Originally published at CMCC News.
Celebration and intrigue are in store for attendees of the Chamber’s Annual Meeting on February 9, 2017 as members connect, engage and learn how to navigate the year ahead. From Patrick Bryant, Chairman of the Board to the keynote speakers from Purple Strategies, members will walk away with powerful information and new insight for their business success.
Speaking of purple, whether you favored Hillary or Donald, or consider yourself a liberal or conservative, you are likely to agree that we live in politically tumultuous times.
Tumultuous times, of course, can lead to uncertainty, which is a challenge for even the most seasoned business owners. How to deal with that uncertainty will be the theme of the keynote presentation
The speakers will be Chris Durlak and Rory Cooper, managing directors at Washington, DC-area strategic communications firm, Purple Strategies. The firm is so-named for the color created when mixing the two ends of the political spectrum, generally referred to as “red” and “blue”.
Durlak, the company’s managing director of client strategy and engagement, told CMCC News the firm’s specialty is helping its “clients navigate this environment with as little friction as possible for their business.”
He added, “We’re living in a post-trust era where consumers are very skeptical of business, government and virtually all institutions.”
Durlak, a veteran advertising and communications strategist who managed national media campaigns for both Fortune 500 corporations and candidates, represents clients in entertainment, pharmaceutical, defense and technology industries. He’s best known as a media consultant who created campaign ads for the Indiana Democratic Party, the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus, SEIU Local 32BJ, Congressmen Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas), Andre Carson (D-Indiana) and Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa).
He said that the political reality of today is one that many simply could not predict one year ago.
“Early last year, most people thought Trump would fade and a Clinton, Rubio or Kasich would take office,” Durlak said. “I think we’ve been accustomed to those types of swings from administration to administration, even when we’re changing parties. However, Trump is something we haven’t dealt with in modern times. He’s truly unpredictable.”
Durlak said some companies even fear reprisals from the president coming in the form of 140-character “tweets”.
“Fortune 100 companies are worried that the president will call them out via Twitter or in offhand remarks at the White House,” Durlak said. “It’s why you’re seeing a lot of companies preemptively announce U.S. job creation efforts in concert with the White House.”
Cooper agreed with Durlak, saying that the president’s unpredictability is a challenge because business relies on certainty.
“While it may appear his administration is business friendly, his entire persona is built around the ‘forgotten’ blue collar workers of America and this will cause policy conflicts,” Cooper told CMCC News. “Certainty is critical when it comes to the regulatory environment. Trump has talked about getting rid of 75 percent of all regulations but to what aim, and who remains in his cross hairs?”
Cooper hails from the other side of the aisle from Durlak. He is a veteran communications and political strategist who has worked for legislators in the U.S. House of Representatives, the White House and in campaign committees. He most recently was communications director for Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and previously managed communications, media strategy and messaging for the conservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation. He was part of the original staff for Homeland Security at the White House following 9-11 and played a central role in creating that department under President George W. Bush.
Durlak said another challenge — and opportunity — facing businesses is the changing media landscape.
In recent years, many consumers have become very skeptical of the traditional news media. “We’ve seen a democratization of news, which is good in a lot of respects but also means people rarely hear anything counter to their existing point of view,” he said.
Cooper agreed, adding that the key is to look at the challenges companies face, in the lens of performance, character and their connectivity to the future — and then to filter that through the political and cultural environment as it currently exists.
“Trust and character matter more than they did a few years ago,” he said. “But people also need to envision connecting with you in the future, or in other words, do I see myself or anyone I know driving a Chevy in 10 years? Businesses need to be a lot more proactive these days to build up brand equity because it can be lost in a hurry.”
The selection of Purple Strategies for the Chamber’s Annual Meeting keynote address was made because of the convergence of business, branding and politics.
“With Rory and Chris from Purple Strategies, the worlds of branding and politics collide. Not only is it a fresh perspective, business audiences actually leave with new insight about their own marketing”, Mick Fleming, CEO, Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.
The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Meeting is Thursday, Feb. 9, at the Charleston Gaillard Center from 6 – 9:30 p.m.