I’ve met two kinds of communicators in my years with the CEC: those whose CXOs “get it” – the value and importance of communication objectives like reputation, that is – and those not so fortunate. These unfortunate communicators ask for help proving the ROI of communication activities and the connection between communication outcomes (like “trust” or employee engagement) and business outcomes (like market share or employee productivity). The lucky ones listen to this conversation in smug relief, since their “enlightened” executives support good communication practice – transparency, authenticity, proactive outreach – without needing a quantitative business case.
But the uncomfortable truth revealed through these discussions is that there isn’t a lot that communicators can do to transform their senior executives from skeptics to ones who “get it.” When that transformation does occur, it’s usually brought on by a crisis or similar hit to corporate reputation (for example, financial services companies have a lot more enlightened CEOs today than in 2007) – precisely what communicators work to avoid!
What if there were another way? That is, what if you could so clearly align Communications’ activities to specific business goals that even a skeptical CXO would “get it”? We’ve seen a few leading communicators do just that – some under pressure, others proactively – with amazing results: demonstrable impact on business goals like safety, operating cost savings, market entry, and speed to market. And more traditional communication goals like reputation, employee engagement, and trust come along for the ride!
These leading communicators recognize that some – but not all – business priorities require a key stakeholder group to change certain behaviors. And that Communications can do much more than influence perceptions to drive that behavior change.
The CEC research team is busy uncovering the true scope of Communications’ opportunity for business impact and practical strategies for unlocking this full potential. These include:
- Enabling the whole Communications team to spot opportunities for high-value business impact (not just the company’s top priorities);
- Uncovering the true drivers of stakeholder behavior (not just awareness and perceptions) and creatively employing communication tactics to influence them; and
- Reinforcing these actions in Communications’ planning, staff development, and performance management systems.
Our work will be completed in May and will be shared at a series of in-person and virtual events and on our members-only Web site.
Join us at an upcoming event:
- Seniormost Communications executives may register for an Annual Executive Retreat to discuss this content with their peers by clicking here.
- All other staff at CEC member companies may attend one of our regional briefings by clicking here. We will likely add 1-2 more dates and locations to the “road show.”
In the meanwhile, follow our progress here: Unlocking Communications’ Potential for Business Impact