A window of opportunity: The future of corporate communications with Geren Raywood

The global pandemic has fundamentally reshaped the communication profession, with communications becoming more materially important to the C-suite than ever before. So, as we look ahead to 2022, what does this mean for the role of corporate communicators?

Research from Edelman in the US looks at exactly this question. The report – The Future of Corporate Communications  – was based on a survey of over 200 Chief Communication Officers across the US.

In this episode, I am joined by co-author Geren Raywood, who gives us her take on some of the key opportunities, and challenges, facing communication professionals in the year ahead.

On the role of Comms today: The strategic positioning of corporate communications within the organisation has fundamentally changed. The pandemic pushed the discipline forward in the way that any good crisis does – communicators had to be in the room to be able to help the c-suite to help maintain stakeholder engagement and brand reputation through the global pandemic. It provided a lot of opportunities to elevate the role of communications.

On employee engagement: Employee communication has moved way up the agenda and this is not just a passing fad. The underlying issue is the social contract between employer and employee is changing… the fundamental expectation that employees have for the work experience, how an organisation treats them and how an organisation engages with the outside world is changing and the power dynamic is shifting.

On organisations taking a view on societal issues: It is here to stay. 73% of CCOs say societal issues have changed their communication agenda in the past 12 months. That is huge.

On measurement: There is increasing expectation from the business to prove results. Communicators are moving from counting the volume of communication or basic channel performance to measuring the impact of communication on behaviour. Are they moving audiences – whether external or internal – to do a certain action?

On the role of the communicator: There’s been an expansion from just media relations or internal comms skills to teams needing to have advanced digital, advanced multimedia, brand PR, and increasingly today, data and analytics skills – the demand for communication has never been stronger.

On CommsTech: The first challenge of CommsTech is defining CommsTech – The tools, tech and data that allow communicators to precisely target, measure and shape perceptions and behaviour at the individual level… Using AI, analytics and Natural Language Processing to mine insights and then apply those insights into communication strategy to reach an audience where they are.

On the opportunity in 2022: The pandemic, for all its hardship and tragedy, has created this moment for communication to take centre stage in the organisation and claim its position as fundamental to business performance and business success. The number one item on the agenda in the coming year is not to lose that momentum – how do you institutionalise those changes made during the pandemic.   

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