Edward Gala may have spent the entire 13 years of his corporate career at Xerox Corp., but that doesn't mean he has always served the same firm. With the Stamford, Conn.-based company's widely publicized ups and downs — an SEC investigation in 2002, fluctuating share prices and a corporate makeover that includes a renewed focus on technological innovation among them — “It's been like working for four different companies,” the vice president of corporate marketing says.
Now that Xerox has refreshed its reputation and regained its footing in the printing market, Gala, working from the company's Webster, N.Y., offices, works on communicating an integrated brand message.
With a public relations degree and years of agency and in-house PR experience in his portfolio, Gala knows that one of the most powerful ways of doing so is through strategic events.
He offers the example of a recent “integrated color” event designed not just to showcase Xerox color products but to highlight color itself as a critical component of doing business in the modern world. Incorporating the expertise of Xerox research and development professionals, respected color experts and even TV host and “science guy” Bill Nye, Gala and his team pulled together a strategic event that “told the integrated color story” and explained how to use color to be more successful, he recounts. Rather than simply demonstrating new products and services, “We took the theme of color, which is something Xerox wants to stand for in the future, and hit on number of key priorities associated with it.”
Just as important as broadening the scope of event content is expanding the breadth of the audience that experiences that content, according to Gala. In this era of integrated brand communication, Xerox is much more likely to stage events such as a 2007 partner summit, which Gala describes as a departure from the “traditional sales meeting.” Instead, the event — attended by resellers, agent partners, media members and industry analysts — was “a combination partner meeting, announcement and strategic platform to talk about mutual growth opportunities in the small and mid-size business market,” he says.
Assembling a variety of stakeholders to take part in a single, interactive experience is part of harnessing the distinct advantage of the event as a marketing tool. “Within the event structure, you have the opportunity to showcase leaders in the company, demonstrate offerings and give people a glimpse into your innovation activities, and you have the ability to tell a story that really spans the entire breadth of what your company does and what your company stands for,” Gala notes. “There aren't that many marketing disciplines that allow you to integrate all those things in that way.”
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“Really believing that something can and should be done, having a positive outlook on the possibilities and being able to communicate that are important. If you're optimistic about the possibilities and the outcome, then it all falls together.”
“I married my high-school sweetheart, and we built a great family together. Nothing I do outside of that can match that accomplishment.”
“I think that it is challenging to weave together threads of different parts of the organization that may at first glance seem to be disconnected but in fact have many commonalities between and among them. To identify and find the common ground is challenging but extremely rewarding.”