Interview with Neil Mortine – Branding, Communications and Marketing Expert
Neil Mortine is President and CEO of Fahlgren Inc., a communications holding company consisting of Fahlgren Mortine Public Relations, Fahlgren Advertising, and Fahlgren GRIP Digital. His more than 30 years of corporate communications and brand marketing management experience includes serving notable brands including McDonald’s, Kroger, Emerson, Cardinal Health, Ohio Tourism Division, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and many more. Mortine was named to the Smart Business Columbus Power 100 the past three years and was recognized by the Central Ohio Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America with the Walt Seifert Award for Outstanding Service.
- Question: How would you articulate Brand America’s promise?
Brand America is the world’s largest brand and has always stood for the ability to achieve your personal dreams. As is so smartly said on the StrengtheningBrandAmerica.com site, "… if you work hard enough, and take smart risks, you have the opportunity to be appropriately rewarded" in the United States.
I also believe that the second sentence within the United States Declaration of Independence may best summarize our promise as a nation: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
- Question: What are the challenges that Brand America must address to consistently be seen as "walking the talk"?
First and foremost, we need to define and communicate a consistent brand both within the United States and to the international community as a whole. Over time our message has been diluted by political innuendo and poor decisions by top leaders within government. We need to get back to communicating that the United State is the "place" where everyone has the freedom to practice their own set of religious and personal beliefs, take the chance to realize a dream and provide a better life for their families.
Within the country, it will be important to reinforce the values that were used to establish this great nation – freedom, family, community and the merits of hard work. At the same time, we need everyone to carry themselves in a manner to the international community that reinforces the dreams and values of brand America.
There also are several key infrastructure components that need to be addressed by government and society including access to capital, government regulation and tax structure, as well as ensuring we value our environment and natural resources.
- Question: What are the traits of Brand America that people around the world are likely to find appealing?
We are the land of opportunity. Personal freedom, equal opportunity for all, and ability to prosper based on one’s desires, ideas and dreams are the key promises of Brand America that have been most appealing over time.
While the business environment can be improved, it is generally easy to purchase property, hire qualified associates and navigate through the regulatory system. These factors combined with a stable political environment are additional traits that appeal to the international community.
- Question: What are the different ways Brand America can keep its promise?
Maintain the desire to constantly improve. We may disagree with the details on how to accomplish the improvements, but there are a couple areas where constant attention and investment need to be made:
- Education – greater emphasis needs to be placed on the benefits of education. Providing more access to diverse educational experiences (such as the science, technology, engineering and math initiatives – see the Ohio STEM Learning Network as an innovative role model) as well as non-traditional educational outlets (e.g., charter schools, online coursework, community colleges, etc.). Attaining an education must be available to everyone.
- Social Services – there are millions of organizations that are available to help individuals achieve the dreams. In fact, many of today’s young entrepreneurs and students are investing their time and energy to make a difference in building a better future for us all. The more we can invest in social innovation and make those in need of the resource available the better we will be able to meet Brand America’s promise. A great example of this in action is the Social Innovation Initiative started by the Wells Foundation and The Ohio State University.
- Question: What is the importance of Brand America in the world?
Brand America represents the ability to choose one’s path in life and attain your dreams. The United States serves as a beacon of hope for our citizens and the international community. A strong Brand America helps serve as a stabilizing global force both economically and socially.
- Question: Who benefits from a strengthened Brand America?
Everyone. From all those living in the United States through additional opportunities for growth and prosperity to the international community that can use our democratic ideals as a means of changing and bettering their own communities.
- Question: Do you believe Brand America has a relevant, competitive and authentic promise?
Yes, but we need to make sure we live our brand promise as a land of opportunity.