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Posts from April 2012

Focusing Communications on Business Outcomes

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

3 Steps to Better Executive Communication

Posted on  3 April 12  by 

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When an executive asks you to jump, do you respond, “How high?” Could you ever imagine responding with “Why?”

As our content deliverer Rick likes to say, “Sure, you can imagine that…On your last day with the company.”

Executives bombard Communications with requests to write speeches, build town hall presentations, craft memos, and orchestrate engagement campaigns. Eager to show how high they can jump, communicators get caught “doing communication” for leaders. As a result, leaders never get good at communication and communicators run themselves ragged.

We think Communications can fight back! Politely, of course.

Follow this three-step communication triage process to help recondition leaders understanding of communication and shift their expectations of the type of support that Communications can deliver.

1. Preparation: Connect to Business Objective

In the upfront part of the triage process, your goal is to connect the leader communication request to a business objective. By asking consultative questions, you will begin to recondition a leaders’ communication thought process. No longer will mass communication after a decision be a given. Instead, the leader will be forced to think about communication

3 Surprising Trends about Social Media in Brazil

This blog is part of our Building a Global Mindset series to help communicators increase their own cultural awareness and global perspective.

Brazil is one of the hottest countries in the world at the moment, not only as the host of the next World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, but particularly due its rapid growth and rise as one of the key emerging economies – Brazil just recently overtook the UK to become sixth-largest in the world. So it is not surprising that many members ask us about what it’s like to communicate with Brazilian audiences and how to message differently in this market. Brazil is not just the land of samba, football and beaches, but also a country of hard-working people, where relationships are key to successful business partnerships, and where internet and new technologies are rapidly expanding like in other emerging economies.

In our research of the Brazilian culture, wediscovered that internet usage is increasing in Brazil and that social media is extremely popular among online audiences, which means that there is an opportunity to connect with audiences through this channel (and actually 70% of Brazilian companies already use or monitor social media channels).

As communicators, what can you do to become smarter about social media usage in Brazil, and what does that mean for your work? Here are three somewhat surprising trends about social media in Brazil: Read More »

3 Steps to Make Your Job Easier

I’m not trying to get too Zen or anything, but chances are the answers to the questions that you are seeking already reside within… well, within your organization anyway.  Let’s take a look at what I mean.  

CEC’s latest tool, “How to Seek Existing Business Insight” sets the stage to help you and your fellow communicators uncover business insights from utilizing information that currently resides with your business partners.  Undoubtedly, there have been times when after completing a difficult project, you expressed your frustrations on what little resources you had available to a fellow colleague, only to hear them say, “Oh you should have asked me about that; I just worked on something similar.”  How much easier life would have been if you simply could know who is working on what project, right?

True to form the CEC Research team breaks down a seemingly daunting task into a few simple steps. They even provide tips and a checklist, come on!

Step 1 – Determine Information Needs

Put your thinking caps on and get ready to brainstorm.  The purpose of this integral first step is to better understand the specific information that you’ll need to achieve your objective.  By doing this, you and your team will be able to identify the gaps in your project, which will in turn lead you to the right person or function who can answer your questions. Read More »