Kevin Read, Managing Director of Bell Pottinger Business & Brand in London, U.K., will Chair the Corporate Communications Awards and PR Awards Final Judging Committee in The 2013 International Business Awards, the world's premier business awards competition. (Judging for the 2013 IBAs is now underway and we invite you to apply to be a preliminary-round judge. If you qualify, you will be able to judge over the Internet at your convenience.) Here we talked with Kevin about his thoughts on the world of international communications.
As managing director of an international public relations company, what advice do you have for corporations on how PR can solve international communications challenges?
One of the great strengths of PR consultants, especially those involved with international work, is that they can simplify the way that global corporations seek to express themselves. Equally, they are past masters of finding solutions that will illustrate the core points of a business’s products and services.
Many corporations—even significant global brands—need PR consultants to help them distil and deliver crucial messages to their target audience. Highly experienced PR professional are culturally sensitive to the ways in which a message needs to be delivered. They are acutely aware of the modern need to balance the emotional with the rational, and the visual with the verbal.
What item of news recently caught your eye and why?
I have been fascinated by the recent business news about the appointment of a Canadian as the new Governor of the Bank of England, one of the most traditional and conservative positions in the world. The media—with a little help from the Chancellor of the Exchequer—chose to portray Mark Carney both as the best man in the world for the job and as a new broom for a dusty old institution that has maybe felt too comfortable behind its giant stone walls. As Mr. Carney settles in to the job, it will be fascinating to measure any gains from improved communications with the outside world against the risks of market reactions to more regular interaction.
Do you have a favorite app that you use for business purposes?
One of the great pleasures of working on international PR campaigns is not only visiting many fascinating and vibrant cities but also having the opportunity to sample the cuisine of different cultures. The free and highly reliable OpenTable app has on many occasions—and usually at the last minute—provided me with fantastic recommendations and allowed a very smooth and easy booking process; and the ability to flick back from time to time to see where you last ate in a particular city is a great plus for the next time you visit.
If you could choose another profession, what would it be?
Most of my career in public relations has focused on trying to resolve urgent yet complex communications challenges in different fields. I’ve frequently had to spend long hours studying a wide range of different topics in order to get up to speed as an expert in each of these fields. I would therefore very much enjoy the opportunity to work within academia where perhaps I could instead focus on just one issue and spend time looking into it in greater depth. I would like to make a tiny contribution to the world’s total knowledge of one particular subject.
As someone at the top of your profession, what keeps you inspired or makes you hit the ground running in the morning?
There are two things about public relations which I still thoroughly enjoy: the first is coming into the office in the morning and a having a brand new brief land on my desk in an area about which I know very little, then spending the rest of the day trying to unravel the intricacies of something totally new; the second is that I still relish the process of pitching—the ideas, the structure, the performance, and, of course, winning … although it does on rare occasions involve losing.
About Kevin Read:
Kevin is a former political speechwriter and management lecturer. His main focus is on resolving complex, international communications problems, shaping fresh, modern strategies, and implementing integrated solutions that are typically spearheaded by PR.
He has more than 15 years’ senior consultancy experience and specializes in strategic planning and providing senior level business counsel. He has worked extensively for leading global brands (HSBC, British Gas, Unilever), a wide array of industry bodies (nuclear, food, telecommunications, cosmetics, beverages), government departments, NGOs, and professional services firms.
About Bell Pottinger Private:
Bell Pottinger Private is an international, full-service communications business. The company has business experience in 60 countries, advising world leaders in politics and business, supporting communications executives in every industrial and commercial sector, and managing reputations and brands in every communications medium. For more information go to www.bell-pottinger.co.uk.