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Advanced Energy, the Next Big Thing

Posted in Community Leadership, Executive Insights

Ten years ago we focused on strengthening Kansas City’s offering as a national and global transportation hub.  That’s when KC Smartport was born.

Five years ago we focused our efforts on biotechnology and our heritage as an agricultural leader.  That’s when the KC Animal Health Corridor was born.

And just last week, after six months of intensive study and analysis, KCADC launched our KC Advanced Energy initiative.

For a moment, don’t focus on the important environmental, political, social, or even moral drivers for America to develop new energy solutions…just think with your wallet.

There will be billions of dollars of new investment in sustainable, renewable energy sources, along with the engineering, smart grid development and related industries. All of these new efforts need to have a supportive “home.” I have confidence Kansas City will be successful in attracting new Advanced Energy businesses to our region to capitalize on what promises to be an enormous growth industry. We’ve done this twice before; we’ll do it again.

Morningstar Communications is proud to serve as an extension of the great team at KCADC. Kudos to our friends at Midwest Research Institute, KCP&L and dozens of other civic leaders who have worked closely together to help launch this program.

Kansas City will leverage our considerable expertise in power engineering, our natural, location advantages to attract investments in wind, our proximity and familiarity with biofuels, while developing our emerging assets with Kokam America and Smith Electric Vehicles to become leaders in advanced battery technologies and vehicle assembly.

Our future looks brighter, with a brand new focus on this burgeoning industry.

Join us. If you are a KCADC investor and you would like to be involved in this initiative, please contact Tim Cowden at KCADC.

Onward and upward.

KC Advanced Energy Partner

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Comments Off Posted on by Eric Morgenstern

The Golden Rule – has it been forgotten?

Posted in Executive Insights

The Golden Rule – has it been forgotten?

Treat others as you want to be treated.  It is a simple concept.  One that seems to have been forgotten.  Just read the headlines in any newspaper, magazine, blog, or other media source and you will understand.  Here is a brief overview and a friendly reminder:

Treating people with respect makes your world a nicer place to live in, whether it’s at home, at work, or out in the world. Here are a few ideas:

• Don’t insult people or make fun of them.
• Listen to others when they speak.
• Value other people’s opinions.
• Be considerate of people’s likes and dislikes.
• Don’t mock or tease people.
• Don’t talk about people behind their backs.
• Be sensitive to other people’s feelings.
• Don’t pressure someone to do something he or she doesn’t want to do.

We live in a diverse nation made up of many different cultures, languages, races, and backgrounds. That kind of variety can make all our lives a lot more fun and interesting, but only if we get along with each other. In addition to the list above, here are some ways we can respect people who are different from us.

• Try to learn something from the other person.
• Never stereotype people.
• Show interest and appreciation for other people’s cultures and backgrounds.
• Don’t go along with prejudices and racist attitudes.

Don’t forget you also need to respect yourself.

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Comments Off Posted on by Andy Woodward

Insights on the Obama Administration from Neil Dhillon

Posted in Community Leadership, Executive Insights, Illumination Sessions

It’s great to be at an agency where we can call on global resources to help provide valuable advice and counsel to our clients.  That’s exactly the role Neil Dhillon, managing director of our MS&L Washington D.C. office, played when we brought him in for an Illumination session with clients and friends last week.

Neil walks in all the Capitol Hill circles (he was telling us the story of being at the recent joint session of Congress when Congressman Joe Wilson hurled his famous “You lie!” shout at President Obama) and spent many years working in politics, including as a deputy assistant secretary in the Bill Clinton administration.

One area of interest to our guests was Neil’s take on the current administration and how the changes taking place on Capital Hill will affect businesses. Neil talked about the ambitious reform agenda President Obama has taken on in his first year. All new presidents come in with a full plate but, no surprise with what’s happened in the world over the past year, this one is particularly busy.

In addition to the obvious topical area, healthcare reform, Neil talked about the other two major areas of government reforms coming our way – energy and financial services.  For Neil, a financial services overhaul is the most important thing this administration will do for the country and our economy. However, out of these three key areas of focus, he believes healthcare may be the first to pass.

Companies who play in these areas will undoubtedly see new regulations that impact how they do business and, by extension, we all will be impacted as we do business with those firms or are served by them.

Neil’s advice:  Get involved in national policy and start by listening. Use every resource at your disposal to keep an ear to the ground on all of these potential new reforms so that you can be ready to react appropriately when change comes. Even better, influence change before legislation is past. Yesterday, my colleague Sheri Johnson posted on Neil’s suggested ways to get involved. We’ll be talking more about these topics next week, so keep coming back to Luminary blog for more great insights from our Illumination session.

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Comments Off Posted on by Matt Tidwell

Making Your Voice Heard

Posted in Executive Insights, Illumination Sessions, Integrated Marketing (IMC)

Neil Dhillon, managing director of our MS&L Washington D.C. office brought up an interesting perspective when he convened with executives here in Kansas City. Every company has legislative issues, they just may not know it yet.

This fall promises to be a very busy one on Capital Hill, with several key priorities making their way through Congress. From health care and financial services reform to distributing stimulus funds before the upcoming deadline, virtually every industry will feel the impact and many will find new opportunities.

If your organization seeks to influence change, there are many ways to do it. From meeting with local representatives to lobbying on the hill, to simply issuing media statements on policy to share your view, there are many ways to make your voice heard. We’ll go into more on these topics in our upcoming posts, so stay tuned. And, we hope you’ll share your stories about how you’ve been able to make change happen.

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Comments Off Posted on by Sheri Johnson

It is About the Numbers

Posted in Executive Insights, Integrated Marketing (IMC), Media Relations

For me, as COO of Morningstar Communications, it always starts with the numbers, and then you add the creativity and analysis. A well-designed strategic communications program must drive business performance.

Recently The Measurement Working Group of the Public Relations Society of America presented key ways to document the impact of your public relations activities.

Traditionally public relations has been measured using terms such as “buzz” and “clips.” I believe a much better approach is to link public relations effectiveness to specific business objectives.

These goals should be relevant, realistic, specific, measurable and timely.

Effective strategic integrated communications can (and should):

  • Increase customer loyalty, renewals or satisfaction
  • Increase revenue, sales or profit
  • Change employee behavior
  • Minimize negative impact of a crisis
  • Increase likelihood for a customer to purchase your brand
  • Ease market entry
  • Improve talent acquisition or retention
  • Reduce legal expenses
  • Impact voter behavior
  • Change public policy
  • Generate a premium on your stock price
  • Increase donations or memberships

Before beginning a strategic communications initiative it’s important to establish effective benchmarks in order to measure changes in behavior or attitude.

The best benchmarks should be tied to whoever and whatever keeps your C-suite up at night.

And I can assure you, there are very few C-suite executives who wake up in the middle of the night worried about how many clips their company has been getting.

It is about the numbers.

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Comments Off Posted on by Shanny Morgenstern

Trust and Social Media

Posted in Executive Insights, Social Media

Now that social media is here to stay and firmly entrenched as a solid communications channel for p.r. practitioners, the obvious ongoing challenge becomes using these tools to add value for our organizations and clients.

We’ve known forever the power of peer-to-peer recommendation — the all-powerful “someone like me” when people are asked from which source of information they trust the most. The researchers at Edelman dig deeper into the trust question through their annual “Trust Barometer.” Notable findings from the barometer’s 2009 findings earlier this year included:

•    No surprise, trust in business is at an all-time low, even worse than post-Enron years.
•    Corporate Web sites and company news releases rank among the least trusted information sources.
•    77% of consumers say they refuse to buy products/services from a company they distrust.
•    Most people need to hear or see information about a company three to five times before they believe it.
•    “Independent experts” were cited as among the most trusted sources about a company.
•    Digital media sources were found to be “as credible as traditional media, and often more credible than a company’s own communications.”

Are there implications in these findings for social media platforms? You bet. For a company to be able to stimulate conversation amongst customers and prospects by facilitating a social network discussion enhances its chances to get that coveted peer recommendation. Efforts to court credible experts who post in the blogosphere can lead to getting that crucial independent expert endorsement. The “three to five times” message repetition guideline mandates the need for social media and other multiple channels beyond just traditional media.

So what’s the new frontier for Social Media (SM)?  Recent research published by Harvard Business School professor Mikolaj Jan Pisorski found that online social networks “are most useful when they address real failures in the operation of offline networks.”  In other words, dating and relationship online networks have been phenomenally successful because they allow for people to sample possible relationship prospects from afar with a degree of emotional safety and anonymity built-in.  LinkedIn allows everyone to be a “passive job candidate” because their professional qualifications and accomplishments are always available to any recruiter who might have that next great job opening.

The key take-away for strategists: Pisorski urges us to think about new ways that social networking could add value by serving an already unmet need in the offline world.

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Comments Off Posted on by Matt Tidwell

llumination Session with Neil Dhillon

Posted in Executive Insights, Illumination Sessions

With President Obama well into his first year in office, executives in Kansas City and around the Midwest are contemplating how his policies will affect the way they do business. This morning, Morningstar Communications held its last Illumination session of 2009, featuring our Public Affairs Practice Director Neil Dhillon. Neil traveled to Kansas City from our Washington, D.C. office to help forecast the answers.

Neil Dhillon
Neil has 25 years of experience providing strategic communications and public affairs counsel in Washington, D.C. As managing director of our MS&L D.C. office, Neil plays an essential role as a senior crisis communications counselor on legislative and regulatory issues. He also works closely with Congress and The White House to assist on policy issues affecting our clients’ businesses and industries. He has previously served as national director of public affairs for several other major public relations firms; served as deputy assistant secretary of government affairs for President William Jefferson Clinton at the U.S. Department of Transportation; and was chief of staff to Congressman Bob Matsui (D-California), where he managed his tax, trade, and health care agenda in the powerful House Ways & Means Committee.

In the upcoming days, be sure to check back here at the Luminary Blog to gain Neil’s valuable insights into the business implications of the political landscape during the next few years.

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Comments Off Posted on by Tricia McKim

2009 Leadership Exchange to Denver

Posted in Community Leadership, Executive Insights

There’s nothing quite like a change of venue and perspective from another community to better assess Kansas City and our challenges and opportunities.  I was privileged to participate in The Chamber’s 2009 Leadership Exchange last weekend along with 110 other civic leaders.  The participants included the highest levels of leadership in business, government, the arts and education.

2009 Leadership Exchange

We learned how Denver’s regionalism continues to thrive as they’ve opened numerous sports facilities, rail and mass transit, cultural amenities and many other successful redevelopment projects.  There are many KC-Denver connections, including the amazing NREL (national renewable energy laboratories) facility (managed by KC-based MRI) developing the cutting-edge technologies we’ll need in the generations to come.  We all left beaming with pride, along with anticipation of how KC is developing our own advanced energy sector.

Denver utilizes sales taxes to fund many of these improvements.  The plans are well thought-out, communicated clearly, and approved by the majority of the residents.

That approach seems like one of the best ways to keep pushing forward.  In our community, we have a wide variety of other financing tools and incentives.   The combination will serve us well.

I hope our residents will continue to embrace regionalism, building on our foundation of the bi-state tax in the late 90’s to save Union Station, the KC150 Celebration in 2000, and the last five years of the OneKC regional positioning campaign led by KCADC.

As we return to Kansas City and leave the mountains behind, we feel empowered and inspired to continue to build and strengthen our Kansas City region.

Onward and upward.

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Comments Off Posted on by Eric Morgenstern

What’s the Right Way to Network?

Posted in Executive Insights

Several years ago, I attended a Central Exchange conference for career women that included a session on networking. The speaker drove home the fact women network in a completely different way than men. I’m generalizing here, but we tend to work up to the business part of the conversation instead of starting with business first, the way men frequently do.  Because while women are relationship-oriented and more likely to focus on consensus building, men cut to the chase, so to speak.  The seminar leader encouraged women to start networking like men.

Several years ago, I attended a Central Exchange conference for career women that included a session on networking. The speaker drove home the fact women network in a completely different way than men. I’m generalizing here, but we tend to work up to the business part of the conversation instead of starting with business first, the way men frequently do.  Because while women are relationship-oriented and more likely to focus on consensus building, men cut to the chase, so to speak.  The seminar leader encouraged women to start networking like men.

That’s why yesterday’s all-women golf tournament hosted by The Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City proved such a refreshing networking experience. It was golf and networking—women’s style. Indeed women-only networking groups and online social networks proliferate.  But a recent Harvard Business School study even found differences in the way women and men use social networks.

What I found somewhat lacking over the years are written resources (you know, books and offline articles) to help women with networking.  This could be an indicator of our inclination toward relationship building.  We’d rather learn about networking in person. What do you think? Should women network like men, or use our own style to advance in business?
Sheri Golfing

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Comments Off Posted on by Sheri Johnson

Tips on Engaging in Social Media

Posted in Admin, Social Media

Lately, we’ve had several clients and business contacts ask about social media and how to get involved. We know that social media—whether it is Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or blogs—provides a return for business-to-consumer companies, and it’s application in the business-to-business world is also proving valuable for reaching customers, prospects and other key stakeholders.

Here’s a general guideline to keep in mind when evaluating how to engage:
1. Observe. Are you monitoring the social media space? Do you know what is being said about your company, your competitors and your industry? Listen to the conversations that are going on. This is your first step.
2. Participate. Join the conversation in some way. Comment on a blog, sign up for Twitter and follow experts in your industry, link with appropriate business contacts. Gain an understanding for each medium and how to interact in the space.
3. Create. Once you have a good feel for the different social media tools and mediums, start creating your own content, where appropriate. If your target audience is on Facebook, create a Facebook fan page and start engaging customers. If Twitter provides a better avenue for connecting and interacting with your audience, start a Twitter account and begin tweeting relevant content. That’s right, like any other communication, your content has to be relevant and provide value to your audience for social media to work.
4. Integrate. It’s essential to glue your social media initiatives and other marketing and communications activities together. When you post a blog entry, tweet about it and update your Facebook status, linking back to the blog post. After you give a presentation, upload the slides to SlideShare, and include a link to the deck in the next email blast your company distributes. You get the idea.

We’re seeing that social media has moved past the stage of consideration. Now, many – including our own clients – are ready to jump on board, asking, “What are people saying about us and how should we engage?”

For details on how we can answer these questions for you, read more about our social media expertise.

Comments Off Posted on by admin
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