NEW YORK — Significantly more Americans in 2018 believe that CEOs who speak out on hotly debated current issues influence the decisions and actions of government, up to 48% vs. 38% in 2017, according to Weber Shandwick’s CEO Activism in 2018: The Purposeful CEO, a survey of 1,006 adult Americans. Other findings include:
•         Approximately half of Americans (48%) think CEO activism has an influence on government policy, compared to only 18% saying it has no influence
•         42% of Americans are aware of CEO activism, a significantly higher level of awareness than in previous years – and those who are aware are significantly more likely to believe that CEO activism influences the decisions and actions of the government
•         Respondents are in general agreement about one particular area: 77% say that CEOs need to speak out in defense of their company values when they are violated or threatened. 
The research also found that CEO activism has a clear impact on company loyalty and buying behavior. A third of employed Americans say they would be more loyal to their organization if the CEO took a public position on a hotly debated current issue, while almost half of consumers say they would be more likely to buy from a company led by a CEO who speaks out on an issue they agree with.

LOS ANGELES — Rick French (pictured), chairman & CEO of French/West/Vaughan, has joined Teen Cancer America’s board of directors. TCA is a national non-profit launched in 2012 by Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of The Who. Raleigh, NC-based FWV is the pro bono public relations agency for TCA. French also serves on the board of trustees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum in Cleveland, The Buddy Holly Educational Foundation and as managing partner of feature film company Prix Productions.

CHICAGO — A new report from Walker Sands finds 61% of marketers feel that the advancement of martech will not threaten their jobs -- indicating that the human element is vital to marketing success despite the value of new technology. While today’s marketers acknowledge the advancements of technology in the space, many believe there’s a limit on how far technology can take their organizations, according to the 2018 State of Martech report.  The report reveals 69% of marketers don’t think the perfect marketing stack exists, and they’re not sure it ever will. In fact, marketers aren’t even completely sold on the technologies said to be on the rise (e.g. chatbots, blockchain and artificial intelligence).

Other key findings from the report include:
•    Humans matter – 56% of marketers believe an equal mix of creativity and technology will drive marketing strategy five years from now.
•    Almost 70% of marketers don’t think the perfect marketing stack exists, and they’re not sure it ever will.
•    IoT ranks most popular among marketers – 13% say their organization is fully implemented and 56% are planning to implement.

LEXINGTON, KY — Husband and wife team Emma and Coley McKinstry have launched a full-service PR agency, 418 Communications, that specializes in helping clients tell their stories to the world through carefully planned and executed media campaigns. Emma previously worked at Goodman Media International, a boutique PR agency in New York City, where she focused primarily on clients in the healthcare, non-profit, and publishing industries. After relocating to Lexington in 2015, she began working as an independent contractor focusing specifically on early-stage start-ups looking to launch and grow their visibility in the media. After more than a decade in the financial industry, Coley made a career change earlier this year, joining Emma in public relations. During his time in finance, Coley’s daily responsibilities regularly centered around communications.