Corporate boards are increasingly aligning themselves with activist shareholders who are bent on short-term financial gains, putting pressure on CEOs and corporate PR people to better communicate their long-term goals and objectives, Richard Edelman told a corporate governance session in New York Feb. 28.

Edelman at the Feb. 28 event.
(Photos: Sharlene Spingler)

Edelman, who reviewed the findings from his firm’s latest “trust barometer” survey, tells clients to end “transactional” PR in favor of sketching out the “macro” picture.

He gave General Electric chief Jeff Immelt as an example of a CEO who “leads from the front.” GE is Edelman’s client.

Emilio Galli Zugaro, head of group communications at Germany’s Allianz, said system since most executives are white, middle-aged men, management often suffers from a closed-loop feedback

There’s a need to recruit younger executives of both sexes from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, according to Zugaro,

He noted that Allianz found trans-gender people make the best call-center operators “because they can emphasize with other people.”

Zugaro, whose team is equipped with a little red book dealing with crisis situations, told an amusing story about a situation concerning an irate customer who used industrial glue to glue himself to Allianz’ headquarters.

Galli Zugaro

Apparently upset for receiving only half of a settlement for fire damage due to personal negligence, he affixed himself to the building via industrial glue and demanded full payment.

Zugaro received a frantic call for a PR staffer who complained there was nothing in the book dealing with glue.

He spoke at a Conference Board event called “stakeholder expectations and the 21st century board” held at New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies in midtown Manhattan.

James Grunig, professor emeritus at University of Maryland, and Toni Muzi Falconi, senior counselor at Italy’s Methodos and NYU adjunct professor, also addressed the session.

They recently published the peer-reviewed “Global Stakeholder Relationships Governance: An Infrastructure” e-book with Zugaro and Joao Duarte, CCO at Endesa in Madrid.