Friday, June 25, 2021

The roles of corporate communications and PR are changing

Egbert Deekeling, founder and senior partner of Deekeling Arndt/amo

There has been a dramatic rise in the importance of our profession

The Communications sector has become digital and faster than ever. Social media offer huge platforms for social polarisation within these turbulent political times, as they enable everyone to broadcast their particular truth to a large audience. In light of these evolving conditions, truth seeking is becoming increasingly difficult. At the same time, companies are under much greater scrutiny than ever before. They are social protagonists inextricably linked to certain entrepreneurial activities, expectations and demands.

Dealing with all that means engaging in systematic dialogue with investors, customers, politicians and the general public. This is a fundamental expansion of the role of corporate communications.

What issues like sustainability, responsibility and purpose mean for corporate communications

Companies are facing increasing social and political pressure to explain and defend their practices. The crucial factor which decides the level of acceptance, reputation and business success of a company depends on the way great challenges of the future are tackled.

For corporate communications, this means focusing on multi-stakeholder value, which is hugely extending the scope of our profession. In other words, the communications team not only has to systematically convey a company’s social licence to operate but also contribute to it and to some extent make it relevant from a business strategy perspective. That is a huge task!

Our work is complex, fast-paced, and demanding. We are experiencing an increasing need for navigation of corporate communications strategies. One of our key tasks is to frame the corporate strategy correctly, i.e. make it comprehensible and easy to communicate. This includes formulating a purpose in close consultation with top management.

In this way, we are also helping to shape their corporate transformation processes. In doing so, it is always our aim to support the transformation processes externally and internally in all communications-related areas and across all themes, as part of an overall strategic communications service.

The PR decade

Currently, we are experiencing a huge personalisation of corporate communications, where CEOs themselves are becoming the mouthpiece of the company via social media. The new multi-stakeholder paradigm is also one of the primary drivers of the trend, combined with a clear understanding of sustainability underpinned by the corporate strategy.

This means corporate communications are gaining a new level of importance, the like of which we have not seen in the history of our profession, and which will continue to become institutionalised in the future – both inside and outside the companies themselves.

Above all, the task of our sector is to come up with more detailed and extensive rules of engagement or professional ethics. A new form of compliance is required, perhaps as an extension to the “Code d‘Athènes”, with sanctions for breaches of the code. The power – or rather increasing power – of our professional field must be regulated.

This need for greater regulation also illustrates a dramatic rise in the importance and the impact of our profession.

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