Blog Tagged Articles

Building employee trust & confidence in leaders

I was at a roundtable last week with a number of communications directors as well as others from related backgrounds, and the topic of trust in business came up, as it so often does. We discussed some of the contributory factors; corporate greed and pay offs coupled with apparent rewards for misconduct/failures exacerbating the situation; data privacy/loss of data; profiteering at…

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5 reasons leaders fail to recognise the strategic value of internal communications & engagement?

The ability to communicate has been considered a key competency for business leaders for several years now.  Although a growing proportion of leaders are natural communicators and readily prepared to invest valuable personal time in it, there are still many who are not.  That comes across clearly, and the reasons explained, in the longer version of our latest report, “The…

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“Work is a social experience”. Do companies go out of their way to make sure it’s not like that?

This is a quote from our latest report, “The Missing Link”, which examines the importance of the employee experience and how companies so often neglect this fundamental concept, or fail to consider it as a strategic priority – is this your experience? Our research also highlights a number of developments that have further underlined the importance of the employee experience and the…

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Who really matters?

The majority of companies and their leadership teams, obsess about the perceptions of external stakeholders to the detriment of their key internal audience, employees according to our latest report, “The Missing Link”, backed up (and observed) by no shortage of anecdotal evidence. Employees have tended to lag behind other audiences in the overall stakeholder hierarchy, although the situation is changing, and culture…

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The Missing Link

The research that I frequently blogged about last year is finally about to see the light of day. Entitled “The Missing Link”, it takes as its premise the fact that culture, purpose, brand and the overall employee experience, along with the factors that influence all of these, are still, by and large (and there are exceptions), not a strategic priority for…

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We have recently had a blog posted on the Arthur Page website, which looks at the reasons behind the elevation of the role to the ExCo. We identified the convergence of three developments:

In our most recent (2016/17) FTSE 100 Group Corporate Communications/Affairs Director Survey, Watson Helsby, the specialist communications and government relations executive search firm, disclosed that over 51% of FTSE 100 group corporate communications/affairs directors are now formal members of their respective executive committees. This is the first year that this is now a majority, albeit a marginal one. We…

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The Arthur Page Society, the US professional association for CCOs, has recently published a blog by Nick Helsby entitled “Why the Director of Corporate Affairs role is being elevated to the Executive Committee”.

The Arthur Page, the US professional association for CCOs, has recently published a blog by Nick Helsby entitled “Why the Director of Corporate Affairs role is being elevated to the Executive Committee”.…

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HR & Communications working in harmony

In a previous blog I referred to the frustration we had picked up on amongst HR professionals with regard to their relationship with the communications function. It does, of course, work both ways, as illustrated by some quotes from our Employee Experience research (not officially published yet but due out shortly). “There is a strong streak in HR that likes to regulate…

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Culture, brand & engagement – who is looking at the bigger picture?

When conducting interviews for the purpose/culture/brand/communications research we have referred to in our previous two blogs, we found evidence of new thinking and practices, and several interesting new initiatives around culture, engagement and the employer brand. New roles, teams, functions and, in certain cases, individuals driving new culture and engagement-related initiatives. Most, though not all of these, have originated within…

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Why does HR get frustrated with internal communications?

In a blog last week I referred to a new research study we are shortly to publish based on interviews with an eclectic mix of senior executives from HR, culture, communications, brand and employee experience, all of whom share direct and common experience of how their leaders communicate, engage and connect with their employees as well as the strategies –…

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Joining-up culture, brand & reputation

Over the past year, Watson Helsby has been conducting an extensive research study to explore the following questions: To what degree is internal communications used and valued as an integral, strategic business discipline and what is the evidence for this? Are organisations taking a more integrated and coherent approach to culture, brand, and communications and the overall employee experience? If so, what does…

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Professionalising story telling

As the opportunities to engage customers and other stakeholders with powerful and emotionally engaging visual content continues to proliferate it is interesting to see how companies are going about building this capability. It is not historically a core skill of PR/communications and yet, in this deficit attention world, the ability to capture people’s attention is imperative. Back in October 2016 PR Week…

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The Fog of Brexit

Last week, I attended one of the many Brexit events that have been organised over recent months. Hosted by a leading law firm, it boasted an impressive and well-informed panel. One of the key discussion points, not surprisingly, was… how do organisations ensure that they understand the debate and the direction that the Brexit negotiations will take and, more importantly, how do…

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US CCOs earn more than their FTSE100 Group UK Corporate Comms/Affairs Directors counterparts

Each year Watson Helsby publishes its' annual FTSE 100 Group Corporate Communications/Affairs Director survey. We thought it would be interesting to compare our findings with Korn Ferry's most recent Chief Communications Officer (CCO) survey of Fortune 500 Chief Communications Officers, where comparable data sets exist in each survey. Since the corporate affairs director position/title is…

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Marrying reputation risk with strategic reputation management

The rigour and modelling methodologies that are often found in the Strategic Risk practices of the management consultancies have rarely combined well with the strategic reputation management expertise found in some communications consultancies.  It was, therefore, interesting to see that H-K Bryn, former partner for Strategic Risk at Deloitte, has teamed up with the Headland Consultancy to launch a new reputation…

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Does the external affairs function need to be reinvented?

A recent McKinsey survey – “How to reinvent the external affairs function” – undertaken amongst a sample of executives (it did not specify titles) revealed a dissatisfaction with the capability of their external affairs teams. A few stats stand out: “Only 11% of executives said their companies frequently succeeded at shaping government and regulatory decisions.” And there were no regions or…

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Outlook for mid senior level corporate affairs hiring

There is no doubt that Brexit will further extend a period uncertainty and we all know in periods of uncertainty, investment decisions are postponed. This applies as much to strategic hires as it does to capital expenditure. Although the last six months have seen some senior level hiring in corporate affairs, activity levels have undoubtedly declined year on year. In…

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Our guest blogger Hans - Kristian Bryn provides his view on reputational risk and the role of the CAD

Reputational risk - where do the responsibilities of the Corporate Affairs Director start and end?  A view by our guest blogger Hans-Kristian Bryn, an international risk management and governance advisor, formerly UK leader of Deloitte’s Strategic Risk Practice.  Reputational risk management is a hot topic and often debated with and amongst Corporate Affairs Directors (CADs).  However, CADs are only one of the…

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Who should play the role of consigliere to the CEO?

In a recent article in HR Magazine, Richard Hytner suggests that the HR Director is the most obvious person to play the role of consigliere to the CEO. He has just published a book called ‘Consigliere: Leading from the Shadows. There is no doubt CEOs have a lonely job and most would admit to…

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What's the future of the CCO role?

Somewhat belatedly, since it was published in March, I am flagging a new research study, published by the Arthur Page Society (a US based professional association for senior PR and corporate communications executives), which explores the future of the Chief Communications Officer (CCO) role here: http://goo.gl/7VcCTO. The research was led and co-authored by Jon Iwata, SVP of…

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Is corporate communications really embracing data and insight?

In a recent conversation with a large FTSE 100 retail bank, one of their communications leaders told me that the capability gap that concerned them most was in data analysis. This is now their main hiring priority. And in a recent discussion of the findings of the latest Arthur Page Society report, “The New CCO: Transforming Enterprises in a Changing…

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To be or not to be there

We are shortly to publish a research study, in partnership with a Brussels-based headhunting firm, Viapublic, which investigates how companies organise and resource their Brussels and broader EU public affairs capability. It should be of interest to any company either reviewing their approach to monitoring and influencing policy in Brussels/EU or considering establishing a presence there. One interesting finding was the…

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FTSE 100 Group Corporate Communications/Affairs Director Survey

Our latest FTSE 100 Group Corporate Communications/Affairs Director Survey (2015/2016) is now available.  This has become the most comprehensive and insightful survey of its type, in terms of both the number of companies surveyed (over 90) and the range of questions we ask/themes we investigate. …

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It’s “tone at the middle” not “tone at the top”

With the recent spate of corporate scandals in mind, many of which have been behaviour-related, it is worth referencing a report published earlier this year by Thomson Reuters (written by Dr Roger Miles, an expert in behavioural economics and conduct risk) entitled “Tracing the true…

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Who's leading on reputation risk?

Reputation risk is a hot topic right now and a major preoccupation for most boards who are looking for reassurance that reputation risk is being managed systematically, and with the same rigour and frameworks, as every other risk.  The City is increasingly also looking for evidence that reputation management and intelligence systems are in place.  There is an opportunity here for…

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Is corporate communications really embracing data and insight?

In a recent conversation with a large FTSE 100 retail bank, one of their communications leaders told me that the capability gap that concerned them most was in data analysis. This is now their main hiring priority. And in a recent discussion of the findings of the latest Arthur Page Society report, “The New CCO: Transforming Enterprises in a Changing…

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European Association of Communications Directors (EACD)

At the European Association of Communications Directors’ Conference in Brussels last week there was frequent reference to a development, probably more prominent in the US, which is the integration of the marketing and corporate communications/affairs functions. Historically corporate communications has concerned itself with traditional ‘corporate’ stakeholder and marketing has focused on the consumer of customer.  However the lines between ‘corporate’ and…

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"Staying on the front foot"

Our latest research report, “Staying on the front foot”, is published this week. Drawing on both our observations as specialist headhunters and on interviews with respected corporate affairs directors it describes, in considerable depth, the unique contribution of the corporate affairs leader, and their team, to the leadership and success of an organisation. This analysis is accompanied…

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What happens when general counsel leads the corporate affairs function?

Over recent weeks I have had a number of conversations about the impact on the role and contribution of the corporate affairs function when it is led by a corporate lawyer (i.e. general counsel). And the subject cropped up again today over lunch. There is no doubt that CEOs of companies in heavily regulated industry sectors (e.g. tobacco) feel more…

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Is the corporate affairs director role sufficiently valued and understood?

In a recent article http://tinyurl.com/mj5c8w we highlighted that 43% of FTSE 100 companies have a corporate affairs director on the executive board. With NEDs increasingly wanting reassurance that relationships and reputation are being managed with the same rigour as any other business risk, it would be surprising if this did not increase. The Watson Helsby 2014 FTSE…

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