Like just about every corporate sacred cow, the idea of companies always needing a corporate communications department has been questioned – and re-thought. One reason might be headcount, another might be social media trends. But Wendy Marx over at Fast Company says the rules are changing because the challenges communicators face are very different than they were a decade ago:
To put it bluntly, corporate communications is the spurned stepchild of the C-suite. In many organizations, the function hardly gets the attention it deserves until the moment crisis hits. But undervaluing the importance of powerful communication is a mistake, and it’s costing some companies dearly.
“Like many other soft skills, [communication] is undervalued in corporations because it’s difficult to measure,” says Dorie Clark, author and adjunct professor of business administration at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. The skill “requires a high tolerance of ambiguity, contradiction, and subtlety (i.e., softness),” communications expert Walter G. Montgomery writes on Knowledge@Wharton, and many senior leaders prefer to reserve that kind of thinking for strategy decisions. And it doesn’t help that business schools tend to squeeze corporate communications in among heavy-duty statistics and accounting courses, even though it encompasses everything from media and community relations to internal and investor relations as well.
The truth is that the way an organization communicates can be the difference between success and failure. By now, we’re already familiar with the damage an out-of-place tweet by a CEO can do in the age of social media.
Managers need exposure to communications, especially now,” Tim Andree, executive chairman of Dentsu Aegis Network, “The communications model changes every six to seven months. There’s media convergence, new technology, and new analytics. It affects how you need to communicate and how people get their information.”