Year One Update

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It's been a year since we launched KTStewart.  And what a year.  Thanks to the support of more than a dozen excellent clients we're off to a very strong start.  Over the past 12 months, we've done interesting, challenging and significant work in a variety of areas, including:

Corporate Branding and Reputation

  • Created a new brand identity and message framework along with a new graphic look and conducted original visitor research for the Richard Nixon Foundation, Library and Museum, one of the 13 Presidential Libraries.  We continue to provide ongoing communications strategy and planning for the opening of the new museum.
  • Created a new brand identity and message framework for a leading drug delivery system company
  • Worked with the athletic department of a leading educational institution to develop a message framework for an upcoming fundraising initiative
  • Counseled a popular motivational speaker in better defining his brand and in evaluating a potential partnership with a prominent non-profit
  • Developed an investor and partner presentation for a startup creating a more interactive sports fan experience

Crisis and Issues Management

  • Analyzed and benchmarked a leading financial services company's crisis plan and protocol, including best practices benchmarking
  • Providing ongoing counsel to an apparel manufacturer on a series of supply chain and business operations issues
  • Counseled a restaurant chain that found itself under attack on social media
  • Created editorial content for a nutritional supplement company as part of an overall campaign to clarify its business model and communicate its true value
  • Counseled a company on a highly sensitive issue involving two of their former employees
  • Counseled a financial services company on a change in its CEO

Corporate Communications Function and Public Relations Agency Management

  • Worked with a major international public relations firm to evaluate the performance of one of its major offices and with another on a potential restructuring
  • Worked with a leading utility on the redefinition and reorganization of its communications function, including organization structure benchmarking with best-practice companies

Consumer Marketing

  • Worked with privately held maker of "products for living well" in the marketing of one of its dental health products

Elsewhere in Corporate Communications

It's also been quite a year for a number of large companies and institutions that have displayed a lack of leadership, corporate character, a clear vision of who they are and the values that drive their corporate behavior.  On top of that is a confounding response to the issues impacting their businesses, all resulting in damaged corporate reputations and brands.

It's been a particularly tough year for automotive, food and healthcare companies.  From the fuel economy deception at Volkswagen to the debacle at United Airlines that forced the resignation of its CEO to the drug prices and arrogance of Turning Pharmaceuticals' Martin Shkreli to the mishandling of the food crisis at Chipotle, all demonstrate what happens when organizations have flawed leadership and are without of a strong, consistent, compelling corporate culture.  All of this places an increased responsibility on the communications team to step up and lead on defining and driving corporate values and a distinctive culture throughout their organizations.

The New Open Letter to the Editor

In the last year three companies have taken an aggressive and potentially risky approach to articles written about them by major media outlets.  First, Alibaba took on Barron's, Amazon challenged the New York Times and more recently Theranos went toe-to-toe with the Wall Street Journal.  In response to stories the companies believed were inaccurate, unbalanced and unfair, they took their side of the story directly to consumers using owned media channels with some degree of success.  Are we seeing the end of the old adage of not picking a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel?  Time will tell.

You Can't Make this Stuff Up

And finally in the category of life is stranger than fiction, a public relations firm actually hired Congressman Anthony Weiner as a strategic advisor.  He later resigned.  Good decision.  Martha Stewart offered communications and legal advice to Jessica Alba and The Honest Company.  Seriously?  Homebase, Cheerio's and Hamburger Helper, of all companies, fumbled their Prince tributes.  Chevy didn't.  It's a fine line between tribute and crass exploitation.  And in one of the strangest coincidences of the last year, Justine Sacco of AIDS and Africa tweeting fame ended up as the PR person for FanDuel.  Hope she stays off social media.

Thanks again to our inaugural clients who demonstrated faith in our ability to help them build, enhance and protect their corporate brands and reputation.  We're just getting started.

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