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Table of Contents 
Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 
Forward . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ...
Preface 
Ask any group of communication professionals to tell you their biggest chal-lenges, 
and you’ll hear that senior ...
Preface 
representative of your CEO, the findings suggest momentum. The shift that has 
come gradually, reluctantly, is no...
Forward 
Successful leaders are defined by many qualities and characteristics. They cultivate 
a strong sense of culture a...
1 
Executive Summary 
The IABC Research Foundation contracted with Shugoll Research to conduct interviews with 
senior exe...
Executive Summary 
Study Participants 
George Barrett 
Chairman and CEO 
Cardinal Health 
(Health care) 
United States 
Ph...
Executive Summary 
Key Findings 
Background 
When organizational leaders were asked to 
describe their top business challe...
Executive Summary 
Understanding the Role of 
Communication Professionals 
The primary responsibility of communication 
pr...
detailed Findings 
The CEOs involved in this study were asked to describe their top business challenges over the 
next thr...
Detailed Findings 
“Whether you’re in politics, business, or 
NGOs…the channels through which you 
can communicate have be...
Detailed Findings 
Another contributor to the desire for more 
communication is change. The rapid change 
in the world tod...
detailed Findings 
Some leaders suggest that employees are 
applying the most pressure on them to com-municate 
better and...
Communication: 
A Leadership Competency 
The executives who participated in this study view communication as an essential ...
Communication: 
A Leadership Competency 
These leaders also view communication as a 
top business priority. 
“…my role is ...
Communication: 
A Leadership Competency 
“[One of our biggest challenges is] to 
make sure that the company strategy is 
u...
Communication: 
A Leadership Competency 
Constituents tend to look to “the top” to get 
important messages; therefore, all...
Communication: 
A Leadership Competency 
“Well, you have to fi nd a way to get every-body 
to hear what you’re trying to s...
Communication: 
A Leadership Competency 
“I am the person where it starts and 
probably fi nishes in terms of the commu-ni...
The Senior Executive’s 
Role as a Communicator 
4 
Senior executives believe that their role as chief communicator is to l...
The Senior Executive’s 
Role as a Communicator 
“It’s about vision and having your sights 
on a future place. You have to ...
5 
The Elements of Effective 
Communication 
The CEOs interviewed for this study had a lot to say about effective communic...
The Elements of 
Effective Communication 
Most executives agreed that prior to any sort of communication with key constitu...
The Elements of 
Effective Communication 
To be effective, you must deliver a consistent 
message to all constituencies. 
...
The Elements of 
Effective Communication 
The CEOs said that it was important not 
to underestimate their audiences’ abili...
The Elements of 
Effective Communication 
“Managing change requires creating a 
personal connection with your employ-ees. ...
The Elements of 
Effective Communication 
It is a leader’s responsibility, as the primary 
communicator, to be sensitive t...
The Elements of 
Effective Communication 
Effective communication is frequent but 
succinct. It is important to communicat...
The Elements of 
Effective Communication 
“Think global, act local.” 
—Christie Hefner, 
formerly of Playboy Enterprises I...
The Elements of 
Effective Communication 
“You’ve got to let them [communicators] 
inside. They’ve truly got to know what’...
6 
How Leaders Communicate: 
The Tools They Use 
Most leaders agree that corporate communication has changed dramatically ...
How Leaders Communicate: 
The Tools They Use 
“What has changed is that people both 
inside the company and outside the co...
How Leaders Communicate: 
The Tools They Use 
Face-to-face communication tools used most often by executives include the f...
How Leaders Communicate: 
The Tools They Use 
“The fi rst thing I did was initiate an open 
forum that I just called the C...
How Leaders Communicate: 
The Tools They Use 
4 Social media. In addition to 
external communication via 
social media, so...
How Leaders Communicate: 
The Tools They Use 
“You’d better hug social media. You’d 
better make sure that whatever you wr...
How Leaders Communicate: 
The Tools They Use 
“For us this is a relatively recent phe-nomenon. 
I think it is a relatively...
How Leaders Communicate: 
The Tools They Use 
“Now, with social media everybody is a 
communicator and so you get this gre...
7 
The Role of Communication 
Professionals within the 
Organization 
The primary responsibility of communication professi...
The Role of Communication 
Professionals Within the Organization 
“They [communicators] play a key role. It 
really is the...
The Role of Communication 
Professionals Within the Organization 
“They convey to us what people want to 
know about, wher...
The Role of Communication 
Professionals Within the Organization 
Additionally, communication professionals 
are expected ...
The Role of Communication 
Professionals Within the Organization 
4 Take initiative, be proactive, 
anticipate issues and ...
8 
Conclusion 
The executives who participated in this study believe communication is a core competency 
that plays a crit...
Conclusion 
to integrate these new communication tools 
into the company’s media mix. This is neces-sary 
to create the mo...
Conclusion 
OTHER IMPLICATIOnS 
Communication is the lynchpin to ensuring 
that all constituents are aligned with the cor-...
Conclusion 
“We live in incredibly volatile times..., 
incredibly fast-changing times. You know 
in the old days we had ki...
Appendix: 
background, Methodology, 
Objectives, Limitations 
The purpose of this study was to better understand the role ...
Appendix: Background, 
Methodology, Objectives, Limitations 
Study Objectives 
4 Identify the top business chal-lenges 
fo...
About Marketwire 
Every day, Marketwire plays a critical role in shaping the conversations that happen in newsrooms, 
corp...
About the Researcher 
Merrill Shugoll is president and a principal of Shugoll Research, one of the top 100 research 
compa...
About the IAbC Research 
Foundation 
The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Research Foundation se...
A view from the top. Corporate communication from the perspective of senior executives.
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A view from the top. Corporate communication from the perspective of senior executives.

Corporate communication from the perspective of senior executives.

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A view from the top. Corporate communication from the perspective of senior executives.

  1. 1. Table of Contents Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Forward . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 1. Executive Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 2. Detailed Findings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 The Challenge and Importance of Communication . . . . . . . 10 Increased Demand for Communication . . . . . . . . . . 10 The Constituencies Demanding More Communication . . . . 12 3. Communication: A Leadership Competency . . . . . . . . . . . 14 4. The Senior Executive’s Role as a Communicator . . . . . . . . . 20 5. The Elements of Effective Communication . . . . . . . . . . . 22 6. How Leaders Communicate: The Tools They Use . . . . . . . . . 31 7. The Role of Communication Professionals Within the Organization . . 39 8. Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 More Communication and More Options for Communicating . . 44 Diversifi cation of Audiences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Skepticism of Business and Leaders . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Other Implications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Advice for Communication Professionals . . . . . . . . . . . 46 The Future of Corporate Communication . . . . . . . . . . 47 Appendix: Background, Methodology, Objectives, Limitations. . . . . . 48 About the Sponsor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 About the Researcher . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 About the IABC Research Foundation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
  2. 2. Preface Ask any group of communication professionals to tell you their biggest chal-lenges, and you’ll hear that senior management doesn’t value the communication function, that communication budgets are the first to be cut in times of belt-tightening and that communicators don’t have a seat at the strategy table. What it all boils down to is a feeling that “they just don’t get it.” But what if they do? What if CEOs not only understand that communication is critical to organi-zational success, but know they need expert help to get it right? What if they want to make communication a core competency throughout the organization, rather than treating it as a specialized skill that resides in one department? What if, in spite of their initial reluctance to embrace social media, they’ve come to the realization that the world has changed, that audience demands for authentic engagement have changed, and they want a guide to lead them into this new realm? What if we asked them, and we found out that things had changed? Well, we did, and they have. IABC went to the source, interviewing CEOs from around the world, and we heard what communicators have been waiting for leaders to say. They get it. They need us. They understand that communication is no longer about perfectly crafted scripts, delivered via controlled channels. They sense that the rules have changed dramatically, even as they don’t yet fully understand the new playing field. So what are the implications for the communication industry? By asking questions of CEOs, what this research has uncovered is the need for more ques-tions— ones that must be directed inward, to the industry and to ourselves, as communicators. Are we ready, after years of bashing our heads against walls, to bash down the walls? Are we prepared to shift from the role of doing the commu-nication, into one of facilitating communication? If given the seat at the strategy table, do we have the strategic skills and the business knowledge to play at that level? Are we positioned to serve as guides through uncharted social media terri-tory, or have we left that to someone more technologically savvy? Will the same skills and knowledge that were necessary in the past be the ones that are needed in the future? Although these questions and their answers have relevance at every level of our profession, the group most immediately and directly impacted are the senior communicators, those already closest to CEOs. If they haven’t already made the shift; are not already strategists; are still reluctant to embrace social media; or are still functioning as wordsmiths, editors, and filters between the company and its audiences, they may be at risk of finding themselves suddenly obsolete. While the sample of CEOs included in the research is small, and perhaps not
  3. 3. Preface representative of your CEO, the findings suggest momentum. The shift that has come gradually, reluctantly, is now gaining speed. For senior communicators whose CEOs aren’t yet there, it may be time to take the initiative, to proactively push for change, rather than waiting for leaders to realize they need more from their communications and risk them believing you’re not up to the challenge. For those leading large, well-established communication teams, built on the suc-cessful models of the past, it may be time to re-evaluate the entire function, and begin developing new models that will better meet the needs of the business. Reading this report—finding that CEOs want more from communicators than they may have in the past—should spur us to action. Let’s not let it be the CEO complaining that the communication team “just doesn’t get it.” —Barbara Gibson, ABC A VIEW FROM THE TOP 4
  4. 4. Forward Successful leaders are defined by many qualities and characteristics. They cultivate a strong sense of culture and a clear vision, and they define and communicate the strategic direction while always looking ahead toward the growth of the organization. From Fortune 500 companies to nonprofit organizations and start-ups, the degree to which corporate leaders embody and execute these strengths invariably determines the success of the organization itself. And, while each senior executive brings his or her own unique set of characteristics to the organization, a single core competency is critical to any leader in any environment: communication. Excellence in communication is directly tied to strong leadership and operational success. The power to inspire and motivate internal and external audiences—in good times and bad—unifying stakeholders in support of corporate goals and objectives is critical. Good communication should inspire action that aligns with the organization’s goals. Marketwire is in the business of communication. Every day we enable conver-sations among media, investors and consumers, and across ever-expanding social networks. Technological change has increased the number and type of channels that are available to reach and engage different constituencies, yet the tenets of good communication remain today what they have been for decades: clarity, consistency and context of message. Throughout this study, you’ll read about insights and best practices from forward-thinking business leaders whose companies represent such diverse indus-tries as consumer electronics, diamonds and groceries. What you’ll discover is that there are differences in the way CEOs and executive management approach and utilize various means of communication—from tweets to town hall meet-ings— but resounding similarities in their appreciation of the importance of communication as a driver of organizational success, and recognition of the keys to effective communication. James C. Humes, author and former U.S. presidential speechwriter, once said, “The art of communication is the language of leadership.” This quote is an appropriate segue into the pages ahead because it relates directly to another of the study’s findings: that successful communication most often occurs when senior communication professionals are given “a seat at the table” and considered as strategic partners. Marketwire and IABC share a commitment to communication excellence, and we are proud to support the IABC Research Foundation as sponsors of this valuable contribution in support of organizational effectiveness. Michael Nowlan President & CEO Marketwire
  5. 5. 1 Executive Summary The IABC Research Foundation contracted with Shugoll Research to conduct interviews with senior executives from large companies around the world to better understand the role of corporate communication from the perspective of chief executive offi cers (CEOs), presidents and managing directors. Study participants were primarily current executives, but three had recently retired. Twenty in-depth telephone interviews were conducted between 10 March 2011 and 10 June 2011. Participants were: 4 From companies representing a mix of industries, including manufacturing, retail, fi nance, health care, technology and entertainment. 4 From companies with annual revenues of approximately US$1 billion or more. 4 Extremely involved in communicating with all key constituencies for their orga-nization.
  6. 6. Executive Summary Study Participants George Barrett Chairman and CEO Cardinal Health (Health care) United States Philip Barton CEO De Beers Consolidated Mines, Limited (Mining) South Africa Richard Bowden Managing Director Bupa Australia (Health care) Australia Ann Buller President and CEO Centennial College (Education) Canada Ignacio Bustamante CEO Hochschild Mining (Mining) Peru John Derrick Former Chairman, CEO and President Potomac Electric Power Company (Energy) United States Brian Dunn Former CEO* Best Buy (Retail) United States Barry Griswell Former Chairman and CEO Principal Financial Group (Finance) United States Mahendra Gursahani CEO Standard Chartered Bank (Finance) Philippines Christie Hefner Former Chairman and CEO Playboy Enterprises Inc. (Entertainment/Publishing) United States Hans Hickler CEO, Asia Pacific Agility (Logistics) Hong Kong David Hunke President and Publisher USA TODAY (Media) United States Anthony Marino President and CEO Baytex Energy Corpora-tion (Energy) Canada Eric Morrison Former CEO** The Canadian Press (Media) Canada Kate Paul President and CEO Delta Dental of Colorado (Health care) United States Mark Price Managing Director Waitrose (Supermarkets) United Kingdom G.R.K. Reddy Chairman and Managing Director MARG Group (Infrastructure development) India Carlos Sepulveda President and CEO Interstate Batteries (Batteries) United States Greg Stewart President and CEO Farm Credit Canada (Finance) Canada William Swanson/ Pam Wickham Chairman and CEO/vice president of corporate affairs and communications Raytheon (Defense) United States *At the time of the interview, Brian Dunn was still with Best Buy. **At the time of the interview, Eric Morrison was still with The Canadian Press. A VIEW FROM THE TOP 7
  7. 7. Executive Summary Key Findings Background When organizational leaders were asked to describe their top business challenges, four broad themes emerged: 1. Growth in uncertain economic times 2. Adapting to change 3. Attracting and retaining employees 4. Communication The Role of Corporate Communication Senior executives believe corporate communi-cation is a core competency that plays a critical role in supporting business strategy. All study participants viewed communication as a key component to both their organization’s overall success in the marketplace and to their indi-vidual effectiveness as leaders. Developing, honing, communicating, and executing the organization’s image and busi-ness strategies are seen as the most important responsibilities of a corporate leader. The Demand for Corporate Communication Most constituents demand more communica-tion today than ever before, in part due to rapid advances in technology. However, there is also an increased demand for communica-tion simply because there is more scrutiny of business and business leaders in general. Some leaders say that employees are apply-ing the most pressure on them to communi-cate more effectively and more often. In fact, they find internal communication to be more important than ever before and think that it needs to be more frequent. Keys to Effective Communication The following are the most common themes that emerged in response to the question, “What are the keys to effective communica-tion?” 4 Transparency, authenticity, honesty, consistency, clarity and credibility are the main-stays of effective communica-tion. 4 Successful communication most often occurs when senior communication professionals have “a seat at the table” and are considered strategic partners. 4 Communication should be personal, frequent and suc-cinct. 4 Communication is a two-way process. It is important for leaders to solicit feedback from constituents, listen to it and act on it. 4 Good communication is tai-lored to the specific audiences being addressed. A one-size-fits- all communication strategy is generally not effective. 4 The most successful com-municators are knowledgeable about their specific business as well as the broader industry in which they work. A VIEW FROM THE TOP 8
  8. 8. Executive Summary Understanding the Role of Communication Professionals The primary responsibility of communication professionals is to help their leaders identify who needs to be informed, how they should be informed and who should inform them. Ultimately, the biggest challenge for commu-nication professionals is to do whatever it takes to thoroughly prepare senior executives for all types of communication in any setting. Addi-tionally, however, communication professionals should: 4 Become familiar with their leader’s communication style and his or her priorities and expectations. 4 Be proactive and knowledge-able about their industry, their company, their audiences, and related issues. 4 Have a strong command of language (both verbal and writ-ten) so that they understand subtleties and how to help their leader convey complex thoughts simply and directly. 4 Take initiative, anticipate issues and respond promptly. 4 Be honest with the CEO/presi-dent/ managing director when providing feedback on their communication abilities. Both positive feedback and con-structive criticism are needed. The Most Useful Tools for Communicating with Various Constituents Executives often prefer face-to-face communi-cation over other methods so that they can see and interpret body language, get a feel for the vibe of the room and create a personal interac-tion with constituents. Unfortunately, it is not possible for leaders to meet and communicate with all constituents in person. As such, other communications, such as videos and webcasts/ podcasts, are necessary. Although social media is still a relatively new tool for most large organizations, it is widely recognized as a powerful medium that has immediate impact. As a result, leaders think their peers should become comfortable with social media. However, social media can be burdensome to today’s corporate leaders, and executives think it must be used thought-fully. Social media needs to be carefully man-aged, and leaders tend to rely on the advice of their communication team when using it. A VIEW FROM THE TOP 9
  9. 9. detailed Findings The CEOs involved in this study were asked to describe their top business challenges over the next three to fi ve years. Four broad themes emerged from their answers: 1. Growth in uncertain economic times 2. Adapting to change 3. Attracting and retaining employees 4. Communication THE CHALLEngE And IMPORTAnCE OF COMMUnICATIOn Increased Demand for Communication Why do CEOs view corporate communication as one of their top business challenges? The number one reason is an increased demand for communication. As a result of changes in technology, information travels faster than ever before. For example, a message can be broadcast almost instantaneously via the Internet. This has led to a signifi cantly more informed audi-ence that tends to form its own opinions prior to the release of any offi cial corporate messages. “It [communications] has changed dra-matically. I think as we’ve changed with technology, people are a lot more informed of what is happening and have formed their own perceptions and their own ideas. You’ve got to be visible; you’ve got to be there.” —Philip Barton, De Beers 2
  10. 10. Detailed Findings “Whether you’re in politics, business, or NGOs…the channels through which you can communicate have become more ubiquitous, so whether it be on the televi-sion or social media through the written or spoken word, there are more demands on you being able to set out your position. There’s an audience that’s now hungry 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to ques-tion and to probe. You have to be pre-pared to respond to that. The demands have never been greater in terms of expectations in you being able to deliver a message and an answer.” —Mark Price, Waitrose The volume of information that is not only available to but also constantly bombarding peo-ple today often results in information overload. They need help parsing all of it. Enter the senior executive. These leaders have become arbiters of communication who help key stakeholders iden-tify which messages are most critical. “There is so much information out there, I think people struggle to know what they should pay attention to and what really is relevant and what matters. So the role of leaders in communicating the issues that matter, I think, has increased a lot.” —Greg Stewart, Farm Credit Canada “In this world, where there is so much information available everywhere, we need to make sure that we communicate appropriately to distinguish ourselves from the rest. We need to ensure that what they receive from the company are the most relevant, and important, and critical messages we want to convey.” —Ignacio Bustamante, Hochschild Mining This increased demand for communication from CEOs is also due to an increase in scru-tiny of business and business leaders. As a result, constituents want reassurance, often in the form of more information. “The demand [for communications] has really increased because I guess there’s more scrutiny of business and more scru-tiny of leaders, so there’s a real expecta-tion for you to be out and about and up front.” —Richard Bowden, Bupa Australia “Whether you like it or not, a CEO has got to be on their feet more, got to be available more. And I am finding as well, got to have a variety of different ways in which I communicate.” —Richard Bowden, Bupa Australia A VIEW FROM THE TOP 11
  11. 11. Detailed Findings Another contributor to the desire for more communication is change. The rapid change in the world today leads to change in business, which leads to changes in strategy, which leads to the need for more communication. “If there’s a lot of change in the indus-try, there’s a lot of change management, which means there is a lot of need to communicate.” —Eric Morrison, formerly of The Canadian Press Many leaders see the demand for more com-munication as a positive thing. It’s good for busi-ness when constituents want more communica-tion because it suggests they are more engaged with the organization. With regard to internal constituents, a more informed workforce gener-ally leads to a more engaged workforce, which, in turn, leads to better performance. The Constituencies Demanding More Communication Most leaders reported that all of their constitu-encies are demanding more communication. Shareholders, in particular, want a great deal of information and continually seek confirmation that they have made the right decision to invest in a particular organization. “Shareholders can never get enough com-munication. They want to understand a company’s leadership and where that com-pany is going. They use this [information] to decide whether or not they trust man-agement. Strategic and frequent commu-nication to shareholders helps reinforce that you are a competent leader.” —George Barrett, Cardinal Health Customers are also demanding more com-munication from leaders. Today, customers face increasing pressure due to the recent economic recession, and they constantly wonder what the future holds. They often look to corporate lead-ers for answers or solutions, if not reassurance. “Customers today are experiencing the same pressures and wondering what the future is going to look like. They want to hear from us. As a group of stakehold-ers, they have a high demand for com-munication.” —George Barrett, Cardinal Health The economic recession has also driven reg-ulators and politicians to become more active in business issues than ever before. “We are having to communicate regularly with the regulators and the politicians because they, in many regards, hold the key to how we might be conducting busi-ness in the future.” —Mahendra Gursahani, Standard Chartered Bank A VIEW FROM THE TOP 12
  12. 12. detailed Findings Some leaders suggest that employees are applying the most pressure on them to com-municate better and more often. In fact, inter-nal communication is considered more impor-tant than ever and needs to be more frequent. In a time of constant change and uncertainty as a result of a tough economy, employees are demanding more from their leaders. And because of advances in technology, employees are learning more from outside sources and looking to their leaders for confi rmation. In general, they have more questions and want more answers. “The biggest pressure is probably coming from the internal side. There is defi nitely the need and the importance to commu-nicate more at that level. With the new communication channels and the social networks, people have much more infor-mation from the outside than they had in the past. They know more about the com-pany than ever before through the Inter-net and other media. As a result, they now have more questions and require more answers.” —Ignacio Bustamante, Hochschild Mining “At a time of enormous change, with an economy that has gone through just tremendous pressure, I could probably spend every day meeting with employ-ees. And I think it’s necessary and it’s appropriate.” —George Barrett, Cardinal Health In conclusion, it is essential that key constit-uents be “on the same page” regarding the ulti-mate direction of an organization so that every-one can work toward a common goal. And the person these constituencies need to hear from the most? The CEO. A VIEW FROM THE TOP 13
  13. 13. Communication: A Leadership Competency The executives who participated in this study view communication as an essential leadership competency. Effective communication comes in many different forms via many different styles. Regardless of the form or style, however, the best and most successful leaders are also good com-municators. “If you think about somebody [who] winds up being chief executive offi cer, what is it that gets them there princi-pally? And I would say it’s the ability to communicate, and so you develop that over the years and it becomes part of —John Derrick, formerly of Potomac Electric Power Company “Communication skills are enormously important, although I think they come in very different forms. People commu-nicate in different ways. And you have probably seen equally effective com-municators with extraordinarily different styles. Being an effective communicator is critical, regardless of your style.” —George Barrett, Cardinal Health 3 your persona, your personality, but that’s really, I think, the fundamental role of a chief executive offi cer.”
  14. 14. Communication: A Leadership Competency These leaders also view communication as a top business priority. “…my role is certainly to be a leader in communicating... And for us, communi-cation is really a leadership competency. At FCC it’s one of our five leadership prin-ciples. Managers at all levels within our organization and certainly the executive, as well, are evaluated on how they com-municate in their annual performance reviews.” —Greg Stewart, Farm Credit Canada “Yes [communication is a leadership competency], and it will stop everything in its place if not practiced. You’ve got a lot of constituents. You’ve got external customers. You’ve probably got investors. In our case, we have the entire market-place of audiences and the most impor-tant of all are our co-workers, whose jobs and livelihood are all tied to whether or not you’re going to make the right bet. So the linkage between all of this and the pressure to be very open and honest is enormous. It takes a lot of time.” —David Hunke, USA TODAY “Communication is a huge part of lead-ership. Communication is the dominant gene of my leadership.” —Hans Hickler, Agility “It’s [communications] going to be even more front and center and even more valued. Companies should not make the mistake of thinking of it as a cost center that they should try and squeeze in order to improve margins because I really think it’s a critical strategic tool.” —Christie Hefner, formerly of Playboy Enterprises Inc. Communication is vital to an organization’s success in large part because it ensures that all constituents are aligned with the corporate strategy, goals and objectives. “It’s very, very important, especially because we are multinational across 70 countries, and must make sure that everyone—roughly 85,000 people that work with us around the world in those 70 countries—is aligned to the central messages and to the central objectives. It is the only way that people can get a sense of belonging.” —Mahendra Gursahani, Standard Chartered Bank “Employees need to know how they fit into the bigger picture. We are a team-based culture. I want them to be aware of and knowledgeable and passionate about our strategic initiatives and our company’s priorities so they can implement them, which, in turn, will foster good customer relations.” —Hans Hickler, Agility A VIEW FROM THE TOP 15
  15. 15. Communication: A Leadership Competency “[One of our biggest challenges is] to make sure that the company strategy is understood from the factory floor to the corner office.” —William Swanson, Raytheon “The distance between what happens when the customer walks in and the cor-ner office can be great and vast. And it’s so important for people in between those two points to have the context…of how we’re thinking about the business.” —Brian Dunn, formerly of Best Buy “I’m lucky to be surrounded by people that are wickedly passionate about what we do, and I’ve got to tell them where we’re headed, they’ve got to tell me whether or not we’re doing a good job of connecting and selling that, and God, we’ve got to care.” —David Hunke, USA TODAY “[It is my] responsibility to make sure that all the stakeholders feel that they are listened to and that they understand the key messages.” —Mark Price, Waitrose The need for all constituents to be aligned to a common goal, and working together to achieve it, makes it vitally important to com-municate effectively with different audiences. “Effective communications…with busi-ness partners, with consumers and with our other stakeholders was potentially a very important element of being success-ful. If you’re going to effectively engage any one of those groups of stakeholders in a partnership model, then critical to the success of that is a thoughtful com-munications strategy.” —Christie Hefner, formerly of Playboy Enterprises Inc. “People tend to underestimate the impor-tance of communication. Once the com-pany sets clear objectives or messages, the more it communicates this objective or message, the more effective it will be because people will understand much better what you are doing, where you are heading. You will immediately have all the resources that you can imagine aligned with your goals.” —Ignacio Bustamante, Hochschild Mining A VIEW FROM THE TOP 16
  16. 16. Communication: A Leadership Competency Constituents tend to look to “the top” to get important messages; therefore, all CEOs must be comfortable communicating with both inter-nal and external audiences. CEOs must also be visible and available. “The fact of the matter is, people look to the CEO particularly in times of diffi culty for stability, for a calm word, for the truth, for reassurance, and you know it’s not a time to…go into your offi ce and shut the door and try to fi gure it out. You’ve got to be out there with the troops. You’ve got to be talking to them. They need somebody there to help them understand what’s going on. And I would say…it needs to be that way during good times as well, not just in diffi cult times.” —Barry Griswell, formerly of Principal Financial Group “You, as the leader…can’t just sit in your offi ce making these plans, you know, and then hope that business is going to grab onto this and run with it. People are look-ing at you together with your leadership team to get the message. They want the message from the top.” —Philip Barton, De Beers It is critical for a senior executive to be able to communicate at every level from the factory fl oor, to the investor, to the legislator/regulator, to the media, to the customer and to the general public. “…my responsibility is to be able to com-municate at every level. If I can’t go on the factory fl oor and have a one-on-one conversation on what they’re doing, I’m toast…. And I have to be able to com-municate with the engineers. I have to be able to communicate with fi nance, and contracts, and HR. For our custom-ers, I have to be able to communicate an understanding of our products and services. I also have to describe what we do to nontechnical people, for example, ‘boiling it down’ for investors as to why they should invest in the company. So the point of it is that I’ve got to be com-fortable from the fl oor, to the investor, to the customer.” —William Swanson, Raytheon The leaders interviewed in this study under-stand that different stakeholders often pre-fer different methods of communication. It is important to consider both the preferences of the audience and the objectives of the organi-zation when deciding how best to communi-cate. Executives simply cannot default to their natural or preferred method of communication. Instead, they must adapt to individual audi-ences while continuing to be authentic. A VIEW FROM THE TOP 17
  17. 17. Communication: A Leadership Competency “Well, you have to fi nd a way to get every-body to hear what you’re trying to say. And certainly everybody needs to feel that they’re heard. So that means you have to talk to all audiences…. You have to have diverse methods and styles to make sure that everybody gets a chance to hear. You can’t just use your natural preference.... The audience is very diverse, in age, and style…. But you still need to be who you are…I need to come across as real and authentic….” —Greg Stewart, Farm Credit Canada According to the study participants, the most senior executive of an organization is the embodiment of the organization’s soul, voice and brand. Developing and honing an organi-zation’s image and strategy, and then communi-cating that image and executing that strategy, are some of the most important roles of a cor-porate leader. “…my job description even says I’m the principal spokesperson for the com-pany.” — Kate Paul, Delta Dental of Colorado “I am the offi cial spokesperson for the company so my role as communicator is a key part of my regular activities. It is a very important role, and there are two prongs to it. The fi rst one is the role of internal communicator, to make sure that we properly convey within our orga-nization what our view is regarding the future, our strategic plan, what we see as the main challenges and opportunities for the company. And the second one is external communication, which involves investors, analysts, and the press.” —Ignacio Bustamante, Hochschild Mining “I think that it’s one of my main respon-sibilities. I think that forming a brand for the company, forming an image, and promulgating that image and message is one of the most important things that I can do.” —Anthony Marino, Baytex Energy “I think the most important thing a CEO does is communicate with people—every-one who touches the company, inside and out. I think communication matters a lot. And I also think that as CEO, I set the direction, the strategic direction for the company. But I also better serve as the key spokesperson, the chief morale offi cer, and cheerleader, all of those things because you’ve got to keep it mov-ing. And oftentimes I see companies set sail in a direction and then we don’t hear from the CEO again for a long time. And I think that’s not a good deal. But I’ve got to also tell you, in a company the size of mine, I rely on our team of communica-tion pros. They live, breathe, eat it. And I know I can’t talk to everyone, but they help me reach just about everyone.” —Brian Dunn, formerly of Best Buy A VIEW FROM THE TOP 18
  18. 18. Communication: A Leadership Competency “I am the person where it starts and probably fi nishes in terms of the commu-nications.” —Richard Bowden, Bupa Australia Communication is also vital in creating an organization’s culture. The tone or attitude about communication for an entire organization is set by the CEO/president/managing director and other senior leaders. “Communication is of paramount impor-tance in establishing, monitoring and enforcing that leadership culture.” —Carlos Sepulveda, Interstate Batteries “Communications need to refl ect the cor-porate culture I want to create.” —Hans Hickler, Agility “The attitude about communications, which in our case was one of openness and proactive engagement, gets set at the top.” —Christie Hefner, formerly of Playboy Enterprises Inc. A VIEW FROM THE TOP 19
  19. 19. The Senior Executive’s Role as a Communicator 4 Senior executives believe that their role as chief communicator is to listen and then champion, motivate and simplify the messages that need to be conveyed to their audiences. Specifi cally, their responsibilities include: 4 Communicating the values of the organization and champi-oning corporate priorities. It is a leader’s job to be the most vocal supporter of the compa-ny’s vision or mission. Cham-pioning corporate priorities in both good times and bad is an essential role for any leader. “Leaders really need to create the condi-tions for communication by, number one, listening. And by speaking with clarity, being authentic…they need to be encour-aged to communicate about challenging issues. And it’s critical that they cham-pion the corporate priorities because that’s really the only way you can get everybody lined up behind [them].” —Greg Stewart, Farm Credit Canada 4 Motivating people to achieve a common goal and present-ing a vision for the future. A CEO/president/managing director is the organization’s primary narrator. This execu-tive conveys the company’s story and is responsible for “connecting the dots” so that all constituents understand the broader context and are aligned to the future direction of the organization.
  20. 20. The Senior Executive’s Role as a Communicator “It’s about vision and having your sights on a future place. You have to demon-strate an absolute resolve to do whatever you have to do to get there.” —David Hunke, USA TODAY “I think the CEO must be the storyteller and I link that to the capacity to moti-vate, inspire, listen and engage. I think it’s critical. For me, sending out a memo, an email, even doing a speech that sim-ply lays out the facts, but doesn’t con-nect the dots, doesn’t have everyone in that room thinking, OK, based on what I’ve just been told, what would I do dif-ferently— fails. How do you engage? I’m saying storyteller, not in a fictional sense, but in the sense of connecting the dots for people, helping them understand all the different components of the insti-tution, helping people understand the broader context. I do think championing change, and taking it to the streets is absolutely key. Part of my role inside and outside of the institution is to make sure people are buying in.” —Ann Buller, Centennial College “You must have a point of view about where you’re going. People don’t want you to just be smart or knowledgeable. They want you to have a sense of the big-ger picture: where are we going, what is it all about? This is something I also want from my leaders.” —George Barrett, Cardinal Health “Provide the context of the messages. I think putting context around why the company is doing something or not doing something, explaining it before you actu-ally say the message is important.” —Mahendra Gursahani, Standard Chartered Bank 4 Simplifying the complicated. Not every constituent is an industry expert. A leader must communicate using language that all audiences can under-stand. “We come from a very technical industry where there is a lot of technical jargon that we speak all day long. We tend to forget that not everybody understands this jargon. We need to make a very con-scious effort to ensure that we communi-cate using words and messages that are understood by everybody. Otherwise, our messages will get lost.” —Ignacio Bustamante, Hochschild Mining “You have to be able to take highly com-plex, technically challenging issues, policy approaches, and you have to be able to put them into clear language, making it relevant for the people you’re speaking to.” —Ann Buller, Centennial College A VIEW FROM THE TOP 21
  21. 21. 5 The Elements of Effective Communication The CEOs interviewed for this study had a lot to say about effective communication. According to them, transparency, authenticity, honesty, consistency, clarity and credibility are the mainstays of effective communication. Leaders who deliver on these qualities when communicating with their constituents are generally trusted and successful. Those who also come across as approachable are even more respected. Executives believe that effective communication must be a two-way process. In addition to sending messages, they must also be able to receive them. This involves effective listening and providing a forum so that constituents can express their views and ask questions. Finally, effective communication is tailored to the audience to which it is directed, and is fre-quent, to the point, and timely. “I think sometimes the emphasis will vary depending on who you are commu-nicating with and what the message is that you want to get across, but I think that consistency, transparency and cred-ibility are the main key issues. Transpar-ency and consistency will always aid you, even if it is a diffi cult message you’ve got to convey.” —Philip Barton, De Beers “Communicate with clarity and also with transparency.” —G.R.K. Reddy, MARG Group
  22. 22. The Elements of Effective Communication Most executives agreed that prior to any sort of communication with key constituents, it is impor-tant to prepare thoroughly, although unscripted communication is seen as more authentic. Many work from some sort of outline that they’ve developed with their communication team because it is important to have a message framework to reference. However, they tend to use these outlines simply as “talking points” in order to come across as honest, genuine and unrehearsed. “I think as much as possible; it [commu-nication] needs to be unscripted and as authentic as possible.” —David Hunke, USA TODAY “What I fi nd very useful is to have a paper aid and use that as a guide, but keep it in a conversational manner rather than reading. I put myself in their seat, and if I listen to somebody speak from a script, I get the feeling that it’s something that is not natural. And I personally get bored when I hear a person read for too long. If it’s more conversational, with continu-ous eye contact, it will be more powerful for the audience. I think it comes across much better.” —Ignacio Bustamante, Hochschild Mining “People know it’s unscripted, which has another benefi t, because they know somebody hasn’t prepped me for some answer to a question.” —William Swanson, Raytheon “For me, the more I use a script the less genuine I feel. So I prefer to work from a basic outline or maybe a few notes. There are times where it is quite appropriate to use a script, but I will labor over that script to ensure it sounds authentic and conversational.” —George Barrett, Cardinal Health “Openness and honesty are vital. Some messages that come from the heart are far better than scripted messages, to my mind. There is a place for scripted mes-sages, but I think it is far better and far more credible when you are able to com-municate that you actually mean some-thing.” —Mahendra Gursahani, Standard Chartered Bank A VIEW FROM THE TOP 23
  23. 23. The Elements of Effective Communication To be effective, you must deliver a consistent message to all constituencies. “I’m a huge believer in consistency in message. I think people know. I mean, you don’t realize just how much they remember what you said the first time and the second time. And once you start wavering without good reason, I think you’re in trouble.” —Barry Griswell, formerly of Principal Financial Group Though it may be necessary to communicate the same message using different communica-tion channels, it is important that the underly-ing messages be the same. “Communicate in many ways. Under-stand that not everyone likes to get infor-mation in the same way. You might need to communicate the same message in 10 different ways.” —Hans Hickler, Agility Leaders agree that all messages must be cred-ible. They must also be clear, simple and believ-able. Without credibility, communication will not be taken seriously; therefore, leaders must be honest and knowledgeable about their sub-ject matter. “Tell people the way it is. I think people can deal with it. I think in that manner, being consistent and being transparent, you are now building credibility. I think credibility is key to communication.” —Philip Barton, De Beers “Everybody can pretty much identify communication that is clear, as opposed to the use of language to confuse or obfuscate.” —Christie Hefner, formerly of Playboy Enterprises Inc. “I believe at the end of the day, giving the message that is honest and accurate, and heartfelt, goes a long way.” —Barry Griswell, formerly of Principal Financial Group “You’ve got to have a clear message and it’s got to be as simple as possible. Clar-ity of the development of the message [is important]. If you don’t have clarity around the development of the message, then the delivery is going to be hope-lessly confused.” —John Derrick, formerly of Potomac Electric Power Company A VIEW FROM THE TOP 24
  24. 24. The Elements of Effective Communication The CEOs said that it was important not to underestimate their audiences’ ability to see something as disingenuous. While transpar-ency should always be a priority, it is even more important to be open and honest when the mes-sage being communicated is a diffi cult one. “Here in our company, people want to know the truth, no matter how tough it might be. And leaders have a tendency to sugar coat. People don’t want that. They can see through that in a heartbeat. I encourage people here to get the hard message out, get it out early, give people the facts, and they’ll judge you based on that.” —William Swanson, Raytheon “It’s got to be authentic. It’s got to be something that I would actually say. The strength is that I believe so deeply in what it is I’m talking about. I have to be authentic. I think in this day and age of transparency, if it’s not real, it gets thrown in the junk pile really fast.” —Brian Dunn, formerly of Best Buy “Employees are people fi rst, and I want to connect or come across as real to them.” —Hans Hickler, Agility “I think it starts with trust, and I think you can earn trust based on how forth-coming you are with people. You know, trust is rather like a brand, in that you sort of have a bank of goodwill. If you’re only withdrawing from it and never depos-iting into it, you know you will empty your bank account.” —Christie Hefner, formerly of Playboy Enterprises Inc. Communication should be personal. Employees want to know their leader cares, that he or she is passionate about the business, and attempts to understand the issues they face. The same holds true for other stakehold-ers. It is important for a leader to be humble and to demonstrate accountability. The most respected corporate leaders tend to be those who are knowledgeable and competent as well as approachable. These senior executives are self-aware and willing to take responsibility for their business decisions. “As the CEO you’ve got to be open, you’ve got to be honest. People have to know you care. They want to know you’re human…that you understand the issues that they’re facing. They’re looking for some passion from their leaders.” —William Swanson, Raytheon A VIEW FROM THE TOP 25
  25. 25. The Elements of Effective Communication “Managing change requires creating a personal connection with your employ-ees. It needs to feel personal to them. So my role as a communicator is to make it personal…to make the case for our orga-nization about who we are, where we’re going, and each person’s role in taking us there.” —George Barrett, Cardinal Health “Today it’s not only intellectual com-munication, it should be communica-tion which is able to infl uence and [you should be] passionate about whatever you are doing.” —G.R.K. Reddy, MARG Group “[They want] humility. I think we want our leaders to be incredibly knowledge-able and confi dent. But we also look for them to be human. I think humility is part of that, and I think self-awareness is a necessary ingredient.” —George Barrett, Cardinal Health Good communication is tailored to the specifi c audiences being addressed. A one-size-fi ts-all strategy is not effective. For instance, employees don’t need the same information as investors or regulators. In addition, different people process information in different ways, and not all audiences have access to the same communication vehicles. “Understand your audience. Have spe-cifi c objectives. Tailor both your content as well as the delivery style to that audi-ence and what you think their needs and anticipated expectations are.” —Kate Paul, Delta Dental of Colorado “Once you have a clear message that you want to convey, you need to make sure that you communicate it in the best pos-sible manner, taking into account who the receiver of the message is. The way you communicate that message, and the level of detail that you are giving have to be appropriate to each of the different audiences.” —Ignacio Bustamante, Hochschild Mining “You’re trying to deliver to each of them a product that meets their needs. So you have to take the broad constituen-cies separately, and even then you have to break them down wherever possible, all the way down to the individual that you’re trying to communicate with. And you have to look at the objectives of that institution, that entity, that person, and how can…we…meet their needs?” —Anthony Marino, Baytex Energy A VIEW FROM THE TOP 26
  26. 26. The Elements of Effective Communication It is a leader’s responsibility, as the primary communicator, to be sensitive to cultural dif-ferences, and to use appropriate language. Often, company jargon and other messages do not translate well with diverse audiences that include people from various cultural, linguistic and socioeconomic backgrounds. It is the lead-er’s role, in tandem with the communication team, to find a way to simplify and translate important messages so that they reach diverse audiences around the world, if necessary. “We talk a lot about respectful communi-cation; about understanding diversity of verbal and written communication skills of people from all kinds of linguistic, ethno-cultural and socioeconomic back-grounds.” —Ann Buller, Centennial College Effective communication must be a two-way process. It is important that leaders solicit feedback from constituents, listen to it and then act on it. Many study participants stated that listening is one of the most important aspects of successful communication. Every organiza-tion should have mechanisms in place to solicit feedback from constituents, whether it be via social media, formal feedback processes (e.g., employee surveys), or more informal town hall question-and-answer sessions. “Communication is a two-way process. You are happy to give the message, but you are also happy to listen. I think more important is what you heard, to take that back, listen to it, and then act on it.” —Philip Barton, De Beers “The listening is more important to me than the speaking.” —William Swanson, Raytheon “What I find vitally important is to really open up for questions because I know I have things on my mind, my team has things on their mind, but what’s on everybody else’s mind is what you need to get to.” —Richard Bowden, Bupa Australia “…you’ve got to listen, to make sure that people feel they are heard. And [lead-ers] need to be clear in their response. And that means that it may not always be whatever everybody wants.... But they expect and deserve to hear the truth in a clear and straightforward manner.” —Greg Stewart, Farm Credit Canada A VIEW FROM THE TOP 27
  27. 27. The Elements of Effective Communication Effective communication is frequent but succinct. It is important to communicate often because key stakeholders can never get enough information. However, because everyone is busy and there is so much information already out there, it is important that messages are short and to-the-point so that they are not ignored. Additionally, it is important to get messages out early and in a timely fashion so that they are relevant, and so that the key constituents get important messages directly from “the top” as opposed to from other, less reliable sources. “You can’t over-communicate. No matter how often you think you are getting the message out, you cannot over-communi-cate. It’s just almost impossible, particu-larly in times of diffi culty.” —Barry Griswell, formerly of Principal Financial Group “Do it. In other words, communicate more, you can’t do it enough.” —Hans Hickler, Agility “People are busy. They don’t have time to read pages and pages, and they want it succinct, they want it to the point, they want it honest.” —William Swanson (and Pam Wickham), Raytheon In general, the executives interviewed for this study agreed that the major elements of good communication are the same around the world. However, messages can have different meanings in different countries so success-ful international communication can be quite challenging. When communicating glob-ally, it is important to build alignment across disparate markets, create value with messages that transfer across countries and leverage best practices from one market to another. “Communications is a unique challenge as we start thinking about being an increasingly global company. How do you message your purpose? Does that have different nuances in different markets? How do you build alignment across dis-parate markets? How do you create value and transfer expertise from one place in the world to another? How do you dupli-cate best practices and educate others on those best practices?” —George Barrett, Cardinal Health The most important aspect of global com-munication is to ensure that messages are rel-evant to each individual market. Many leaders suggest working with local managers or profes-sionals who understand the local people and environment to adapt messages. A VIEW FROM THE TOP 28
  28. 28. The Elements of Effective Communication “Think global, act local.” —Christie Hefner, formerly of Playboy Enterprises Inc. “You do want the consistency of the mes-sage to be delivered across many geogra-phies. [This is challenging because] they all speak slightly different languages and have slightly different interpretations to issues [so it’s a problem] if you allow too much fl exibility in the message. To a degree, it has become regimented because it has to work across very, very different geographies and different cul-tures. Within that, I think there is room for managers in those countries who are communicating that message to actually draw the relevance of those messages to the local environment. I think that is vitally important.” —Mahendra Gursahani, Standard Chartered Bank According to many of the study participants, an organizational factor that contributes signifi - cantly to successful communication is allow-ing the senior communication professional to have “a seat at the table” and considering him or her to be a strategic partner. When the com-munication professional is an integral part of the leadership team responsible for creating and implementing corporate strategy, he or she has a deeper understanding of the business and, therefore, can better assist the CEO/president/ managing director in understanding the target audience, crafting appropriate messages and determining how to best deliver those messages. Additionally, leveraging the communication professional as a strategic partner means that he or she can be held accountable, in part, for the success and failure of the company’s communi-cation strategy. “I think you have to let your communi-cators inside…the tent and that they shouldn’t be an afterthought. They should be…part of the strategic discus-sion all the way through because I think it enriches the narrative that comes out of it. I am very, very, very committed to the notion that the communications team doesn’t come in at the end and say, ‘Here, we’re going to communicate this.’ I think they need to be part of developing the strategic plan and then the execution and the communication around it.” —Brian Dunn, formerly of Best Buy A VIEW FROM THE TOP 29
  29. 29. The Elements of Effective Communication “You’ve got to let them [communicators] inside. They’ve truly got to know what’s going on and it can’t be FYI or you know, let’s dig down at the end of a process and get them up to speed. They have to understand fundamentally what’s going on here.” —David Hunke, USA TODAY “It’s very important for the leader of the communications function to be involved in pretty much every aspect of the deci-sion- making of the company.… They’re going to have to convey it, at some point. And so having that voice at the table is important. In order to capably articulate messaging, you need to understand the context around how the message or the idea has been constructed.” —Kate Paul, Delta Dental of Colorado “…The communications leads…have a seat at the table so they are not the second string. Communication can help drive the strategy, not only in the busi-ness, but with your customers, with your branding. And it gives you alignment. When they have a seat at the table, [Pam will tell you] she’s held accountable.” —William Swanson, Raytheon A VIEW FROM THE TOP 30
  30. 30. 6 How Leaders Communicate: The Tools They Use Most leaders agree that corporate communication has changed dramatically over the past few years, primarily as a direct result of advances in technology. “The media by which you communicate are much more numerous today. Places you need to communicate are much more numerous today than they were in the past and much more messy. You can’t package them up and you can’t under-stand them in nice quanta like you used to be able to. And so, consequently, you have got to be prepared to play in that messy new world.” —John Derrick, formerly of Potomac Electric Power Company “With technology, the world has become a very small place, so whatever you say or communicate, just accept that it is going to be generally available to everybody.” —Philip Barton, De Beers “I think the communication landscape is changing very fast and it is a totally dif-ferent world which we see as we move forward.” —G.R.K. Reddy, MARG Group Despite the new communication tools that have resulted from signifi cant technological advances, executives believe that nothing can replace face-to-face communication and that constituents still crave personal interaction. A leader must be visible to all key stakeholders on a regular basis. Additionally, the rapid advances in technology, which have contributed to a loss of face-to-face interaction, have encouraged audi-ences to look for a new sense of candor and per-sonal connection in conversation.
  31. 31. How Leaders Communicate: The Tools They Use “What has changed is that people both inside the company and outside the com-pany are looking for a new sense of integ-rity and honesty in conversation.” —Mahendra Gursahani, Standard Chartered Bank “…my preferred method is always face-to- face. I think there’s an intimacy to that…it’s easier to convey a shared sense of purpose in my view.” —Brian Dunn, formerly of Best Buy “Ironically, with all the technological change I think we’re coming back to people needing face-to-face interaction and needing personal time. I think that human interaction has been lost in so many of the ways that we communicate, that the need for personal interaction has increased. I think the ability to use tech-nology in new and innovative ways is a good thing. The ability to reach the num-ber of people you can reach as quickly as you can—it’s just unbelievable. And I think because truth is relative today (which is a sad thing to say about our society), the printed word is not always trusted. And so, the ability to follow it up with a sort of personal connection is really important.” —Ann Buller, Centennial College “People want to see you; they want to hear it from you and not always via recorded media or whatever. Of all the technology, nothing beats face-to-face communication.” —Philip Barton, De Beers “I want to be face-to-face in a room with virtually every group…. I want to understand instantly the feedback and the sense of chemistry or dynamics in a room. A blog, a videocast, gives me none of this. Also, if we’re not talking about the right subject at the moment, raise your hand and tell me what you want to talk about.” —David Hunke, USA TODAY “I enjoy people. When I get a chance to talk with people, I want to be able to see their faces. I prefer some personal interaction, so I can meet eyes with an audience, read them, and benefi t from their visual feedback or body language. I do this in a variety of ways at Cardinal Health, from town hall meetings to big strategy sessions, to going down to the cafeteria and plunking myself down at someone’s table and asking about life at Cardinal Health. We also do these things that we call ‘Java with George’ where we invite small groups of employees to have coffee with me and we talk.” —George Barrett, Cardinal Health A VIEW FROM THE TOP 32
  32. 32. How Leaders Communicate: The Tools They Use Face-to-face communication tools used most often by executives include the following: 4 Town hall meetings 4 Strategy sessions 4 Lunch with the CEO (i.e., CEO eats with employees in the cafeteria) 4 Informal coffee chats with the CEO 4 Leadership forums (i.e., periodic gatherings of organizational leaders to discuss challenges and accomplishments, track progress, etc.) “The best thing that I do as a CEO, and I put a lot of time and effort into it and it’s certainly worthwhile, is meet with all of our staff. We have area sales meet-ings once a year in groups of 150, 200, 500, and I talk to all staff. But I also make a point over an 18-month period to get to all staff in their small working groups (between 20 and 50) to meet with them face-to-face. And I talk about a few issues at the outset, but I really leave 45 minutes to an hour just to lis-ten to them and answer questions. And I honestly think it’s the best thing I do as CEO with staff. It gets terrific feed-back. It helps me understand what’s really going on in our organization. And people are much more comfortable in those smaller groups in terms of really talking about issues that are specific to their teams and work groups.” —Greg Stewart, Farm Credit Canada “I believe that the best was face-to-face. And we did a lot of that…I had monthly breakfasts with a random selection of employees…we had quarterly meetings, town halls every quarter or so, where we got a cross-section of employees together in a venue to let them ask questions. Then you can start to layer on some of the technology. So when you have those town hall meetings that maybe have 100 people… then you start to videoconfer-ence it into your remote location, so they can kind of feel like they’re part of that town hall. And maybe move that town hall around to another location and then you videoconference it back to your main campus.” —Barry Griswell, formerly of Principal Financial Group A VIEW FROM THE TOP 33
  33. 33. How Leaders Communicate: The Tools They Use “The fi rst thing I did was initiate an open forum that I just called the CEO Connec-tion. And that was an open invitation to team members to come and to be able to have any questions addressed, on any aspect of anything. Really, totally unfi l-tered, unregulated parameters on any-thing they could ask. And when I started doing that, I did it as a breakfast before work hours, and we just kind of brought a potluck breakfast, various people brought things. But then I found out that some people felt intimidated by asking questions. And I said, ‘Great, no prob-lem.’ Let’s enable them to also submit questions in writing that they fi ll out right there, put it in the basket, and the basket gets passed to me and I don’t know who wrote what.” —Carlos Sepulveda, Interstate Batteries Unfortunately, it is simply logistically impos-sible for leaders to meet and communicate with all constituents in-person. As such, communica-tions such as video, webcasts and podcasts are necessary. “We do some video and some telephonic recorded messages. I think it can be a very useful tool given that we have more than 30,000 people scattered across the world. Of course, it’s never as satisfying as a personal interaction, but I know that it can be useful and effi cient.” —George Barrett, Cardinal Health “They [webcasts] work if they are fresh. If they come off like a produced event, the number of people dialing in and paying attention to it is very, very, very low.” —David Hunke, USA TODAY Other forms of electronic communication include: 4 Informal “fi reside chats” (i.e., video segments that are unscripted and unrehearsed, and available to all employees via the company’s intranet). 4 An internal TV channel. 4 A CEO blog. “Typically I’ve got a formula for it, I don’t make them overly long, I do them once every 10 days or so, and they’re often just things that are on my mind or where I’ve been or who I’ve spoken to, and I try to mix a bit of personal stuff in it as well. If you don’t exist online, you don’t exist.” —Richard Bowden, Bupa Australia A VIEW FROM THE TOP 34
  34. 34. How Leaders Communicate: The Tools They Use 4 Social media. In addition to external communication via social media, some organiza-tions have developed an inter-nal social media platform for employees only. “We have our own social media site called HumanRaceBook.com. It’s a play on Facebook, but it’s a place where our students who are engaged in global citi-zenship work can get online and use it to talk about key issues.” —Ann Buller, Centennial College “We have all the regular social media tools within our four walls. Our employees can network, instant message, post a status update, video call and access an app store just like they would [outside of work]. We actually have a portal, have all the tools here that let us operate in an open envi-ronment, yet in a classified environment.” —William Swanson, Raytheon 4 Email. Email can be effective although it must be used with caution because it can easily be misconstrued. “All 72,000 people in Raytheon have my email address. They can and actually do, send emails. My goal every night is to have a ‘clean screen’ by responding to all of the emails I’ve received.” —William Swanson, Raytheon 4 Company website. “We are trying now to make sure that our website is meeting the needs of each of our key constituencies, which need any-thing from very basic to very detailed information about our company.” —Anthony Marino, Baytex Energy While a few organizations have embraced social media and are aggressively integrating these tools into their corporate communication toolkit, social media is still relatively new for most large organizations. Many of today’s cor-porate leaders find social media burdensome. They think that it must be used thoughtfully, and feel that there is a loss of control over the message when using social media as a channel for corporate communication. “I think the challenging aspect of integrat-ing social media into communication strat-egy is it was one thing to move just online and understand that in many profound ways the Internet kind of democratized communication, because it was many-to-many, not one-to-many, the way publishing or broadcasting is one to many. It’s another thing to understand that in the social media world, you really don’t have control over your message, whether it’s your brand message or other elements of your com-munication strategy. And being able to live with that degree of loss of control I think particularly at the CEO level is a challenge that’s still being worked through.” —Christie Hefner, formerly of Playboy Enterprises Inc. A VIEW FROM THE TOP 35
  35. 35. How Leaders Communicate: The Tools They Use “You’d better hug social media. You’d better make sure that whatever you write or whatever you do, you’re willing to have it show up as a headline around the world tomorrow.” —William Swanson, Raytheon Social media must be used with caution because a company’s reputation can be nega-tively affected from just one misstep. Because of the viral nature of social media, messages can be amplified and spread quickly. For example, one post on Twitter can be retweeted thousands of times, and one YouTube video can instantly be viewed by millions of consumers. As such, social media should be used thoughtfully and strategically. “I’ve got to be comfortable with all social media. Everything happens instanta-neously, and your reputation can be soiled with just one blog…with bad infor-mation. How do you react to that?…it’s a different communication challenge, and I think it puts more of a burden on CEOs today, and they’d better be comfortable with it.” —William Swanson, Raytheon “I think for social media it would be a mistake not to understand it. I don’t think people fully understand the full nature of it, that it is completely public. It’s not private, and you need to have some policies around that. You’ve seen a lot of examples of unintended consequences.” —Eric Morrison, formerly of The Canadian Press Even with the potential drawbacks, social media is widely recognized as a powerful medium with immediate impact. Executives believe that “it’s definitely here to stay” and think their peers should become comfortable with it and embrace it in all of its forms. “Well, social media, it’s here to stay, for sure. It’s amazing the impact that it’s had. And as an organization, we’re really just in the midst of trying to figure out how to position ourselves with social media. We do some monitoring, and we certainly have an internal policy on its use. But we do need to do some work on how to lever-age it for the benefit of our customers, and certainly our stakeholders, and make sure that it’s timely.” —Greg Stewart, Farm Credit Canada A VIEW FROM THE TOP 36
  36. 36. How Leaders Communicate: The Tools They Use “For us this is a relatively recent phe-nomenon. I think it is a relatively new and untested media, and at an experi-mentation stage. We know that perhaps in the future this is going to be widely important. At the moment, we are dab-bling with it.” —Mahendra Gursahani, Standard Chartered Bank “We recognize that we have to be increas-ingly open and transparent. You can’t close down businesses now, you can’t bunker up if there’s a problem. You’ve got to go the other way; you’ve got to be more open, more transparent than you would have been historically. So people are more exposed, individuals are more exposed, companies are more exposed. You’ve got to be able to embrace that and see benefi ts in it rather than close it down.” —Mark Price, Waitrose Social media needs to be carefully managed. Leaders tend to rely on the advice of their com-munication team when using it. When used correctly, executives often fi nd social media to be an effective tool to communicate both inter-nally and externally, particularly with Gen- Xers and Millennials. They believe that social media is a powerful communication tool largely because it allows for immediate feedback and encourages interaction. “They [social media] are a fantastic tool. They are still in the initial stage, and they have a lot of potential to grow and to represent a very important way to com-municate for business purposes. Within our company, we are still at a very early stage. It’s something that we are moni-toring and even taking some steps for-ward, but, for us it is still more a poten-tial source for business communication, rather than a reality.” —Ignacio Bustamante, Hochschild Mining “I mean I’m personally a big fan of social media. I’ve embraced it. You know I think my view of that is that it’s a generational thing that your Millennials are really in tune to that. And I think it’s important for companies to try to communicate both with Millennials and below and above, both employees and customers…I tend to embrace it and think it’s something that has…it probably has some negatives, but it also has some huge advantages.” —Barry Griswell, formerly of Principal Financial Group A VIEW FROM THE TOP 37
  37. 37. How Leaders Communicate: The Tools They Use “Now, with social media everybody is a communicator and so you get this great opportunity for incomplete off-target sort of stuff from the corporate perspective, let’s put it that way, so how do you over-come that? Well, the only way you over-come that in my judgment is just to have a very strong CEO leadership that can personify the company and do his or her utmost to ensure that the messaging that the company wishes to have out there is just constantly reinforced.” —John Derrick, formerly of Potomac Electric Power Company “When you’re dealing with tweeting and blogging and other forms of social media, there are different kinds of risks that you need to think about. It’s a powerful medium with instant impact, so I think it has to be done thoughtfully. I think it’s going to be increasingly part of our future, but I still approach it with a little bit of trepidation because I know it needs to be managed carefully.” —George Barrett, Cardinal Health Of all the executives interviewed in this study, Brian Dunn, formerly of Best Buy, is the biggest champion of social media. He does it all—Facebook, Twitter and blogging. Dunn’s advice for other CEOs is to just “jump in” and “talk about something you care about.” He often blogs about his personal interests such as baseball and basketball because he believes it “has a wonderfully humanizing effect.” “I’ve got 5,000 Facebook friends, prob-ably 4,600 of them are Best Buy employ-ees. I have 10,000 followers on Twitter, and they’re largely employees. It allows me to have quick exchanges with them. I find it very, very energizing and infor-mative. It provides me with great context about how the folks I work with are feel-ing. I’m getting much more than I’m giv-ing in these places.” —Brian Dunn, formerly of Best Buy Regardless of the audience, a combination of technology and face-to-face communication is usually ideal. “A combination of high-touch and high-tech is optimal. So, obviously, technology allows for everything from videoconfer-encing of meetings to an internal, effec-tive website and digital communication strategy.... At the same time, I believe that none of that in the aggregate is a substitute for the power of face-to-face communications.” —Christie Hefner, formerly of Playboy Enterprises Inc. A VIEW FROM THE TOP 38
  38. 38. 7 The Role of Communication Professionals within the Organization The primary responsibility of communication professionals is to help identify who needs to be informed, how they should be informed and who should inform them. Most of the time, impor-tant messages should come from “the top” or the CEO/president/managing director, but that is not always the case. It is the responsibility of the communication team to keep a pulse on each constituency and know who needs to hear what, from whom, when, and how they need to hear it. Ultimately, a communication professional plays a key role by assisting the senior executive in fi nding the best forums in which to communicate, crafting messages and keeping them simple, and ultimately getting the maximum value out of the communication effort. “We always look at what the best mecha-nism is for getting the message out, and consider who the best person is, because it’s not always the CEO and I think the CEO has to understand that.” —Ann Buller, Centennial College
  39. 39. The Role of Communication Professionals Within the Organization “They [communicators] play a key role. It really is the role of assisting me in what is, number one, the best forums to com-municate… and to get maximum value out of the time and effort. They assist me greatly in terms of what is the correct media to use for that particular commu-nication. Do you get down to that par-ticular operation and do it face-to-face? Do you go and see the regulator? Do you use the telephone? Do you write a let-ter? They are often key in helping me to formulate what the right media is. It is also packaging the messages so that we all ensure that we remain consistent in terms of what we are saying. Just keep it simple. They also do a lot of work around who are the key stakeholders that need to be informed and updated. They assist us in keeping a diary on who should be communicated to in which point in time. Often we do a lot of work in the commu-nities where we work. We’ve got to share that news. You’ve got to not only build your brand externally, but you’ve got to build your brand internally as well for the people—of the companies that they work for. They play a big role in branding the company internally and building ambas-sadors out of our employees.” —Philip Barton, De Beers “I would expect my communications man-ager to be…the person that is closer to understanding what the company is feeling at a particular time and what sort of mes-sage they would benefit from hearing.” —Mahendra Gursahani, Standard Chartered Bank “They [communicators] challenge me to communicate often and well. They push me. They give me real feedback when I think I’ve been effective or when I haven’t been as effective as I need to be. They’re looking for new ways to reach new audi-ences.” —Brian Dunn, formerly of Best Buy “I was very fortunate through the years to have communications advisers who were creative, who understood me, knew how to, you know, do scripting that I would be comfortable with, and were very effective in dealing with the constituencies that are important to us.” —John Derrick, formerly of Potomac Electric Power Company A VIEW FROM THE TOP 40
  40. 40. The Role of Communication Professionals Within the Organization “They convey to us what people want to know about, where there is more need for information in the different instances in which we communicate. Another impor-tant role is that they tell us the best way to communicate our messages, how to make sure that people in these different instances understand the message in the most effective manner.” —Ignacio Bustamante, Hochschild Mining To be successful, communication profes-sionals must become familiar with their leader’s style of communication and his or her priori-ties and expectations. A senior executive and his or her communication professionals must be in alignment and must speak the same language. Additionally, successful communication profes-sionals develop messages and other communi-cation materials that their executive will value, and they use specifi c language and nuances that their executive would use. “We work together to make sure that it comes out as me...that it doesn’t sound like somebody else or something that I wouldn’t say.” —Greg Stewart, Farm Credit Canada “I advise my communications staff to know me. Know the person you’re advis-ing and help capture my voice, tone, and —George Barrett, Cardinal Health “Even if someone is drafting something for me, the joke is that we Ann-ize it so it has a certain approach.” —Ann Buller, Centennial College In some organizations, the communication team is the fi lter for all communications. Often-times, organizations want communication to be centralized so that there is one entity controlling all outgoing messages. This is meant to ensure that constituents do not hear inconsistencies. In general, companies don’t want audiences receiv-ing multiple different messages from several sources. “Because so much is going on out there, and we want to make sure that the peo-ple in all divisions don’t get bombarded with 40 different messages from 10 dif-ferent groups…we really try to centralize the communication function at FCC and make sure our communications group is the fi lter [to bundle messages/determine what should go out].” —Greg Stewart, Farm Credit Canada belief system.” A VIEW FROM THE TOP 41
  41. 41. The Role of Communication Professionals Within the Organization Additionally, communication professionals are expected to be proactive and to be knowl-edgeable about their industry, their company, their audiences, and the related issues. The most successful communicators are those who are experts in their specific business and in the broader industry in which they are a player. They are curious and constantly hunger to learn more. According to George Barrett of Cardinal Health, “you have to have command over your subject matter. I think that people need to believe that you are not only genuine and authentic, but that you’re competent, know your subject, and have command.” It is a well-known fact that often employees most respect and listen to their direct manag-ers. Therefore, a strong internal communication strategy should provide the tools and resources (e.g., training) for all managers to communicate effectively with their direct reports. “…I think [for] employees, the person that they respect the most and listen to the most is their direct manager. So we work pretty hard at giving our manag-ers the tools to be able to communicate effectively with their employees.” —Greg Stewart, Farm Credit Canada Communicators are expected to have very strong command of language (both verbal and written) so that they understand subtleties and how to help their leader convey complex thoughts simply and directly. Part of their responsibility is to respond promptly and to provide construc-tive feedback to help their leader improve his or her communication abilities. Communication professionals must: 4 Be experts in the organiza-tion’s specific business and the broader industry within which it functions. Expert knowledge of the business is important for developing the right messages—ones that are accurate and relevant to the target audience. “…I think the ability to understand the business is really important, and it’s probably underrated. It’s very important because the messaging is not just about the words. It’s about understanding the business context.” —George Barrett, Cardinal Health 4 Be sensitive to and perceptive of the nuances of language. “It’s about understanding the nuances of language, someone who gets the differ-ence between innovation and inventive-ness. These are shades that I think are really important.” —George Barrett, Cardinal Health 4 Simplify complex messages. “They need to be really, really skilled at delivering complex messages in a simple way. Try to figure out how to communicate in a way people can understand…this is what their job is.” —Kate Paul, Delta Dental of Colorado A VIEW FROM THE TOP 42
  42. 42. The Role of Communication Professionals Within the Organization 4 Take initiative, be proactive, anticipate issues and respond promptly. “Be proactive. Make it a habit that when something’s coming up, you’ve already gotten the [communications] plan half written when you go to the CEO. You know, make it almost idiot proof for him or her. You’ve got to earn your stripes, so I think you’ve got to make sure that when you’re at the table you’re contributing like others at the table as well.” —Barry Griswell, formerly of Principal Financial Group 4 Be honest with the CEO/ president/managing director. They rely on their commu-nication experts to tell them when they are doing a good job communicating and when there is room for improvement. “You’ve got to have a corporate communi-cations group that’s got the confi dence to come in and be honest with you and go, look this just isn’t translating, you’re not doing a good job. I know you don’t want to hear this, but don’t do this again.” —David Hunke, USA TODAY “You need to have a team that feels com-fortable being frank with one another and talking about what it is that needs to be communicated or needs to be dealt with or how it should be dealt with.” —John Derrick, formerly of Potomac Electric Power Company Ultimately, there are many attributes that defi ne a successful communication profes-sional. The biggest challenge and responsibility, however, is to do whatever it takes to prepare a senior executive thoroughly for all types of communication in any setting. “Good communicator, good writer, good organizer, the person who is thorough, the person who can anticipate the issues …can write a great Q&A for you so that you thought of most every question that could possibly be asked.” —Barry Griswell, formerly of Principal Financial Group A VIEW FROM THE TOP 43
  43. 43. 8 Conclusion The executives who participated in this study believe communication is a core competency that plays a critical role in supporting business strategy. They all view communication as a key component to both their organization’s overall success in the marketplace and to their individual effectiveness as leaders. This is welcome news to communicators, but what are the implications of these fi ndings for communicators in their day-to-day roles and for the profession as a whole? MORE COMMUnICATIOn And MORE OPTIOnS FOR COMMUnICATIng Information now travels faster than ever before. As such, communication professionals must assist their senior leaders in disseminating and prioritizing the many messages they have to deliver, quickly and succinctly. It is critical to ensure that important messages reach con-stituencies directly from the top, as opposed to from other, less credible sources. Technological advances have increased the number and type of communication channels that are available. Communication profession-als must not only be aware of these channels, but also be able to decide which of these vari-ous channels are most appropriate. They must understand the information needs of diverse and increasingly sophisticated constituencies, and be experts in helping their senior execu-tives identify the best ways to reach different stakeholders most effectively. Ironically, one of the results of technological change is an increasing, rather than decreasing, reliance on face-to-face communication. Senior leaders prefer this method of communication above all others, largely because they can see and interpret body language, and can forge a personal connection with important constitu-ents. For these reasons, communication pro-fessionals need to be students of their leader’s personality and style in order to support their leaders’ in-person communication initiatives. They must also become experts in new technol-ogies so they can train their executives on how
  44. 44. Conclusion to integrate these new communication tools into the company’s media mix. This is neces-sary to create the most balanced and effective overall communication strategy. All senior executives recognize the power of social media; however, few are completely comfortable using these media at the current time. Communication professionals must work together with senior leaders to better understand how to communicate effectively via social media, and to implement appropri-ate monitoring techniques so that they can respond to constituents as necessary. diversification of audiences Audiences are now more diverse in terms of cul-tural, linguistic, age and socioeconomic perspec-tives than ever before. It is no longer enough for communication professionals to be experts in the nuances of the English language or in the business/industry in which they work (although having this expertise is still critically important). To succeed in business today, communication professionals must also be able to determine how best to communicate with an increasingly diverse base of constituents. Due to globalization, communication pro-fessionals have to communicate in a way that translates across countries, cultures and time zones. Along with senior executives, they must understand the different needs of constituencies all over the world and customize communica-tion for the local market. This is more impor-tant than ever before as businesses expand into new markets and leaders rely on their commu-nication professionals to engage local country managers/experts. A one-size-fits-all communication strategy is not viable. Communication must be tailored to specific target audiences, and leaders must adapt to a variety of communication channels and styles. Therefore, communication profession-als must be prepared to encourage executives to reach outside of their comfort zones so they can communicate messages to a broad variety of audiences in the most effective way possible. skepticism of business and leaders Tough economic times, as well as corporate scandals, have contributed to a climate of increased distrust of big business and corporate leaders. As a result, key constituents are con-stantly demanding more and better communi-cation, if not reassurance, from the top. Senior executives want communication professionals to be sensitive to the increased demands being made on their time and would like guidance on the most efficient and effective ways to get their messages across to each group of stakeholders. The recent economic recession has driven executives to rely more heavily on their com-munication professionals for advice when com-municating: 4 Difficult news. 4 Complex messages. 4 How their organization is different from and better than the competition. A VIEW FROM THE TOP 45
  45. 45. Conclusion OTHER IMPLICATIOnS Communication is the lynchpin to ensuring that all constituents are aligned with the cor-porate strategy and objectives and are, there-fore, working together toward a common goal. Effective communication starts with listening, and communication professionals should ensure that the company has a myriad of mechanisms to solicit feedback from both internal and external constituencies. Two-way communica-tion is a tool that can ultimately help create stronger engagement within an organization and with outside stakeholders. Communication professionals must help their leaders leverage corporate communication as a tool to unify and engage key constituencies as necessary. The best communication professionals promptly counsel and advise senior leaders on how to best improve their communication without sacrifi cing the leader’s voice and style. Communication professionals should famil-iarize themselves with a leader’s communica-tion style, priorities and expectations. Strive for all communications to legitimately sound like something the senior leader would say or write, and reinforce the need to be transparent, authentic, clear, honest, simple, and credible with the message and the delivery. Communi-cation professionals need to adequately prepare senior executives with answers to the who, what, where, when and why types of questions. The most effective collaboration between communication professionals and senior lead-ers often occurs when the communicator is given a “seat at the table.” Senior executives must welcome communication professionals as strategic partners, and communication profes-sionals must proactively carve out this role for themselves and be prepared to be held account-able for the success or failure of their organiza-tion’s communication strategies. AdVICE FOR COMMUnICATIOn PROFESSIOnALS The leaders involved in this study offered the following tips and advice: 4 Be amazing listeners. “My sense is that the best communica-tors are probably spectacular listeners…. Effective communication is really about listening to your audience, or someone you’re crafting a speech for, and getting a sense of who they are to better shape your messaging.” —George Barrett, Cardinal Health 4 Be open and honest; don’t underestimate your audience’s ability to see through obfusca-tions. 4 Provide context for every communication; give reasons for why things are being done a certain way. 4 Communicate often; there’s no such thing as too much communication. 4 Look for new ways to reach new audiences. 4 Be proactive and anticipate the issues. A VIEW FROM THE TOP 46
  46. 46. Conclusion “We live in incredibly volatile times..., incredibly fast-changing times. You know in the old days we had kind of incremen-tal change. We now have exponential change. And I really don’t know of any-thing that’s much more important than trying to communicate with people dur-ing periods of uncertainty…. [Commu-nicators] should understand the impor-tant role they play and they should…be proactive and expect a seat at the table and operate as if…they have a seat at the table.” —Barry Griswell, formerly of Principal Financial Group THE FUTURE OF CORPORATE COMMUnICATIOn And what about the future of corporate com-munication? Executives offered the following advice for their peers: 4 Get comfortable with social Some of the CEOs also said that in the future, there will no longer be a division between internal and external communication; there will only be communication (i.e., a mes-sage to employees could very well show up in public the next day). “I think the top challenges that face us from a communications standpoint are the fact that the lines are blurred between external/internal communications, to the point where I don’t believe there’s any such thing as a purely internal commu-nication anymore. Any time we issue an internal memo, it’s counted in hours or minutes when it’s posted somewhere. I think there’s two ways you can go after this, right? You could sort of rage against that and try to lock everything down. Or you can embrace that and say, you know what, we’re in a very transparent world. It’s really an era of radical transparency. So we’re going to make sure that what we communicate, what we craft are messages that work for all our constituencies.” —Brian Dunn, formerly of Best Buy The bottom line is that communication is not just a competency for professional commu-nicators. CEOs must be skilled at communica-tion and must give their communicators a seat at the proverbial table. Without either, any busi-ness will be at a great disadvantage. media because it’s not going away. 4 You can’t be afraid of communi-cation; you have to embrace it. 4 Stay ahead of the spread of messages so that you can man-age them. A VIEW FROM THE TOP 47
  47. 47. Appendix: background, Methodology, Objectives, Limitations The purpose of this study was to better understand the role of chief executive offi cers (CEOs)/ presidents/managing directors in corporate communication and determine how communication professionals can assist these executives with their communication responsibilities. Shugoll interviewed CEOs/presidents/manag-ing directors: 4 From companies representing a mix of industries, including manufacturing, retail, fi nance, health care, technology and entertainment. 4 From companies with annual revenues of approximately US$1 billion or more. 4 Who are/were extremely involved in communicating with all key constituencies for their organization. Seventeen executives were male, and three were female. Study participants represented a variety of industry sectors and locations. Study par-ticipants were primarily current executives, but three had recently retired. Once the in-depth telephone interviews were completed, the interviews were tran-scribed. Shugoll Research conducted a content analysis of the interviews to identify, describe, and interpret the key fi ndings and trends articulated by study participants.
  48. 48. Appendix: Background, Methodology, Objectives, Limitations Study Objectives 4 Identify the top business chal-lenges for the next three to five years. 4 Determine if these challenges are unique to individual com-panies or if they affect busi-ness more broadly. 4 Determine whether communi-cation is considered a leader-ship competency. 4 Describe the senior executive’s role as a communicator. 4 Determine if corporate com-munication has changed in recent years. 4 Understand the keys to effec-tive communication. 4 Determine the impact of globalization on corporate communication. 4 Understand the role of com-munication professionals within the organization. 4 Describe successful collabora-tion between senior executives and communication profes-sionals. 4 Determine if senior executives perceive an increased demand for communication from key stakeholders. 4 Identify the tools senior execu-tives find most useful when communicating with various constituencies. 4 Describe the role of social media in corporate communi-cation. 4 Obtain advice for communica-tion professionals. 4 Consider the future of corpo-rate communication. Limitations A qualitative research methodology seeks to develop directions rather than quantitatively precise or absolute measures. The limited number of participants involved in this type of project means the study should be regarded as exploratory in nature, and the results used to generate hypoth-eses. The nonstatistical nature of qualitative research means the results cannot be generalized to the population under study with a known level of statistical precision. A VIEW FROM THE TOP 49
  49. 49. About Marketwire Every day, Marketwire plays a critical role in shaping the conversations that happen in newsrooms, corporate boardrooms and social networks around the world, helping communicators move mar-kets, change public opinion and affect consumer behavior. Marketwire is a social communications company that provid es everyone, from Fortune 500 enterprises to start-ups, with powerfully simple solutions: global press release distribution, indus-try- leading social media monitoring and analytics, and a fully integrated marketing communica-tions platform for content creation, optimization, distribution and measurement.
  50. 50. About the Researcher Merrill Shugoll is president and a principal of Shugoll Research, one of the top 100 research companies in the U.S. according to Advertising Age. A widely respected market researcher, she has 30 years of experience conducting qualitative and quantitative research that helps to shape the strategic planning of corporations, nonprofi t organizations, trade and professional associations, and government agencies. Ms. Shugoll has contributed to a number of industry groups. She is a past president of the Marketing Research Association, a past president of the Metropolitan Chapter of the American Marketing Association and a founder of the Health Care Division of the AMA’s Washington chapter. She is also currently active in the Qualitative Research Consultants Association (QRCA) and the Washington Ad Club, and was the 1991 recipient of the prestigious Frank H. Weitzel Award for her dedication of corporate resources to the American Cancer Society’s research needs.
  51. 51. About the IAbC Research Foundation The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Research Foundation serves as the research and development arm of IABC. Founded in 1982, the Foundation is dedicated to contributing new fi ndings and knowledge to the communication profession, and to helping organizations and communicators maximize contributions to organizational success. For more information about the IABC Research Foundation, please go to http://www.iabc.com/research-foundation/.

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  • trippbraden

    Jan. 6, 2021

Corporate communication from the perspective of senior executives.

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