Author Archive

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March 4 // Food for Tomorrow

Just how much does the average consumer really know about the modern food system? What are the critical issues facing the availability and cost of food, today and tomorrow? What do we need to do to make sure there’s enough safe, nutritious and above all affordable food for the literally billions of people that will join the global village in the next few decades?

Initial results from a survey of attitudes toward food-related issues indicate there’s much to be learned on this vital – yet largely invisible — important public policy challenge. Consensus on what issues are most important is elusive. Agreement on matters of food safety, food production, preservation of natural resources remains rare, even among segments of the population that might be expected to have similar views. Basic understanding of the current policies governing production of food and feed, environmental protection and international trade seems paper thin. The complex mix of policies shaping food production food manufacturing and distribution, food safety, food trade seem to defy understanding, yet alone mastery. So how do we begin to tackle such a challenge?

To take part in this important on-going research effort, contact me at I’ll send you a short (20-question) form of the survey that explores your attitudes on a range of timely food-related issues. It’s not a test, with right or wrong answers. It won’t put you into a data base of any kind, and no salesman will call. It’s simply a way to gauge public attitudes toward a range of matters that shape how much food we have, what kind we have and who has access to it. Add your voice, and help identify the food issues our society needs to address to make sure we doing today what we need to build a sustainable food system capable of feeding an increasingly hungry world.

Top Page Divider #267

February 4 // What’s in a name?

A friend told me about a ferocious debate within his company over renaming the company. Everyone seemed to agree that the old name no longer seemed to connect with the market quote the way it did 30 years ago, and the entire management team was solidly behind the idea of changing or modifying it, if only to add that to the long list of initiatives underway to give the company a bit more marketing oomph.

But that’s where agreement ended. Most of the management team couldn’t understand why the marketing director opposed the idea of launching a contest among employees to find a new magic-bullet name.

After all, who better understands our customers, our competitors and our industry? Why should we spend a substantial chunk of money to hire somebody to do what we can do ourselves?

Maybe it’s because you’re not as expert in naming as you think. There is an art and science to naming. It’s developed over time, for some very good reasons.

First and foremost, being great at your business doesn’t necessarily mean you will be good at naming. Do you really want to risk one of your most valuable organizational assets – your name, your basic identity, your brand – to what amounts to a contest that generates what people like, not what the organization needs? Think about the problems you had with your family selecting that first baby’s name. Now multiply that by hundreds, or thousands.

Companies and other organizations turn to naming specialists to take as much subjectivity out of the process as possible. It focuses on a structured process that defines the criteria through which name candidates will be generated and a finalist selected… that aligns those criteria with strategic goals and operation activities… that adds a special creative perspective most often lacking within the typical company or organization… that keeps your best people focused using their real expertise on what’s most important – performance of their jobs.

Sometimes an internally driven naming process might be an acceptable approach – maybe even the right approach. But good brand managers always ask if the company or organization can really pull it off, or if it might be better to call is a specialist to carry out such an important brand-management task. Naming specialists live this process, know the pitfalls and dangers in the process, understand all the legal needs, know how to carry out the right kind of testing and evaluation – and a lot more about how to get the job done and done right.

Contact me at to talk about the naming process, and its important role in managing your identity and brand the right way.

Top Page Divider #233

January 21 // MacMillan Calls for Better Food Policies

MacMillan Calls for Better Food Policies

Cargill Chairman Emeritus Whitney MacMillan recently warned that misguided policies and lack of understanding are contributing to escalating food prices and risk seriously compromising future global food security.

In remarks to the Blake School alumni in Minneapolis, MacMillan cited current ethanol policy as just one example of how well-intentioned but poorly thought-through policies can contribute to run-ups in food prices and distortions in the market economics needed to assure the availability of food needed by a rapidly escalating global population.

Four in ten bushels of corn now produced in the United States now go to production of ethanol, he noted. Such massive diversion of a cornerstone commodity from food to fuel use isn’t the sole factor behind recent run-ups in commodity prices, he acknowledged, but its effects cannot be ignored.

“Bad ag policy is no cure for bad energy policy,” he said.

MacMillan warned that the task of feeding a global population that will increase to over 10 billion by 2050 will require adoption of policies that allow markets to function as freely as possible and trade to expand to exploit comparative advantage wherever it exists.

Feeding the bigger, hungrier world is possible, he said, if nations recognize and embrace the critical role of improved plant genetics and other improving agricultural technologies, especially those related to better crop production and better crop-production management. Adoption of such enlightened policies not only will help expand food production to meet anticipated demand growth but also will do more to protect and sustain the earth’s natural resources, he said.

Top Page Divider #237

December 21 // Launching New Product with Tight Budget Demands

Launching New Product with Tight Budget Demands Smart Marketing Decisions

The weak global economy has businesses scrambling to find new, cost-conscious approaches to new product launches. But limited marketing budgets don’t necessarily mean limited launch success.

That’s the conclusion reached by sales professionals meeting in Las Vegas recently to plan release of the New Met Lab One™, a innovative new entry into the demanding field of metrology and gas flow calibration. The ML One™, developed by Bios International of Butler, N.J., builds on existing technology to deliver superior gas flow calibration across a much wider spectrum of uses.

It sounds less than exciting to the layperson. But to the semiconductor, pharmaceutical, energy and other fields dependent upon high-precision process controls, such innovations can mean millions and millions of dollars to the bottom line.

“The ML One™ clearly is a breakthrough product,” said Harvey Padden, CEO of Bios. “But it’s very tough sell in an economy like this, and we can’t justify an expensive traditional launch campaign. We had to focus our marketing less on a shotgun approach to getting the word out than a rifle-shot strategy of reaching exactly the right target customers with exactly the right message.”

The product’s marketing plan, developed in conjunction with WestWord Communications, focused on aggressive use of video and other interactive techniques designed to provide a hands-on product experience involving the Bios sales force and individual customers.

“Initial results have been great,” Padden said. “Allowing people to see and touch the product give us a chance to explain the value and payback far more effectively than any ad or brochure. When you’re offering a product this sophisticated and this valuable, it’s the personal touch that makes all the difference.”

See the marketing video produced by WestWord Communications and WalkerTek Interactive Marketing of Fairfield, N.J., at

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November 21 // Social Media Interest Continues to Grow

Social Media Interest Continues to Grow

Use of social media to reach diverse audiences quickly and effectively remains one of the major areas of interest among an expanding set of communication professionals.

Recent project work completed by WestWord Communications shows the general issue of social media is among the top three issues cited by clients as a “top priority” for 2012. Clients expressed interest in several key aspects of the social media phenomenon, including audience segmentation, consolidation or emergence of preferred social media channels and standardization of the metrics used to measure the effectiveness of social media communications.

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Clear communication is a first step in building a united, focused organization.

When one of the world’s top banking and financial institutions wanted to introduce a new organizational structure and strategy for one of its key regions, Garland helped craft the stage-setting remarks for the new regional VP at his first meeting with employees. Effective leadership begins with the ability to explain organizational goals and objectives – and the stake every employee has in them – with clarity and relevance to everyone involved.

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August 9 // Focus on Personal Branding

Palm Beach seminar focuses on personal branding

More than a dozen executive search professionals from across the United States successfully completed an advanced course in personal brand management, which I conducted recently on behalf of Canaan Ridge, The Center for Professional Development, in West Palm Beach, Florida.

The multi-day program helped individual participants to define their own individual brand as a key competitive advantage — and source of higher fees and better clients. The program also enabled each professional to develop a personal brand development program tailored exclusively for their situation and needs.

This and other branding and identity courses I have developed are offered through Canaan Ridge at locations throughout North America and Europe. Future programs are scheduled for Chicago in late September, followed by Frankfurt, Germany. Visit for additional details.

Copies of my opening remarks from the Palm Beach session can be seen here.

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August 4 // MacMillan Optimistic on Food Availability, Environmental Sustainability

MacMillan Optimistic on Food Availability, Environmental Sustainability

We can continue to provide ample, nutritious and affordable food for a dramatically growing world population and still sustain our natural resources, Cargill Chairman Emeritus Whitney MacMillan told the Woods Hole Research Center recently.

In a speech to the prestigious Boston-area research group, MacMillan noted that advances in plant genetics and continuing improvement in better farming practices can spark a second wave of green revolution globally – helping provide food for a world population projected to possibly double within the next half-century.

Turning potential into actuality, however, will depend upon making sound public policy choices on farm, trade and environmental issues, he added. Helping guide intelligent decision-making is the role of respected groups such as Woods Hole, he said, who must step up efforts to assure their work is interpreted and applied objectively in an increasingly polarized debate.

MacMillan argued that sound public policy, backed by the superior ability of the private sector to generate wealth, will hold the key to preserving our planet and the people who live on it.

Contact me at for more details on the speech.

Top Page Divider #192

July 9 // The Perils and Pitfalls of Executive Speechmaking

The Perils and Pitfalls of Executive Speechmaking

What’s more important in an effective speech – content or presentation? A healthy mix of both, obviously. So how do communicators charged with helping produce effective speeches find the right balance? And how does the speechwriter – and presenter – avoid falling into the writing-by-committee trap that homogenizes content into meaningless much and fosters rampant inconsistencies in presentation?

The key, it seems, if finding the “voice” of the presenter – the tone, manner and verbal communication style that allows the presenter to speak in a relaxed, personal manner about the subject at hand. Confidence begets credibility. Facts, when presented credibly, become understanding.

The single most common complaint heard by an executive speechwriter: “Don’t tell me what to say. Help me say what I think.” The highest praise a speechwriter can gain is the simple comment: “This sounds just like me.”

For an indication of just how frustrating speechwriting can be when these simple precepts are ignored, take a look at “The Gettysburg Experience.”

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June 22 // It’s Nice to Be Noticed

It’s Nice to Be Noticed

Anyone who foolishly might have questioned the sophistication and judgment of the North Carolina Association of Government Information Officers obviously had that those doubts purged when the group bestowed three awards on the brand system recently developed for the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts (NCAOC).

First-place prizes in the 2009 Excellence in Communications Award went to the logo and the brand guidelines – and a second-place prize for the NCAOC annual report using the new system. This project represents collaboration with Helen Keyes and Donna Hadfield of Blue Ink Design in New York City – and a particularly satisfying example of how the written word and visual communication can be combined to establish a powerful brand identity.

A case study on the project is available in the archives. Or, contact me directly for more information at