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Clarke Mulder Purdie on PR, media and other random topics

Posts Tagged ‘G20’

A new world order?

Posted by Chris Clarke on April 3, 2009

A view from the front row at the Obama and Brown G20 briefings

Spending 15 hours in ExCel isn’t something I would wish on anyone.  However, spending 15 hours in ExCel at the London Summit of the G20 yesterday was an incredible experience.

Agree with the communiqué or not, the Summit was historic. Historic because of the sheer size of measures announced. Historic because of the extent of co-operation across countries with divergent agendas. Historic because there was an unmistakable sense that yesterday really was a day that would be remembered – and judged – by history.

Despite the columns of copy, hours of footage, number of tweets dedicated to the event, its success cannot be judged until a few months down the line. It may come to be seen as the world’s costliest mistake, or the day the world identified and acted upon the realities posed by a new world order.

Sitting in the front row at the Brown and Obama briefings, it became clear to me that we are all, like it or not, operating in a new era. And, whilst rhetoric was not absent from either briefing, there was a clear sense that we are genuinely entering a changed environment. One in which the role of government, through regulation and intervention, is going to be more dominant, and one where businesses and their leaders are to be questioned more, scrutinised more and, perhaps, restrained more.

The implications for all businesses – global or UK – will emerge over the coming weeks.  But, what is certain is that, in this new era, government intervention will be commonplace, scrutiny over the actions of corporations more intense than ever; and the shifts of power between the East and the West, developed and developing, will become current and dominant trends – not just speculations.

chris_gordonThe new challenge for communicators

All of this has huge implications for communicators. It makes the stakeholder map more complex as the concept of ‘shareholder value’ becomes blurred. It calls into question the role that business plays in society, as politicians start to believe that it is them who can (and must) ‘manage globalisation’.

It calls for the reassessment of not just commercial strategies, but for the re-evaluation of communications strategies, as well.  How businesses communicate and interact with employees, customers and the wider network of stakeholders, is about to undergo a fundamental transformation.

Change may have been the slogan of the successful Obama campaign. But, for communicators, change must become a guiding principle as we help businesses navigate this new era, connect with new and more demanding audiences, and establish authentic and credible reputations that work in the interests of shareholders – and not against them.

All of us in communications should relish the challenge that this new world presents. In many ways, it is us who are best placed to help business adapt and respond to this new reality.


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Capitalism after the downturn: a shifting ideology

Posted by alicocksworth on April 2, 2009

The world leaders arrived at the G20 summit with several Herculean tasks in front of them: to somehow reboot a devastated financial system, to agree reforms that would safeguard the global economy in the future, and to restore public confidence in a discredited system that has caused brutal damage to individual lives – and may continue to do so for a long time to come as the recession intensifies.

Whether the summit has succeeded in mapping a path out of this global recession remains to be seen, but whatever the eventual outcome, it has afforded an insight into the future of capitalism and the imminent realignment of world order.

virginTowards a progressive agenda

As jobs are lost and houses repossessed, public frustration continues to grow. This dissatisfaction indicates a fundamental change in public sentiment that Barack Obama identified in his inaugural address, when he claimed that “what the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them”. This change has enabled the US President to put forward an unapologetically progressive agenda explicitly designed to address the deeper failings of capitalism, namely, rising income inequality and corporate misconduct.

The Obama agenda is emblematic of an ideological shift towards what Lord Layard recently identified as ‘a less selfish capitalism’. In a Financial Times article he called for ‘a more humane brand of capitalism, based not only on better regulation but on better values’. The financial crisis has acted as a reality check, demanding a reassessment of what constitutes ‘progress’. As Lord Layard pointed out, the term was defined by the Anglo-Saxon Enlightenment as the reduction of misery and the increase of happiness. Wealth creation is no longer synonymous with progress.

Capitalism: ‘a different animal’

The developing countries of the world will demand that capitalism survive this crisis – China, India, Brazil will not forfeit the benefits it can confer – but it will have undergone significant transformation. I is unlikely that wealth creation will be accepted as an end in itself. Brazil’s President Lula da Silva is well attuned to this shift: “Capitalism will be a different animal once the turbulence is over”, he told TIME in a recent interview. “Developing countries will be responsible for a major percentage of world economic growth.”

There is a growing sense that Brazil is outperforming the other emerging giants: poverty may be falling in India and China but inequality is only falling in Brazil. This expansion of social mobility is attributable to what Lula refers to as ‘the financial strategy of the future’. In simplest terms, this strategy is a post-ideological approach that places as much emphasis on wealth redistribution as on wealth creation.

Brazil’s problems are still weighty and numerous – political corruption is endemic, the education system barely functions, and absolute poverty is still rife – but Lula’s take on capitalism may constitute a route out of a classic dilemma facing developing countries: how to expand an under-achieving economy and simultaneously reduce social inequality. It is no wonder he has an approval rating of 80 percent.

The Asian influence

Traditional capitalist strongholds like the US and western Europe will be permanently scarred by this recession, and it is likely that the greatest proponents of capitalism in the future will be in Asia. It is reductive to discuss an ‘Asian approach’ to capitalism, but there is a tangible gap in perspectives between the West and the East. The divergence is only likely to increase as the global recession deepens. Widespread scepticism about the American model of deregulation has always existed in Asia and, as Kishore Mahbubani notes as part of the Financial Times’ Future of Capitalism series, Asian capitalists will greet any economic advice now emanating from the West with even greater cynicism. gun

The world order will shift as the global economy recovers and the brand of capitalism that emerges will be reflective of this. It will be characterised by caution and dominated by the strong regulation and expectation of government supervision that pervade Asian approaches to capitalism.

Finding a new way

It is tempting to see this imminent remodelling of capitalism as a great challenge facing the corporate world, but it could also constitute an unprecedented opportunity. In throwing out the old ways, businesses will be able to shape the new.

As President Obama’s esteemed chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel put it: “Rule one: never allow a crisis to go to waste.”

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Will history be made at tomorrow’s G20 Summit?

Posted by Chris Clarke on April 1, 2009

Tomorrow’s gathering of world leaders at the G20 summit has the potential to make history.  It could be seen as the day that the Anglo-Saxon model prevailed despite being on a life support machine or the day which speeded up the shift of economic and political power from the West to the East. 

However, there is, as is always the case at such international summits, a third alternative.  And that is that each delegation will revert to form and retreat to a comfortable and tested position, the French and Germans seem to be doing quite well on this front at the moment. 

It is highly unlikely that there will be such profound disagreement to prevent some agreed position being developed.  However, what is likely – and arguably more damaging in the long term – will be yet another bland and fudged communiqué with little lasting impact. 

With each country delegation only having the opportunity to speak for 15 minutes tomorrow (most of which will have been carefully scripted in advance) what difference can a day make? 

Let’s hope the diplomatic effort, not to mention the money, that has been invested beforehand pays off. 

Without doubt, we are entering a new age which will affect how businesses do business, how consumers consume and how governments govern.  Tomorrow will be the test of whether world leaders are able to pathfind effectively in to this new age and discard outdated thinking.

Tomorrow is the opportunity for world leaders to demonstrate they are able to cast aside narrow self-interest to restabilie the global economy – perhaps for the first time.

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