A Test of Time – A Reason to Celebrate

Longevity is often something worth celebrating. And so it is with great pride and gratitude, along with an equal measure of humility, that I am delighted to say that Text 100 and Ketchum have achieved 10 great years working alongside IBM as its global public relations partners.

Way back in 2001, IBM’s agency review process was heralded as one of the most significant global events in the industry. The urgency, transparency and integrity of the selection committee was well publicized at the time. IBM was keen to consolidate the global roster of its PR suppliers down to a core team of no more than a select few. And with a virtual who’s who of the industry determined to participate, stories -– both fact and fiction — were told and retold of the various pitches and the efforts made to secure the IBM mandate.

Now with 10 years under our belt, I recently spent a little time with Jon Iwata, SVP of marketing and communications at IBM, and Rob Flaherty, president of Ketchum, reflecting less on how the relationship began and more on what has allowed it to continue and thrive over the past decade. We were able to boil it down to five main themes:

Elevating the Communications Function
Jon’s vision to rethink and remake the role of communications and marketing as a whole helped to cement the strategic value and influence these functions play in supporting the business and building for the future. Leading his internal resources and us as agency partners to continually stretch our view of this remit has led to developing best practices across a range of disciplines — from influencer relations and social media to SEO. Equally important, it has also succeeded in developing a truly integrated and aligned marketing and communications team.

A common purpose
We all understood very early on that our shared vision was to undertake the work of making a great company ever greater and therefore, a great brand even more valuable. Our teams worldwide regardless of location or employer believe they are part of an integrated team with a vision to make the IBM brand one of the most powerful in the world.

A sense of partnership
While core to the success of our relationship has been this commitment to a common purpose, there has also been recognition that in delivering against this, all our companies can be successful. This commitment to the well being of each organization has led to open and transparent dialogue when dealing with issues and complexities along the way.

A shared work ethic
Hiring talented people, who share IBM values across the world, has underscored the work ethic that prevails within our teams today. A dedication to smart work in order to produce great results and a willingness to celebrate together has been the hallmark of the IBMer both inside and outside of IBM.

Trust and personal responsibility
While there have been hundreds of people on our teams who have delivered extraordinary work over the years, we should probably also acknowledge the importance that we three are still here today. Older, grayer and hopefully wiser for sure, but what started as a strong business relationship between three leaders has evolved to become a trusted and personal relationship that also prevails across all our teams today.

It’s been a tremendous experience for all of us who have been involved over the last decade. And I think it’s safe to say that as a new era dawns at IBM with the New Year the journey will start afresh.

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