The idea of “Resilient Dynamism” proved neither resilient nor dynamic, judging the many media comments from this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos. Next year WEF should have a clearer call to action from the progress actually made during the Davos gatherings. The weakness and strength of the Annual Meeting is that you “have to be there” to get a grasp of the action. Non-attendees have no time to watch direct webcasts or follow CNBC / CNN reporting from the event. So we do not see the wood for all the trees.
January is always a busy month for us at Leidar, thanks to several client engagements around the WEF Annual Meeting in Davos. This year we helped clients with their media outreach, shaped their messages to set the global agenda as well with on-site event management support and report writing.
I recall going to Davos first time in 1990. Even then I was frustrated by the frenzy and overwhelming set of activities. I learned the lesson quickly: to get anything out of Davos you better be well prepared and have the right level of access. So until – if ever – I get a proper badge, my favorite place at Davos is to view it from afar. Each year I am grateful for the consultants who take the train to Davos and stay in some far away apartment rented at an extortionate price.
Despite its success, media are still occupied with what to make out of Davos. Two of last week’s columns in FT are both worth a read, although they tell two different stories. John Gapper talks about “a global conspiracy of the power elite” and highlights how WEF has been very successful with building an “infotainment” enterprise. Gillian Tett used Edelman’s Trust Barometer as evidence for the increasing distrust in world leaders and platforms like WEF.
Having supported leaders going to Davos for more than twenty years now, I know most people go there to get a job done – and not just to be seen. The Annual Meeting is a unique place for unique connections. Serving many different actors – reaching from large corporations to NGOs. We are privileged to see first hand that connections happen and that the intentions are genuinely good.
And if you yourself are going to Davos next year, you should start preparing now – take lessons from this year and seek to influence the global agenda and make the right connections. Your ticket to Davos comes with a responsibility to lead and communicate.