By Adam Cormier, Account Director
Last week, I had the honor of attending PRSA Boston’s C-Suite Conversation with Deirdre Latour, Chief Communications Officer at GE. Held at the Non-Profit Center, Ms. Latour spoke to packed room of Boston communicators that were interested in meeting GE’s top PR practitioner and hear more about the company’s move.
GE is in the midst of a significant transformation. From the perspective of communicators, this transformation is an interesting study in messaging, perception and reputation management. Founded by Thomas Edison, GE’s heritage of innovation has had a profound socio-economic impact on this country for 124 years. Most know of GE as a maker of things… from jet engines to light bulbs and kitchen appliances to MRI machines. GE’s transformation is bringing together the physical and digital world. As much as digital transformation is bandied about in boardrooms and strategic plans, GE’s digital transformation GE could have a major culturally significance. Ms. Latour has a heritage of innovation to work from, yet 124 years of perceptions to change.
As a Connecticut-native Bostonian that lives on Cape Cod, I came away impressed with the decision to move GE’s corporate HQ. The Fairfield, Conn. campus that will be vacated is impressive and located in a great town with “easy” proximity to NYC. Granted the business climate in Connecticut has been challenging for several years, there is more to the story than politics and taxes.
GE’s move to Boston is as disruptive for GE as it is a win for the city. As Ms. Latour mentioned in this discussion, “Whenever you change your physical surroundings, the process of relocating requires that you shed excess material things and you think fresh about what you want to do differently. For GE, I think we consciously didn’t transport any sediment of bureaucracy that likely built up over time simply from years of being in one place with a consistent operational routine. Any move is disruptive, but that’s proven to be good for us.”
Change is good and change is constant. As communicators, we understand change and have developed the instincts to not only anticipate change, but to lead change. We are beholden to the perceptions that we manufacture and Ms. Latour is shaping our perceptions about a brand that has existed in significant ways for more than 100 years.
With that said, welcome to Boston, GE. Bostonians embrace challengers and change agents and we celebrate their wins. We have a bit of history too and have experienced some pretty significant changes ourselves. We’ve been tested, only to be proven that our bond to this is strong.
One last thing about moving to Boston, as winter approaches, if you see a chair in a shoveled out parking spot, don’t move it.