Increasingly, head of corporate affairs executives are a crucial part of the leadership team, as organisations are recognising the importance of the role in strategic decision-making processes and wider company policy.
With an expanding remit and more responsibility, the role of corporate affairs is no longer simply managing wider communications that come from within the organisation. They must manage cross-functional teams that incorporate media relations, brand marketing, employee engagement and so much more.
What issues do heads of corporate affairs face across their new range of responsibilities?
1) Multiple channels of communication
Technology and the platforms we use are constantly changing. No corporate affairs director can expect to grasp how to manage brand reputation today and expect that their methods and tools will still be applicable in ten years time. Corporate affairs directors need to organise their teams to be across all kinds of media, from traditional print to social media.
They need to be adapting ahead of everybody else, working out what issues could face their organisation as new technologies change the way their brand is publicly represented.
2) Lack of technical skills
Technical skills haven't necessarily been a key requirement for the role in the past. However, with the speed at which the online world has developed, without technical skills in their team, corporate affairs heads face issues in keeping track of just what messages are out there about their brand. A data analyst is crucial in monitoring what's happening outside the control of the organisation's brand management to mitigate the real PR risks. Across the team, it's important that everyone understands the basics of analytics and how to use online marketing tools to get a message in front of key online audiences.
3) Messages from outside the organisation
With the rise of the internet, information – positive or negative – can make it around the globe in minutes. It's easy to share, and it's not always clear where the message has come from, whether it's true or false.
While there's always been an element of crises management in corporate affairs, executives are now having to adapt to managing more messages that are out of their control than ever before. Brand information is no longer distributed top-down, from the organisation to the media and then to the masses, as it was before the internet made sharing so easy.
4) Stakeholder and employee dissatisfaction
The saying 'keep your friends close but your enemies closer' is particularly relevant for corporate affairs managers. Employees and key stakeholders are your best brand ambassadors when they have something positive to day, and your worst enemy when they're unhappy.
When something goes wrong in this department corporate affairs teams have to know what pain points to address and how, according to the values of their internal stakeholders.