Key challenges facing Communication Directors

What are key challenges facing Communication Directors, as they grow their careers from strategic advisor to business leader

Notes from round-table discussions held at the Communication Directors’ Forum (Part 1), 8-10 October 2014, Aurora.

Discussions started off with a conversation of the key challenges facing communication professionals around making an impact at the top. This often requires a different set of skills than are typically in the communication professional curriculum: these skills are around building and developing relationships, advice and coaching and business understanding. 

An emerging theme was that communicators who take time to understand and interact with the business or organization in which they operate tend to be more successful, respected and listened to by senior executives.

They make time and invest in senior executives and try to inhabit their world, and their concerns.

Ideas to help improve your business or organizational understanding

  • Site or customer visits; ad-hoc meetings with senior executives.
  • Internal stakeholder mapping: who are the people you need to influence and get ‘on side’?
  • Asking questions; in person, engaging with the business.
  • Escaping the hierarchy: as communicators it is our job to communicate. How can we do this sitting in a physical or metaphorical cubicle?
  • Providing evidence about why communications is essential and how it can impact on the business.
  • What are the promises your CEO has made and how do they translate into organizational priorities?

All of these may require and time and investment. But that seems only fair: if you want a senior executive to invest in time with you and understand your perspective, it seems logical that you could invest time in them and their perspective.

Thinking about the ‘big picture’

Communicators who understand these questions tend to operate at a more senior level than those who just play tactical roles.


  • What are the most important market segments for us?
  • What kinds of customers do we have?
  • How is the size of the market, its growth and its geographic distribution developing?


  • Who are our biggest and most important?
  • What do our customers think of the quality, service and price of what we offer?


  • Who are our biggest and most important?
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • How does our market share in each market compare?


  • What are the main distribution channels for bringing products and services to customers?
  • How well do they work? How do you know?

Suppliers and partners

  • What issues are we all confronting?/
  • What trends do our suppliers and partners face?
  • What are the prospects for the availability of key resources and ideas?

Interest groups

  • Who are the key ones?
  • Which important interest groups provide opportunities? Which pose threats?
  • How should we deal with these groups?


Stephen WelchThese discussions were held under the Chatham House Rule which states that participants are free to use the information, but that neither the identification of the speaker, nor that of any other participant may be revealed.

Stephen Welch, MCIPR CMRS FRSA, Past-President of IABC UK has participated in the round-table discussions and produced the notes above.


Twitter: @stephenwelch11

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *