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Welcome to Powell Tate Insights.

April is traditionally a turning point of the year. It’s the end of the first quarter, and the true start of spring—generally a hopeful time of year. Yet, in recent years, April has also been a time when we’ve all faced the initial aftershocks of prolonged periods of challenge.  

It was true in the earliest days of the pandemic—as it is now, as we confront the reality of a grueling, protracted war in Ukraine and a growing humanitarian crisis, while grappling with the pressing work of mitigating the climate crisis and other complex challenges.

In an ever-changing world, leading through action – and communicating quickly, openly, and accurately – builds trust with employees and other critical stakeholders. In this issue, we share recent research that illuminates how people expect business leaders to take action amid the war in Ukraine, as well as long-term geopolitical issues.

In this current moment, the bravery of those standing up for democracy when it is threatened, working to make our world more open and inclusive, and protecting our planet for future generations gives me hope that we will find our way to better days.

-- Paul Massey, President, Powell Tate

Image credit: Markus Spiske

Weber Shandwick’s Geopolitical Strategy & Risk Group, in partnership with KRC Research, recently conducted a public opinion poll in Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and United States, to uncover how the public and employees across six countries expect business leaders to take action amid the war in Ukraine, as well as long-term geopolitical issues.

The survey was conducted among 1,000 adults and employees in each market between March 11-16. Key findings include:
  • 72% of adults among the six countries surveyed (65-80%) believe companies must take a stand when a democracy is threatened. This has implications not only in Ukraine, but beyond.
  • 77% of adults (64-83%) expect businesses to make decisions that protect their home country’s national security.
  • 42% of employees (28-53%) believe their employer has a role to play in ending the Russian invasion in Ukraine.

Language matters. Across all six markets surveyed, there is a consistent perspective that what is happening in Ukraine is a “war” and an “invasion,” and it is without justification.

Beneath the immediate fears of war, respondents are also concerned with its economic disruptions, citing inflation, rising energy costs, shortages, economic decline, recession, and job losses.

Read the Full Survey Here

Image credit: Will Francis

Communications industry leaders Gary Sheffer and Mike Fernandez hosted Michelle Giuda, Executive Vice President of Geopolitical Strategy and Risk on their podcast, “The Crux.” Michelle discussed the war in Ukraine and its impact on trends like "Home Country as Stakeholder" and what hybrid warfare looks like in the 21st century.

The Ukraine war has again redefined the role that multinational companies play in global affairs and highlighted the critical need for executives to think about geopolitics within the lens of risk and reputation.

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Image credit: Chris Liverani

The war in Ukraine has proven out the disruptive realities of economic statecraft in an interconnected world. Shortages of food and fertilizer, coupled with hurdles to land, sea and air shipping routes create new wrinkles in the supply chain, prompting the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to downgrade its global growth estimate for 2022. The second quarter will see these ripple effects manifest throughout the world and challenge business confidence and investor certainty.

In our latest article on Issues Decoded, Jim Meszaros, EVP of Global Public Affairs, discusses how global growth and trade will be impacted by war in Ukraine, looking ahead to Q2 and beyond.

Read More

Image credit: CHUTTERSNAP

As the Ukraine war rightfully captured the world’s attention, experts, activists and industry leaders fear the violence and resulting energy crisis will push back progress on company’s sustainability goals. This comes as the world continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the close link between sustainability and the private sector’s focus on ESG, it is important to continuously evaluate long term goals in a quickly changing landscape.

In our latest article on Purpose Decoded, Kate Olsen, EVP of Social Impact, outlines guidance on how the business community can continue to progress toward its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the midst of destabilizing events.

Read More

Image Credit: Weber Shandwick

Weber Shandwick Chairman Jack Leslie celebrated his final day as chairman in March 2022. He will continue at the firm as a senior advisor, counseling the agency and its clients on corporate reputation, social impact and public policy matters.  

In announcing his retirement, Leslie said, “I am so grateful to have spent my career at the intersection of communications, politics and business, and to have worked with visionaries who’ve made such a difference in the world. I’ve also witnessed a transformation of our business; analog became digital, and an era of broadcasting became an era of engagement. We stayed ahead of the curve, and I’m proud we emerged as a leader in our industry. During all this time, I’ve also been so fortunate to have partners willing to help me pursue my interests in development and humanitarian causes. In the last year, I’ve been particularly active in advocacy around migration and public health. I’m looking forward to giving more time and attention to these passions.”

Read More

Our geopolitical risk research and report, “Home Country as Stakeholder,” was honored as Best Agency Thought Leadership at PRovoke Media’s Innovation SABRE Awards for North America. 

More on PRovoke Media's Innovation SABRE Awards

We’re delighted to welcome Ashley Etienne as senior counselor at Powell Tate. A 15-year veteran communications strategist, Etienne has served as a trusted advisor to Presidents Barack Obama and Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Ashley’s role will focus on providing senior counsel for clients on a range of corporate reputation, public affairs and social impact matters. 

Read the News Here

Last Month, Weber Shandwick announced some exciting leadership changes. Chris Deri joined the agency as chief corporate affairs officer and president, c-suite advisory. Pam Jenkins was promoted from president, global public affairs, to chief public affairs officer. Micho Spring, a veteran of Weber Shandwick, was appointed chief reputation officer.

Thanks for reading and see you next month.
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