• Why are organisations struggling with external affairs?

    Thinking back a century, it's clear that communication has evolved into a completely different beast. Even looking back a decade, there are stark differences, and just over the last 12 months, transient trends have come and go.

    This has a major impact on the way we develop and nurture relationships at a personal level, but almost more so on a corporate level. So how is this impacting the corporate affairs function?

    Human capital essential to stepping up

    According to the latest CEO Challenge survey from The Conference Board (TCB), human capital is ultimately what organisations need to mitigate the growing risks associated with relentless change. Drawing from findings in the latest global survey, Dr Rebecca Ray, Executive Vice President of Knowledge Organisation at TCB describes how the missing link to adaptation is having the right people behind the wheel.

    "Deep-seated anxieties about talent and human capital pervade this year's survey results," she said in a press release.

    "Technology continues to accelerate at an incredible pace, promising great rewards to organisations capable of seizing the initiative. To do so, they need to be aligned, agile, and innovative like never before," she concluded.

    McKinsey & Company suggest this is completely true in a recent study on the state of corporate external affairs. In fact, corporate affairs has never been seen as more important from CEOs and boards, but it is not living up to organisational needs.

    Corporate affairs vital but not delivering value 

    Nowadays, a communications specialist is a vital function in the C-Suite, however, McKinsey found that most companies hadn't actually improved their stakeholder relations capabilities in more than three years, despite massive changes in the communication landscape. A worrying amount of companies are not taking a proactive approach when they are engaging with stakeholders

    Some organisations are particularly effective with their external affairs, influencing regulators' decisions and competently managing their reputations. These companies also demonstrate far stronger capabilities at corporate affairs assignments. For instance, those deemed effective were almost twice as likely to set up a communication agendas, actively engage with external stakeholders and adequately organise their communication work. 

    So what sets those that achieve apart from those that don't? Well, the organisations who encounter regular success with external affairs are three times more likely to be very effective at attracting the right talent. Their communication specialists are also almost twice as likely to work closely with the CEO to identify and manage challenges.

    With competent communication specialists ultimately the key to delivering results through external affairs today – it has never been more important to ensure there are talented communication experts sitting in every C-Suite.

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