NCR's Memo to the President
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NCR's Memo to the President

In February of 2000, Mr. Lars Nyberg, chairman and chief executive officer of NCR Corporation, was invited to contribute to a book sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers entitled Memos to the President.

Paul Holmes

In February of 2000, Mr. Lars Nyberg, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of NCR Corporation, was invited to contribute to a book sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers entitled Memos to the President, to be published by John Wiley & Sons.  The book would collect memos to the new President-elect from CEOs of top American companies that would discuss business issues relevant to running the nation.  This invitation offered a terrific opportunity for NCR to introduce the concept of Relationship Technology (RT), our approach to doing business in the Networked World.
 
CHALLENGES
 
With the need to have the finished book in the stores well before the November election, the article had be drafted, reviewed and submitted in final form very quickly.  Given Mr. Nyberg's travel schedule and corporate commitments, there was very little time to consult with him about the memo.  Essentially only one initial, face-to-face meeting took place, followed by a quick review process via e-mail.  Additionally, the memo needed to clearly explain and advocate the concept of Relationship Technology and establish NCR's ownership of the idea without appearing overtly commercial or self-promotional.
 
OBJECTIVES
 
In keeping with the PricewaterhouseCoopers guidelines, our participation in the book project was intended to 1) leverage a credible, third-party vehicle for sharing our Relationship Technology concept more broadly in the marketplace; 2) demonstrate Mr. Nyberg's thought leadership in the technology industry; and, 3) positively contribute to his profile as an articulate and intelligent business leader.
 
STRATEGIC APPROACH
 
Through my focus on Relationship Technology (RT), I sought to explain a concept that we saw developing in the business environment, but which had not been articulated in this way before.  My approach was to explain the relevance of this trend toward technology for relationships and how it applies to businesses, consumers and all levels of government in a way that established a critical link with the NCR brand and family of solutions.  By linking RT to specific public sector opportunities, I was able to respect the format of the book and still provide illustrative examples that showcased NCR technology and thought leadership.
 
EXECUTION
 
Prior to developing the initial draft, I met with Mr. Nyberg to discuss the key messages we wished to communicate and the specific application of the Relationship Technology concept to governmental operations.  I conducted telephone interviews with representative members of NCR's business units, as well as our research and development, marketing, and public and government affairs teams.  I also reviewed background material previously developed by the public relations team setting forth the messaging for Relationship Technology.
 
Mr. Nyberg reviewed the initial draft, along with the heads of both our public and government affairs teams, with little change.  It was then submitted to PricewaterhouseCoopers on March 31, 2000 for review by the project manager and the publisher.  Minor changes were made during the final editing phase and the galley proofs were reviewed at the end of July.  The book started hitting bookstores across the nation early in September, with the official publication date of October 5th coinciding with a launch event in Washington, D.C.
 
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
 
One solid measure of the memo’s success was the request for Mr. Nyberg to participate in the launch event on October 5th in Washington, D.C.  The event was staged as a panel discussion with Valerie Morris, co-anchor of CNNfn's Market Coverage, acting as moderator.  Given the importance of technology to business and government, Mr. Nyberg along with industry commentator Esther Dyson, who both contributed memos to the chapter on Leveraging Technology, represented the project at the launch event.  James Schiro, CEO of PricewaterhouseCoopers, hosted the event and also participated in the panel discussion.  The event was attended by nearly 200 senior government officials, including representatives from the Office of the Vice President, Social Security Administration, and the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, Labor, and Transportation, among others. 
 
Following the event PlanetGov.com, the Web portal for government and military employees, ran a series of excerpts from the book.  Mr. Nyberg's memo was the first to be featured under the headline Memo to the Next President: Build Relationships with Technology.  The excerpt also included links to both the NCR and the Memos to the President Web sites.
 
Although we did not consider a book sales target as a worthwhile objective for participating in this project, the book is achieving good distribution, available on Amazon.com and through bookstore chains and independent booksellers nationwide. 
 
Additionally, we are using the book as part of a direct mail campaign to current and prospective customers to underscore Mr. Nyberg's thought leadership – and NCR's leadership position as a technology provider.  It is also part of the background we submit when securing high-level speaking engagements for him.  The project clearly continues to offer long-term benefits both for Mr. Nyberg and NCR.
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