A Lonely Petri Dish

Posted on June 1, 2011 by 1 Comment

Is the word innovation overused or even abused? This has been debated numerous times and it is the question with which I began my remarks to the American Chamber of Commerce in the People’s Republic of China (AmCham-China) recently. We cannot become jaded with the term innovation, but we do need to turn our attention more to the IMPACT OF INNOVATION.

I remember all too well the earlier days of the PR industry when press tours, press releases, white papers and press conferences were among the chief ways of communicating innovation. I also remember countless times we spoke with great engineers, scientists or inventors, working to convince them that the right way to communicate had little to do with features, and everything to do with benefits to users, the ultimate consumers of new products or ideas.

We have improved in communicating the benefits of innovation. The industry has advanced in how it presents innovation to the world, and most significantly we are increasing the integration of multiple forms of communications — all with the goal of telling the story of IMPACT, not just INNOVATION. Otherwise a scientific advancement might simply stay in a lonely petri dish.

Years ago I remember telling one engineer that the incredible speed improvement he had gained in his product was indeed amazing to ME, but we were going to have to elaborate on the outcome of positive impact for the customers. It’s fair to say that for the most part the communications industry has matured well beyond this basic concept, but I still think we need to focus further on who benefits — and WHY — especially in the case of an evolving set of technologies like mobile computing that is moving into all corners of the earth.

Multinational companies are continuously increasing or decreasing their investment in R&D around the world, and before going to China I looked into the stats of what many of the multinationals were investing in China. My fellow AmCham panelists were Helen Chui, SVP and GM of Public Affairs, HP China, and Bill Valentino, VP of CSR, Bayer China, two companies which, along with Microsoft (our client), Cisco and Intel, make significant R&D investments in China. The Chinese government has laid out ambitious plans for putting its stake in the ground for innovation in healthcare, biotechnology, alternative energies and high-tech machinery.

The topic of how to move from awareness to adoption of technology and science advancements was a good one for this AmCham group. We enjoyed an engaged discussion around how communications can help play a transformative role, which adds to my optimism about the future of our industry. Many communications firms have established themselves in China, and we have a great deal of opportunity YET to be seized to expand and advance our industry in this vitally important market.

My view is that the most exciting opportunity is to effectively engage, measure and analyze our work to show the greatest ROI and drive integrated influence. We have a vast opportunity that is virtually untapped.

AmCham Panel

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One Comment

Creating Ideas That Stick | Unfettered Optimist on June 8, 2011

[...] risks, embrace failure, mix it up and find a way to bring their idea to life. As I mentioned in my last post, I was recently in Beijing, speaking to the American Chamber of Commerce in the People’s Republic [...]

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