Talking the Talk

Today’s attention economy is no joke. Key stakeholders from employees to investors are constantly connected, divisive politics play havoc and expectations for getting it “right” are sky-high.

Indeed, a recent Harvard Business Review analysis found CEOs who are good and empathetic communicators are increasingly in demand over those with only operational skills. The researchers found C-suite job descriptions mentioning strength in managing material and financial resources plummeted between 2000 and 2017 in comparison to those mentioning strength in social skills. 

According to a recent Axios story: “sharp, persuasive communications have raced to the C-suite’s inner sanctum as a vital ingredient in attracting and retaining investors, customers and employees.” 

But let’s face it, not everyone in leadership positions arrives with a fully developed ability to persuade those who matter. That’s where smart, tailored, insightful and rigorous media and presentation coaching comes in. 

This exercise is different for every leader, but we see a few techniques helping advance skills: 

  • Thinking through what you’re saying not just from your perspective, but from your audience’s POV. No one wants a marketing pitch, they want to be engaged.
  • Relentlessly winnowing down your complicated message to its absolute barest essentials. Grab attention fast or someone else is guaranteed to steal it. 
  • Carving out the time to really practice and hone skills. It’s no longer just a one-off, check-the-box exercise forced upon reluctant CEOs by their nervous comms teams. Executives increasingly seek media and speaking training with long-term commitments that mirror executive coaching. It’s a trend unlikely to let up.

What’s In A Name?

Everyone wants a good reputation. In the digital world, that requires thoughtful online behavior and content strategy. But content is continuously shifting, and it’s not always in your control. External factors like bad search results or negative news coverage can quickly change the way people perceive you or your brand. 

Enter: Digital Reputation Management

At FGS Global, the DRM team develops and executes data-driven integrated digital programs to enhance the online presence and optimize search results of executives and organizations. Here’s how it works: 

  1. Audit & Strategy: The first step is to take inventory of everything that exists for the client – website, search results, social, media coverage, any profiles – and assess where they stand. This will inform the ongoing strategy. 
  2. Profile Building: A well-optimized digital foundation is core to the program. Social profiles with a complete bio on relevant websites will enable clients to better control their presence.
  3. Content Creation & Distribution – The next step is to build a steady level of activity to influence search results. Negative search results can’t be removed entirely, but with enough patience and effort, owned profiles will outrank them. 
  4. Reporting & Optimization – Finally, like with any healthy digital strategy, it’s important to keep track of the results. FGS Global’s team builds out monthly reports.

Though it may seem slow and steady, this process is a proven way to help clients enhance their online presence and optimize search results.

Interested in managing your business’ digital reputation? Email digital@fgsglobal.com.

How Does It End?

Suffixes can be confusing. Luckily, our LA office recently shared some AP Stylebook tips on how how to bring your prose to a close. 

  • General rules
    • If a word combination is not listed in Webster’s New World College Dictionary, use two words for the verb form; hyphenate any noun or adjective forms.
  • -ward, wards
    • Virtually none of the words ending with this suffix end with an s: backward, forward, toward, downward, upward, onward, outward, inward, southward, skyward, Earthward, heavenward, homeward.
  • -less
    • No hyphen before this suffix: tailless, weightless, waterless
  • -wise
    • No hyphen when it means in the direction of or with regard to. Some examples: clockwise, otherwise, lengthwise, slantwise. 
    • Avoid contrived combinations such as moneywise, religionwise.
    • The word penny-wise is spelled with a hyphen because it is a compound adjective in which wise means smart, not an application of the suffix -wise. The same for street-wise in the street-wise youth (an exception to Webster’s New World College Dictionary).
  • -over
    • Some frequently used words (all are nouns, some also are used as adjectives): carry-over, stopover, holdover, walkover, takeover.
    • Use two words when any of these occurs as a verb.
  • -up 
    • Follow Webster’s New World College Dictionary guidance. Hyphenate if not listed there.
    • Some frequently used words (all are nouns, some also are used as adjectives): breakup, makeup, call-up, mix-up, change-up, mock-up, checkup, pushup, roundup, cover-up, follow-up, holdup, lineup.
    • Use two words when any of these occurs as a verb.

Bill’s Back…Better?

The remains of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda were revived with last week’s Senate passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which is expected to become law.

Here’s the vew from our experts on what the bill means in the near and short term for Americans: 

  • The climate and clean energy provisions in this bill take the type of meaningful action on climate that the market—and Democrats—have been demanding for some time. While the package does not adopt mandatory reduction targets—and the full effect of many of these provisions won’t be felt before the midterms—getting this bill across the finish line will likely check the box on climate action for many voters. 
  • Democrats have directly decreased health care expenses for millions of Americans while upholding the promises of the ACA at a time of rising costs in many sectors. While passage of the bill offers Democrats some much needed momentum, its impact on the midterms is unclear; most of its health provisions won’t go into effect before next year.

The bill’s climate provisions:

  • Adopt a graduated scale for some clean energy tax credits.
  • Adopt, for the first time, a series of technology-neutral, performance-based energy credits, creating flexibility for any technology to claim a credit if certain emissions reduction thresholds are met.
  • Include credits that will spur growth in targeted sectors, including hydrogen, sustainable aviation fuel and energy storage. 
  • Include $60 billion in environmental justice funding.

After years of piecemeal extensions, energy tax policy will remain largely static for the next 10 years (barring Congressional action), allowing project sponsors and technology developers to plan against a longer-term horizon. 

Health care-wise, the bill:

  • Extends Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance premium tax credits through 2025, greatly increasing health insurance affordability for many Americans.
  • Allows Medicare to negotiate lower prices for some high-cost prescription drugs starting in 2026.

These provisions will decrease costs for seniors and help millions of Americans avoid higher health care premiums. Democrats’ attempts to cap the out-of-pocket cost of insulin broadly, however, were blocked.

Businesses Eye U.S./China Tensions

On the heels of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s historic Taiwan visit last week, FGS Global teams in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Washington and Berlin offer their outlook on its ramifications for global tensions and the business environment at large.

  • Our assessment is a U.S.-China military conflict over Taiwan is unlikely in the near future, but the next few years – some say the next 1,000 days – will continue to generate uncertainty. 
  • China announced large-scale military exercises surrounding Taiwan in response to the visit.
  • Despite these actions and associated warnings from each side, the U.S. and China are demonstrating they want to avoid a serious conflict over Taiwan.
  • Nonetheless, the visit heightened the sense of distrust and strategic competition that now frames the U.S.-China relationship. Taiwan will remain an issue that could lead to conflicts between the two countries, both deliberate and accidental. 
  • Pelosi’s visit will reinforce Chinese suspicions of U.S. intentions towards Taiwan. And China’s military activities will strengthen the U.S.’s doubts that China’s intends to unify with Taiwan by “peaceful” means.
  • Looking ahead, tensions over Taiwan will intensify as each side moves to test the other and defend its red lines. Actions by either side—coupled with charged rhetoric—will cast uncertainty over the investment climate in both Taiwan and China.
  • Companies should: 
    • Closely consider the geopolitical environment shaping the business environment
    • Understand the risks to their value chains in both Taiwan and mainland China (and for Chinese companies, their U.S. investments) and 
    • Engage in scenario planning. 

The investment climate for foreign companies will remain officially unchanged, though less positive and welcoming in the immediate future. But the cost of getting it wrong will be exceptionally high. 

Read the full analysis here.

Points on the Board

Until last night, it seemed both Biden and Trump had reasons to celebrate ahead of the midterms and a potential rematch in 2024. But even an FBI raid may not dampen Republicans’ support of the former president.

In welcome news for Democrats:

  • The Senate passed Biden’s long-awaited Inflation Reduction Act, addressing key Democratic priorities like climate change, healthcare costs and some corporate taxes.
  • Amid record inflation, gas prices have fallen for 50 straight days and are approaching an average of $4 per gallon.
  • The July jobs report showed a gain of 528,000 jobs—more than double what economists had been predicting.
  • Despite the U.S. economy logging two consecutive quarters of negative GDP – which typically indicates the economy is in a recession – other important indicators contradict this conclusion. Non-farm payrolls, personal consumption and real personal income have all continued to grow, if at slightly reduced rates, for much of the past six months.  
  • Kansas’ surprising abortion referendum victory indicates widespread political energy around the issue.

On the other hand:  

  • During one of the year’s busiest primary weeks, several Trump allies—particularly in Arizona and Michigan—saw victories, and others outperformed expectations.
  • A number of Republican candidates who deny the outcome of the 2020 presidential election also won their primaries Tuesday night, securing nominations for governor, Congress, and other offices in Arizona, Michigan, and Missouri.
  • Additionally, three of the ten GOP lawmakers who voted to impeach Trump were on the ballot Tuesday. Washington Representative Dan Newhouse (R-WA) eked out a victory, but Rep. Jamie Herrera Butler (R-WA) is facing defeat, while moderate freshman Representative Peter Meijer of Michigan was narrowly ousted in his primary. 
  • In last Tuesday’s only primary where two incumbents faced each other due to redistricting, moderate Rep. Haley Stevens (D) defeated progressive House colleague Rep. Andy Levin (D) in Michigan’s 11th District.

Video Killed the Radio Star

Cat Rakowski joins FGS this week after a long-running broadcast news career including roles at MSNBC and ABC News. So we asked her for some TV advice. 

Q: Some many big stories are dominating TV – recession, war, the Jan. 6 investigation – how can our clients break through and be heard? 

A: Peg your pitch to those front-page stories, if at all possible. If you’ve tried everything and find yourself stuck, I’d recommend acknowledging that when you pitch. But do it in a way that isn’t apologetic. The news will turn eventually — sometimes in an instant! — and you want to be top of mind when that moment arises. 

Q: Ok, if I have a great angle – any tips for how to land the pitch?

A: Customize your pitch as elegantly as you can. See what the host has been tweeting about and personalize the pitch to them. Consider adding a little joke or a little passion, if appropriate. And then, edit it down to a few confident sentences. I don’t think I ever had a cold pitch that won me over in the fourth paragraph. 

One thing I’d be cautious about is pitching to yesterday’s segment. Unless it’s a hot topic, you may have missed your chance.

Q: Is the Zoom interview here to stay? Or do guests need to be back in studio? 

A: At this point, if you’re going to Zoom, do it right. There’s no excuse not to have a ring light and reliable earbuds with a decent mic. Set your camera to the level of your eye and consider a nice fiddle leaf fig in the background.