Linking strategy with communication and dealing with the digital world: the two main purposes of new-style communication directors.
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Linking strategy with communication and dealing with the digital world: the two main purposes of new-style communication directors.

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As the communication function at organisations becomes more advanced it draws ever closer to a point that is key for its performance: strategy, i.e. the ability to bring strategic value to an ...

As the communication function at organisations becomes more advanced it draws ever closer to a point that is key for its performance: strategy, i.e. the ability to bring strategic value to an organisation by joining together business-related objectives and results with those related directly to communication itself.
Over 2200 specialists from 42 countries clearly understand that reinforcing the communication function means taking on a strategic role at organisations once and for all, especially in regard to the CEO as a company’s top executive. These figures are taken from the 2012 edition of the annual survey conducted by the European Association of Communication Directors, EUPRERA (European Public Relations Education & Research Association and the European magazine Communication Director, with the sponsorship of international PR agency Ketchum-Pleon.
This document has been prepared by Corporate Excellence – Centre for Reputation Leadership. It has cited, from among other sources, speeches by Sebastián Cebrián, General Manager of Dircom, Alfonso González Herrero, Head of External Communications at IBM, Ángeles Moreno, tenured lecturer at the Dept. of Communication of the Rey Juan Carlos University , and Tony Noel, President of Ketchum-Pleon in Spain, delivered at the presentation of the study European Communication Monitor 2012, organised by Dircom and Ketchum-Pleon in 2012.

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    Linking strategy with communication and dealing with the digital world: the two main purposes of new-style communication directors. Linking strategy with communication and dealing with the digital world: the two main purposes of new-style communication directors. Document Transcript

    • Insights Strategy Documents I31/2013 Communication Linking strategy with communication and dealing with the digital world: the two main purposes of new-style communication directors As the communication function at organisations becomes more advanced it draws ever closer to a point that is key for its performance: strategy, i.e. the ability to bring strategic value to an organisation by joining together business-related objectives and results with those related directly to communication itself. Over 2200 specialists from 42 countries clearly understand that reinforcing the communication function means taking on a strategic role at organisations once and for all, especially in regard to the CEO as a company’s top executive. These figures are taken from the 2012 edition of the annual survey conducted by the European Association of Communication Directors, EUPRERA (European Public Relations Education & Research Association and the European magazine Communication Director, with the sponsorship of international PR agency Ketchum-Pleon. Indeed, 7 out of 10 communication directors think that this is already the case, that the recommendations of communication directors are listened to carefully and taken into account on management committees. 72% of communication directors believe that they are listened to by their colleagues on executive committees, but 82% This document has been prepared by Corporate Excellence – Centre for Reputation Leadership. It has cited, from among other sources, speeches by Sebastián Cebrián, General Manager of Dircom, Alfonso González Herrero, Head of External Communications at IBM, Ángeles Moreno, tenured lecturer at the Dept. of Communication of the Rey Juan Carlos University , and Tony Noel, President of Ketchum-Pleon in Spain, delivered at the presentation of the study European Communication Monitor 2012, organised by Dircom and Ketchum-Pleon in Madrid on July 12, 2012.
    • Linking strategy with communication and dealing with the digital world: the two main purposes of new-style communication directors believe it to be essential to continue promoting and demonstrating knowledge there and recognition of the strategic role of their function. 75.3% believe that it is therefore necessary to measure the impact of communication actions on business results. Accordingly, CCOs (Chief Communications Officers) are taking on a significant role at organisations. Their prime responsibility and remit is to impact on the strategy of their company and attain the influence required to act as a bridge to connect the interests of stakeholders and the shareholders who represent the company ownership. “The communication director is no longer merely a conveyor of information and raiser of awareness: he/ she is now a translator of concerns and a creator of behaviour patterns.” Their function is no longer merely to tell people outside what happens at their company; they must translate its approaches for outside audiences and interpret the concerns of stakeholders for those within. In other words, the communication director is no longer merely a conveyor of information and raiser of awareness: he/she is now a translator of concerns and a creator of behaviour patterns. More competences and responsibilities Almost half the time that communication directors devote to their remit is spent aligning communication with strategy and with the needs and expectations of stakeholders. Ángeles Moreno, a tenured lecturer at the Dept. of Communication of the Rey Juan Carlos University and a research co-ordinator in Spain, maintains that the keys to this function lie in studying and analysing reports, developing plans, drawing up scenarios and enhancing the company’s legitimate entitlement to operate and act in the economy and in society. Other important tasks include general planning, the annual budget, effective team management, assessment and development, the implementation of processes and strategies and the preparation of the company’s responses in tackling any situation of risk or crisis that may arise. A further 37% of their time is devoted to operational and management tasks and the remaining 14.7% to training members of the company itself in communicationrelated matters. As far as training related to communication directors themselves is concerned, there is a clear gap between what they themselves demand –more training in corporate management, finance and team management– and what their organisations offer them, which is more strategic in their specific field and focused on new forms and new channels of communication such as the digital world and social networks. The unstoppable rise of the digital world The communication directors interviewed for the survey believe that in the next three years one of the most important issues for the communication function will be the rise of the on-line world, social networks, digital media and mobile apps. Indeed, there is a 34.7 point gap in terms of the overall application of such apps, i.e. the extent to which they are actually implemented is lagging behind the importance attributed to them. This gap between the importance attributed and Graph 1: Communication management has to catch up in the field of mobile applications Gap between importance and current implementation of social media tools in communications -34,7 % Mobile applications (Apps, Mobile Webs) Online communities (social networks) -20,1 % -19,4 % Online video Webblogs -17,5 % -15,9 % Location-based services Microblogs (e.g. Twitter) -14,0 % Social bookmarks -11,8 % Wikis -11,5 % Slide sharing -11,1 % Online audio (e.g. podcasts) -10,8 % Mash-ups Photo sharing Virtual worlds -8,6 % -7,6 % -5,6 % Source: European Communication Monitor 2012. Insights 2 the degree of implementation is perhaps the most
    • Linking strategy with communication and dealing with the digital world: the two main purposes of new-style communication directors significant obstacle to be overcome if a policy on digital matters is to be developed that is useful to the overall communications strategy and that provides some guarantee of future success. There are currently more points of contact between companies and their stakeholders than ever before in the history of the function, and communication needs to respond to this somehow: integration would appear to be the only way to cover the full range of channels and communicate efficiently, and at the same time effectively. Focus on business ethics “It is hard to prove the worth of the communication function if people know nothing about it: it is essential to promote and demonstrate knowledge and recognition of its strategic role.” The 2010 study examined the contribution of communication to the objectives of organisations. In 2011 the impact of the social media was incorporated, and the 2012 analysis now includes the value of transparency and ethics in the field of communication and business, according to Alfonso González Herrero, Head of External Communications at IBM and co-ordinator of the European Association of Communication Directors in Spain. By contrast with what has happened to date, the problems that are beginning to concern European communication directors are mostly related to ethical issues, with matters bordering on behaviour patterns that are ethically praiseworthy or approachable, especially in regard to relations with the public administration and institutions, but also in matters of digital communication. Some of the causes lie in the opening up of certain markets, in globalisation itself, in the rise of new media such as the digital media and, without doubt, in the production of codes of conduct and ethics at organisations that regulate and penalise certain patterns of behaviour to prevent them from taking root and ending up by affecting the reputation and, indeed, the very viability and survival of companies. Almost 6 out of 10 (57.6%) communication directors believe that they currently face more ethical problems than just five years ago. 77.3% of them believe that this has to do with compliance with regulations and rules on transparency, 72.3% associate it with the sudden expansion of social networks and 57.4% with the challenges that arise from operating in countries with different situations and cultures. However, only 29% state that they have specifically used the codes of conduct of their organisations to tackle and resolve ethical problems, while 51.7% state that they have not done so. It is among older and more experienced communication directors and those who belong to professional organisations that the use of such codes is most widespread. 31.7% state that the codes of ethics now in force in the profession are outdated and are neither useful nor relevant to the problems currently facing communication directors. Even so, 93.2% believe that codes are necessary and essential, and feel that it is professional associations at both the domestic and international levels that should draw them up and develop them, or at least their foundations. Conclusions: the major challenges still outstanding In the opinion of Tony Noel, President of KetchumPleon in Spain, there are five challenges that professional communication directors need to Graph 2: Despite low utilisation and critical voices, communication professionals clearly see the need for a code of ethics Does the communication profession need a code of ethics? Which institutions are most eligible to provide such a code? National professional associations International professional associations 28,4 % Organisations individually 19,8 % Governmental institutions No 6,8 % 29,6 % 10,2 % Universities and educational institutions 5,2 % Source: European Communication Monitor 2012. Insights 3
    • Linking strategy with communication and dealing with the digital world: the two main purposes of new-style communication directors meet in the coming years if they wish to maintain and extend their competences and influence at organisational level: 1. Guardianship of ethics: this role needs to be enhanced by adopting and implementing a single code of ethics adapted to the actual needs of the profession. 2. Measuring of results: it is essential to have and implement common, widely accepted tools for measuring the value of communication to organisations in terms of the efficiency of resource investment, time and money and the effectiveness of actions taken. 3. Development of networks: it is essential to bridge the gap that still exists between the importance attributed to these issues and the amount of actual resources earmarked for making a success of them. 4. Internal influence: it is vital for the communication function and its value in a company to be known and appreciated in-house by other management staff and by the workforce as a whole. It is hard to prove the worth of something if people know nothing about it. 5. Business negotiation: it is also essential for communication directors not to be merely experts in communication (otherwise it would be difficult to link it with strategy) but also to be capable of handling other areas such as finance, administration and team management, like their fellow members of the management committee. Insights 4
    • Leading by reputation ©2013, Corporate Excellence - Centre for Reputation Leadership A foundation established by major companies aiming to excel in the management of intangible assets and facilitate promotion of strong brands with a good reputation and a capacity to compete on the global markets. Our objective is to become the driving force, which would lead and consolidate professional reputation management as a strategic asset, fundamental for building value of companies around the world. Disclaimer This document is a property of Corporate Excellence – Centre for Reputation Leadership developed with an objective to share business knowledge about management of reputation, brand, communication and public affairs. Corporate Excellence - Centre for Reputation Leadership is the owner of all rights related to the intellectual property on images, texts, drawings or any other content or elements of this product. Corporate Excellence - Centre for Reputation Leadership is the holder of all necessary permissions for the use of the document and therefore any reproduction, distribution, publishing or modification of the document without its express permission is prohibited.