re exposed to risk. If they’re too tightly controlled, then the point-of-contact with a customer can go off the rails.

You mentioned earlier systemic problems that can be exposed during a crisis.

R: It’s a combination of two things – systems or processes and company culture.

J: So it’s a cultural issue that may have been calcified over time?

R: Right. In this particular case, my conjecture is that United’s front-line employees didn’t feel like they had an opportunity to really paint outside the lines. In other words, to really try and resolve the customer situation in that moment above and beyond what’s in their rulebook.

J: Changing even part of a corporate culture can be difficult though…

R:  True. Cultural change is extremely hard, but it can be done if it starts from the top and the company is committed to change at all levels. Authenticity is key. People know when they’re just getting lip service from a company.

For a real-life example of changing corporate culture after a corporate crisis, please check out the podcast within this post.

Also, please let us know your thoughts, or share a case study, in the comments section below.

United Airlines: Between the Devil and Deep Blue Sea

When a Crisis Strikes

By Rosabel Tao

Between the devil and the deep blue sea. That’s what managing a crisis is like. If you’ve never heard the term, it means “to choose between two undesirable situations."

My husband asked me a good question: “If you were handling PR for United, what would you have done?” First off, what happened was a catastrophe in every way. It was shocking and extremely disturbing. Combined with the terrible way they handled it, this is going haunt them for a long, long time.

Even when companies have the best intentions, a blundered response can make them instantly seem guilty, or even sinister. That’s why the first statement is critical. It sets the tone for how people will receive future communications. While you can’t plan for a crisis, you can plan for an orderly and sensitive response.

A lot of companies bungle their first (and sometimes the second and even third) response.  

There could a be a lot of reasons, such as:

  • They are in denial
  • They initially misjudge the severity of situation
  • They underestimate or think they can outrun the public’s reaction
  • They hope (unreasonably) it’ll pass quickly and go away on its own
  • They err too far on the side of caution and by the time they respond, the story is too far gone
  • They are worried about saying too much or admitting fault for fear of legal reprisal
  • They are operating on a different value system than the public has
  • Their privacy policies, government regulations or legal confidentiality clauses limit how transparent they can be

How does that happen? When a crisis hits, there are a thousand factors to take into considering a response. Behind the scenes, there is a certain cadence that almost always plays out in the early moments after a crisis hits:

  • You're caught flat-footed. You have no advance warning. (You can plan for some incidents, but I’m not sure anyone could have anticipated this one.)
  • Even if notified immediately, you don’t have much information, so you’re not sure what exactly happened, how and why. Often, it's mass confusion.
  • As soon as you hear about the incident, you gather all the key executives to assess the situation and make decisions. Inevitably, there is at least one critical person who is not immediately reachable (i.e., they are on a plane, on vacation in Siberia, whatever) and that person has to be tracked down.
  • Meanwhile, the initial story goes viral and people draw conclusions before you’re able to provide background and context. All this puts you immediately 10 steps behind.
  • This in turn immediately triggers an avalanche of media inquiries, outraged consumers on social media, questions from concerned employees, customer service calls and more. Everyone is pressuring the company to say something, anything. All this can happen in less than an hour.
  • You do not want to issue a response until you have facts, contingencies and a full vetting of the story, but that takes time — time you do not have, as the story is reverberating around the world.
  • There are a lot of competing opinions in the Executive suite. Saying too much puts you at legal risk in the case of a lawsuit. Saying too little puts you at PR risk. (I’m sure you can guess which side I’m on.) That’s why you’re “between the devil and the deep blue sea.” It’s a precarious balance and you try to find a statement that appeases all sides.
  • A statement is drafted and all the key people have to review and edit it. If the situation is technically complicated, you have to find a way to explain it simply but thoroughly. This is difficult to do because when you oversimplify it, you lose some of the nuance. Hopefully you still end up with a strong statement, but as we saw with United, it can easily get watered down in the process.

Any company can suffer from an unexpected crisis. It’s how they respond that sets them apart. While every crisis has its own unique set of circumstances, it helps to have a crisis preparedness plan in place. The plan should anticipate all the possible crisis scenarios and pre-determine exactly how you will handle the internal and external communications process. You cannot possibly anticipate every scenario, but having a plan allows you to reach decisions more quickly in the thick of confusion and the pressure of the moment and help ensure you get the response right.

When Your Brand is Heading Into a Free Fall, Do Not Push it Over the Cliff

United Off a Cliff.png

 

While I can’t know why United chose to respond the way they did, everyone knows that their first statement was a disaster.

It took United a day and a half to release their first statement, and when they did, it was cold, bland and totally off base: “This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers.”

Re-accommodating customers?! That reads more like apologizing for having to move someone’s seat — not forcibly removing a paying passenger from a plane that United, itself, intentionally overbooked.

United’s statement was widely mocked for being ridiculous and tone deaf. (Case in point: Washington Post headline: "United Ridiculed for Corporate Speak.") Later, United issued two more external statements — each one stronger than the last. On the third day, United's CEO fell on his sword again, going on Good Morning America to humbly apologize and relay that he felt "shame." 

And the fallout continues…

That’s why it’s critical that the first statement is “good.” It sets the tone for how people will receive future communications. So, that begs the question: what is a “good” statement?

A “good” statement is one that:

  • Is issued immediately, ideally within a few hours or at least the same day, even if you don’t have all the facts. It’s more important to acknowledge the situation, show caring and provide updates as more details emerge
  • Demonstrates a human and humane response; takes responsibility and apologizes with sincerity, empathy and remorse
  • Does not hide behind corporate-speak and legalese. Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it moral or right and no one will make that distinction in the court of public opinion
  • Communicates steps you are taking to rectify the specific problem (i.e., third party investigation, etc.) and how you will address the broader underlying cause of the issue
  • Promises to keep people updated on your progress and completion of these steps

You’ll see that United’s last statements did follow these guidelines – but how much better would it have been if they said it in the first place?

Let’s recognize it’s extremely hard to strike the right balance of expressing genuine contrition but also not exposing the company to more risk. However, when your brand is in heading into a free fall, this is not the time to err on the side of caution. You can still save it. The event that precipitated the crisis is bad enough but a poorly handled response can push the brand off a cliff.

Loss of trust and reputation costs real and lasting damage to a brand’s value (See Volkswagen as a cautionary tale) that will take years to recover from – if ever.

 

Rosabel Tao is a Communications Strategist at Cunningham Collective.

 

READ MORE ABOUT CRISIS PREPAREDNESS AND COMMUNICATION

Why Business Needs Poetry

business-poetry.jpg

If you had asked me nine years ago what I wanted to be when I grew up, a career in business would have been at the very bottom of the list. A fresh graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder, I had majored in Creative Writing and Anthropology and was hell-bent on changing the world. I had written poems about “tiptoeing on the conscience of corporate execs” and was concerned that my decision to go to graduate school amounted to poeticide (the act of killing one’s poetry). In my commencement speech, I addressed my decision to specialize in Poetry head on:

“I entered into CU in the fall of 2004 as an English major. And I later decided to specialize in Creative Writing, specifically Poetry – which everyone knows is the best major to pick if you want to get a really good, high-paying job after college.”

The joke got quite a few laughs at the time and would still to this day. Poetry majors aren’t widely regarded for possessing the strategic acumen required to be successful in business. Yet, nine years later, here I am, a poet swimming upstream in a sea of businesspeople. My experience has taught me that the business world desperately needs poetry. 

Here are five reasons why:

 

Poets craft beautiful, memorable content.

The ability to effectively create a message that is not only relevant, but resonant, to a target audience is essential for business. But many companies overlook this—they place junior staff in communications and marketing roles and are frustrated when they don’t get press coverage. Good PR and marketing doesn’t stem from media relations. It starts at the foundation with positioning and branding. It starts with a message architecture that is injected like a virus in everything a company says and does. Without contagious messaging, a company’s communications are at risk for falling flat.

From using the right sounds, choosing the best words and structuring sentences for optimal delivery, the best practices that make for beautiful poetry also allow for beautiful, memorable content.

 

Poets are the yin to the business grad yang. 

In business, we occasionally fall victim to favoring our own perspectives. A hiring manager might prefer candidates who graduated from the same business school, or people who were in the same fraternity. Why? Because we get used to what is comfortable and what works.

At Cunningham Collective, we value diversity of perspective. Every engagement we undertake includes a collective innovation session. In these sessions, we put our team’s collective brainpower to work on a specific client, evaluate their problems and opportunities from multiple perspectives and apply the best solution for that problem.

My background in poetry provides a fresh perspective to these sessions.  Whereas many of my colleagues see frameworks and supply chains, I see story arcs, characters and context. Is one type of thinker better than the other? No. But they’re much better together.

 

Poets aren’t just right-brain thinkers.

The left brain/right brain debate is nothing new. Left-brain thinkers are viewed as logical, process-oriented people while right-brain thinkers are seen as creative and artistic. But a new study from Duke University has challenged this prevailing sentiment. It discovered that creative people have better-connected brains, enabling them to more easily communicate between brain hemispheres.

What implications does this have for business? It suggests that creative thinking types like poets are not only more creative, but they’re also better able to communicate between different areas of the brain to solve problems. And speaking of problem-solving, a recent Harvard Business Review article found that most of the issues businesses encounter solving problems has to do with an incomplete understanding of the problem. If those problems are repositioned or reframed in another context, a creative solution is more likely to become apparent.

 

Poets make simple the wildly complex

Poets have a rare ability to take a complicated topic and surface a specific feeling in a concise and compelling way. A great example of this is Ezra Pound’s famous poem “In a Station of the Metro.”  

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;

Petals on a wet, black bough.

In this poem, Ezra Pound vividly captures a moment – bustling travelers in the station of the Paris metro – in only 14 words. This talent is not only enviable, it also endlessly applicable to business. It’s a beneficial skill for content-focused roles in copywriting, marketing and communications. But this ability to make simple the wildly complex can be applied much more broadly to UI development, product managers, software engineers, even executive management.

 

Poets possess inherent executive leadership skills

The Bureau of Labor & Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook sadly does not profile the job outlook, skills and work environment for poets in the United States. They do, however, evaluate a related profession, writers and authors. It lists the following Important Qualities successful writers and authors typically possess:

  •  Adaptability
  •  Creativity
  •  Critical-Thinking Skills
  •  Determination
  •  Persuasion
  •  Social Perceptiveness
  •  Writing Skills

This list reads like a direct description of some of the most successful, game-changing CEOs out there today like Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Reed Hastings and more. These “Important Qualities” are must-haves for any executive today. They may even be the qualities that differentiate great CEOs from those that are merely good.

From creative problem-solving and mastering the art of simplifying the complex, to crafting compelling content that resonates, businesses can learn a lot from poetry. I just hope they’ll listen.   

 

Emily Stine is a Strategist at Cunningham Collective. She also occasionally writes poetry. 

In Defense of Positioning

My passion is positioning companies for success, specifically technology companies, and I’m writing a book about the process I developed to do this. I like to think of it as Trout and Ries 2.0. It’s a how-to manual for articulating what your company actually does and why it matters. It’s called Mothers, Mechanics and Missionaries: The Only Way to Position Your Company for Competitive Advantage. It is based on a framework that identifies corporate DNA and then helps articulate a unique position in the marketplace that your company can own. Identifying the ideal market position and articulating it in a compelling way is the end goal, but the process to get there takes into account the “DNA” of your company and illuminates positioning paths that align with it. Positioning without this alignment results in inauthentic descriptions of your company and deteriorates in a matter of months. It is the alignment of your corporate DNA and your leadership team that makes for a sticky positioning statement that attracts customers and enables you to explain how you fulfill their needs. We call this “Getting to A-Ha.”

Several weeks ago I explained the framework to the CEO of a well-funded and most-likely-to-succeed startup. Let’s call him “Steve.” Steve was looking for a new way to talk about his company as he expands his product features and seeks to attain more customers. He was intrigued. So intrigued, in fact, that he went back the mount where he recounted my thesis to his VC seeking guidance for his own positioning problem. Mr. VC wasn’t buying it. He told him that as the CEO of a startup, he couldn’t afford to focus on one or another “DNA type.” He had to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. In effect, what he told the CEO is, “You have to be all things to all people.” Not easy to do and in fact, the antithesis of positioning. Great positioning is about sacrifice. And more importantly, it is about the discipline of sacrifice. Great venture capital is about picking the passionate founder who can also lead, about timing product-market fit and about identifying resources (like positioning) that can help turn ideas into businesses.

Here’s what I told Steve.

I developed a “corporate DNA” framework for positioning about 15 years ago to help tech companies get to a credible and compelling description of their market position (positioning statement). Credible because it has to ring true and compelling because it has to be differentiated from competitors and exciting to customers. Many marketing types figure this out in the privacy of their own creative brains and come up with something that sounds very good at first pass—frankly, that’s what I used to do. However, I learned that this approach doesn’t work as well with technology companies. First, very little evidence for the new position is apparent and engineers like evidence. Second, leadership team members usually don’t align with the new position because they haven’t participated in its development. Consequently, the solutions that come from this exercise don’t last very long. So I decided to develop a process—or more accurately, reverse engineer my own process, to determine exactly how I was developing “positionings” for clients. That’s when the “Corporate DNA Framework” was born.

It is a framework to aid in the determination of the best possible description of a market position. It is a bit like “personal medicine” for marketing. We look at the DNA of a company and help determine a positioning statement that aligns with the corporate body because when it is aligned, it is easier to execute and has a better chance of success. This framework relies on an intimate understanding of the company, its product and its leadership (DNA) as well as the competitive environment. 

The construct is relatively simple and it focuses on the dominant DNA of the three types of companies identified in the thesis: a customer-oriented company (think Zappos), a product-oriented company (think Uber) or a concept-oriented company (think Salesforce). I call these Mothers, Mechanics and Missionaries. Each of these companies organizes itself a bit differently, focuses on different success metrics and hires different kinds of people. They each express themselves according to their DNA.

And it turns out that each type has available to it two positioning directions. Mothers can position themselves around customer segmentation (like Garmin) or customer experience (like Lyft). Mechanics can position themselves around features (like Microsoft) or value (like Huawei) and Missionaries can position themselves around the Next Big Thing (23andMe) or cult of personality (Hampton Creek).

It is important to note that recessive genes play a huge role here too. Just because Zappos is a customer-oriented company doesn’t mean it ignores the product. Just because Uber focuses on the product doesn’t mean it abdicates responsibility to customers. And so on. The framework simply enables companies to develop brands that are consistent with who they are and what they trying to do. None of this precludes the prime directive of walking and chewing gum at the same time. But it’s the companies that know what they’re made of, structure themselves accordingly and exploit the hell out of that while shoring up their recessive areas to meet market needs that typically win. 

By the time I developed this framework, I had already done hundreds of these positioning exercises and since then, hundreds more with a perceptible increase in clients Getting to A-Ha! at the end with the added benefit (perhaps even more important) of an aligned leadership team on direction. This is because a good positioning statement is a compelling description of the corporate strategy and this exercise forces alignment on strategy. Once the company’s role and relevance are stated simply, it is easily understood by management and becomes a filter for ongoing business decisions like acquisitions, partnerships, management and personnel.

As a marketing person, I believe understanding a company’s corporate DNA type is critical. It not only articulates a unique role and relevance in the market, it also aligns management teams and provides differentiated descriptors for analysts and press, not to mention new hires. This exercise also helps to inform whether a new category should be created. All in all, positioning is an exercise of strategy that when done correctly cements the foundation of a company and informs all marketing, sales and HR initiatives. It is an act of sacrifice that ensures a long and healthy life.

Get to A-Ha! with your positioning too. 

Andy Joins GrowthPlay's Board of Directors

Our Founder Andy Cunningham has joined GrowthPlay's Board. GrowthPlay is a sales effectiveness firm that partners with its clients to grow revenue. 

"I'm very excited to join the GrowthPlay Board. This company is uniquely positioned to address a massive marketplace need for better and more effective sales. I look forward to assisting Dan Weinfurter and the leadership team in their ongoing merging of brands, sales effectiveness collaborations, and overall growth," says Andy.

GrowthPlay brings together a powerful combination of sales performance offerings that align and enable customer organizations to achieve their revenue goals. The company focuses on consulting, training and technology solutions to elevate sales performance and drive profitable growth. Bringing together sales industry leaders - Force Management, Chally Group, Incite Sales, Akina and Law Leaders Lab – GrowthPlay provides a tailored approach and a breadth of offerings that activate change at both the organizational and individual levels and deliver lasting, measurable results.

You can read the full press release here. 

Restructuring is not just about Organization

Written by Principal Henry Hwong: 

Having worked with and for several organizations that have undergone major restructuring, I’ve seen the same post-restructuring challenge that seems to linger long after the actual change has occurred. There is a certain slowness that the organization continues to feel, even though there was a lot of work to streamline the organization. You would think that fewer people would make for accelerated decision-making and alignment afterwards — that’s the reason for the reorganization, right?

But that’s not the case. Why is that?

A big part of the problem is that during a restructuring, the only focus is on the immediate cost, which usually means how many people can we eliminate and combine into a smaller number of organizations. What often is missed is the fact that the processes remain the same long after the people have gone. When I’m talking about process, I’m speaking of strategic planning, product R&D, procurement, time and expense policies, etc. Of course, processes are important in that they help a company scale, and usually fast growing companies don’t have enough process.

However, there is a right level of process for each size organization. The number and complexity of processes in a company should be aligned with the scale of the organization. When a company restructures for the main purposes of cost, 9 times out of 10, the processes are left with fewer people that struggle to maintain the integrity of the process that was designed for a larger company. Decision-making gets even slower — and before you know it, the remaining managers want to hire back those holes in the organization.

It leads to an ongoing cycle of layoffs, followed by a small number of hires, which leads to another round of layoffs because the efficiency gains aren’t there. It is painfully obvious with companies that have undergone a major reduction in staff in a relatively short period of time (over 30% in less than five years).

So, if you’re going to have to make your organization more lean, you also should look at simplifying your processes.

You can follow Henry on Twitter here

“Smarter” Procurement?

By Principal Henry Hwong

McKinsey recently put out an article to urge more partnering between procurement and marketing when it comes to spend. Having spent many years in procurement technology with many battle scars trying to get into marketing, I have one thing to say:

Uh, what?

Putting aside the oil-and-water aspect of the procurement and marketing relationship, in general, procurement processes work well when things are very well defined. Sourcing, in essence, is about aggregating spend into categories of common items and services to have a better negotiation position with suppliers. That’s what’s being touted in this article.

However, we are still in the early days of digital transformation and marketing technology (martech) adoption. Even marketing automation, the grandaddy of martech, still has less than 50% adoption. The ground is still moving under marketing, from an agency, technology and process perspective. The last thing they need, in essence, is a slow moving, resource intensive process while everything is still evolving quickly.

Yet, the article touts that “continual transformation” is the reason why we need these deep, detailed processes. What? Something doesn’t compute.

It’s nice that they were able to get a 10% reduction in agency spend and 20% reduction in media, but what it doesn’t state the internal resource effort needed in both marketing and procurement to undergo a five month agency review. Think about that. Five months of people itemizing agency spend. Meanwhile, in this uncertain state, I wouldn’t be surprised if marketing campaigns were also impacted during this process.

If procurement wants to work with marketing, epic deep dive processes and only focusing on spend reduction as the result won’t cut it. This article tells me that thought leaders in procurement still don’t get it.

Sounds like procurement needs a dose of agility. Agile Procurement. Now that’s an interesting idea.

You can follow Henry on Twitter here

Founder Andy Cunningham Chats with Lee Caraher about PR and Marketing

Founder Andy Cunningham sits down with Lee Caraher of Double Forte to chat about her career path. Andy shares her journey from working with Steve Jobs to the founding of Cunningham Collective. Furthermore, Andy shares her unique perspective on the transformation of the PR industry and today's critical importance of solid positioning. Listen in to learn about the true art of positioning, best-practices in marketing strategy, and how to scale a career in PR. 

Key snippets: 

  • "When it comes to service businesses, the idea is to give them the best possible experience"
  • "There are only really three types of companies in the world: customer, product, and concept. Respectively, I call them mothers, mechanics, and missionaries"
  • "My favorite question in PR: what does that really mean?"

Inside Our Latest DoubleX Panel, Where No Man Has Gone Before: Women in Space

On March 29, 2016, Cunningham Collective partnered with First Republic Bank and GSVlabs to bring together six female leaders in the space industry for an evening of panel discussion and networking. More than two hundred attendees listened as the panelists shared their inspiring personal stories and perspectives working in the space industry.

Check out the video below to see some of the highlights from the panel and learn more about the DoubleX vision from Cunningham Collective founder Andy Cunningham.