On Wednesday 23 February, One America Square in London was host to an inspiring and insightful conference. The day was packed to the brim with interesting and diverse businesses, panel discussions and breakout sessions covering a wide range of hot topics including: crisis communications; the acceleration and optimisation of digital and tech; corporate reputation strategies; effectively communicating ESG agendas and diversity and inclusion.
A key agenda item was how to communicate with conviction during uncertainty to inspire confidence and retain engagement through stakeholder networks. There were many that felt their roles in communications were thrust into the spotlight at the height of the pandemic with the C-suite relying heavily on their counsel.
Easy to imagine why when considering the panellists debating the issue:
Lesley Woods, Chief Communications Officer at the UK Ministry of Defence spoke of the positive impact the army had had on communities during the crisis as well as navigating comms challenges with the NHS amidst the pandemic. Simon Sinek’s ‘Find your Why’ was a cornerstone for many who found strength and a reinforced purpose, including Lesley who described her desire to “be a lighthouse for others in a crisis”.
Stephanie Boyle, Global Head of Corporate & Industry Communications at Skyscanner spoke of the colossal challenges facing the travel agency and the importance of clear, proactive communication to build trust and connection for the future – even if there is nothing to say in the present. However, the panel did warn of “over-communication” and agreed on a balanced approach.
In a session mapping corporate reputation in the dawn of data, questions around trust, risk, rising issues and how to manage them, and the impact reputation has on a business were debated. These impacts ranged from employee satisfaction, diversity and awareness to financial performance and share price.
Clearly, reputation has never been more important for business performance. Recent research shows that close to 30% of market capitalisation is underpinned by a company’s reputation and that 72% of business leaders believe reputation will be a bigger driver of business performance than margin in the next five years. This heightened focus on perception poses new challenges and opportunities for communications leaders, as they try to understand what’s driving loyalty and trust in a brand and help businesses answer the burning questions around reputation. To do this effectively, organisations need to make sense of all the data available to them, in particular the unstructured, fragmented data around reputation.
A lively breakout discussion on the ‘New Tech Advances’ was held by Mike Scott, Global Head of External Communications and Marketing at Hitachi Rail. One of the most interesting take-aways was the shift of perception in AI and the adoption of new technologies to increase efficiency and free up time for ‘bigger picture’ strategic thinking and problem solving, as opposed to a reticence to invest resource in cutting-edge but higher risk tech.
Richard Scott, Corporate Affairs Director at West Coast Partnership, commented:
“The pandemic has bought the world of communications to the forefront. It has never been more important to clearly communicate your message, strategy and values to stakeholders, but with situations as uncertain as Covid, how do you communicate effectively and with clarity?”
If you would like to find out more about the take-aways from the Corporate Communications Conference or discuss how to deliver clear and effective communications, contact firstname.lastname@example.org