The CEO’s top advisor: It’s now or never

The demand for dialogue between companies and their stakeholders gives communicators an unique opportunity. But the time is now, says IABC EMENA Region Board Chair Klavs Valskov, in our latest Board Blog.

Communications professionals have for years, if not decades, talked about being the strategic advisor for executive boards. In the aftermath of the global recession, the door is open if you can overcome an aversion to dealing with pivot tables and trend graphs. The facts-and-figures people are more than ever leading the conversation and if your arguments are not routed in evidence you won’t even get a shot. On the other hand, you will get a prominent seat at the table if you can provide compelling proof of audiences’ current sentiment and perhaps even correlate it to employee performance, customer satisfaction and maybe even leads. Gone are the days of being called upon as media experts who could devise direction based on gut feelings.

A new Corporate Affairs director

The new world of work requires that we get better methodologies and rigour in our daily operations, understand how to set measurable targets, and invest in analysis – plus report in simple formats that clearly communicate trends and impact.

The role of Corporate Affairs is to create space and adoption of your organisation’s message and products in a market space with increasing stakeholder complexity. What are the relevant issues, who is saying what about us, and what will they be interested in tomorrow?

It means that the competencies across the function will have to change, including  Corporate Affairs directors who traditionally hold PR degrees and core skills within media relations. Leading brands have discovered the effectiveness of holistic communication across all internal and external audiences – and that it all starts with the employees, not the journalists.

The need for tailoring

Our profession needs to be synchronised with the changing focus in companies where you are not only selling physical goods, but just as much recognition of values. This value-sale demands a much more sophisticated and tailored approach to each stakeholder group – grounded in listening and conversation. And it is in this process that communicators can play a radically different and leading role. Because we have spent our lives crafting messages tailored to a specific person in mind.

It’s for the same reason that the bigger brands are scrapping their traditional (very expensive) advertising campaigns. Buyers have far more access to information and their patterns have changed profoundly so that it becomes harder to understand where the tipping point for purchase decision happens. So intelligent mapping of influencers in networks is becoming more critical than ever. Sometimes they even know more about our brand than we do! If you are able to gain insights into their sentiment and who they are influencing, you’ll be sure to have a standing invitation to the monthly executive meeting.

 

Klavs

Klavs Valskov

About Klavs Valskov

Klavs is the current board chair for the IABC EMENA Region. He is Head of Brand for GE Oil & Gas and was the Communication Director for Maersk Line from 2008 to 2013.
Follow Klavs on Twitter: @KlavsValskov