PR challenges will carry over into the new year

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[Second in a series of executive outlooks]

Balancing the opportunities created by increased security and communications demands as a result of the battle against terrorism will continue to be a challenge for public relations executives in 2002, said Marc Hausman, president-CEO of Strategic Communications Group Inc., Silver Spring, Md.

“So much of effective marketing communications is timing,” said Hausman, whose 7-year-old firm specializes in marketing services for technology and telecommunications companies. “The world tragically changed in 2001, but you also would be foolish not to recognize a new marketing opportunity created by horrific events. In 2002, there will be even more emphasis in marketing on brand positioning that proactively communicates a company’s value proposition.”

Hausman added that “in today’s market there’s also renewed skepticism for hype and buzzwords. You have to explain your value proposition and your corporate goals, and you have to do it quickly.’’

Strategic’s representation of video-conferencing company V-Span Inc. included an appropriately measured response to the events of Sept. 11.

Two close friends of V-Span Chairman-CEO Ken Hayward were killed in the attacks. Strategic advised the company to speak openly about this and at the same time raised awareness for the V-Span technology. That kind of human touch in business communications will be as important as ever in 2002, Hausman said.

Last year, Strategic was able to differentiate itself by using contacts among investment bankers and clients to make business introductions, Hausman said, adding that he expects more of these types of value-added services to be in vogue in 2002.

``The collapse of venture capital flowing into dot-com companies in January gave us an opportunity to step back and ask tough questions about what effective public relations really is,’’ Hausman said.

--John Evan Frook

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