The power of PR and communications professionals at the board table by Susanne Martin for Institute of Directors NZ

Here are some of the reasons why having communications experts in governance roles can provide a strategic advantage for corporates.

1. Stakeholder engagement and relationship building

Successful businesses thrive on strong relationships with various stakeholders, including customers, employees, investors, regulators, shareholders and communities. PR and communications professionals possess the skills to engage and build meaningful connections with these diverse groups. By understanding stakeholder expectations and concerns, these professionals can guide corporate strategy development to ensure alignment with stakeholder needs. Their strategic insights can help shape corporate policies, strengthen relationships, and enhance the overall reputation of the organisation.

2. Branding and market positioning

A strong brand and clear market positioning are critical for gaining a competitive edge in today’s crowded marketplace. PR and communications professionals play a crucial role in shaping and managing the corporate brand. Their understanding of market dynamics, consumer behaviour, and communication channels allows them to develop effective branding strategies and positioning statements. By actively participating in the boardroom, they can contribute to key decisions related to brand architecture, messaging, and customer experience, ultimately strengthening the company’s market position.

3. Investor relations and financial communications

Transparent and effective communication is vital for maintaining shareholder confidence and attracting potential investors. PR and communications professionals who specialise in the finance sector possess the knowledge and experience to navigate the complex world of investor relations and financial communications. By understanding the expectations of the financial community and regulatory requirements, they can ensure accurate and timely dissemination of financial information, manage expectations, and enhance investor trust. Their expertise can help bridge the gap between financial performance and effective communication, positively influencing the company’s valuation.

4. Reputation protection and crisis management

Reputation is a valuable intangible asset for any organisation. A single misstep when it comes to a reputational crisis can have far-reaching consequences on a company’s bottom line and market position. PR and communications professionals bring invaluable expertise in managing and protecting a company’s reputation. Their ability to spot potential reputational risks, develop proactive crisis management strategies, and effectively communicate during challenging times can be instrumental in mitigating reputational damage and maintaining stakeholder and shareholder confidence.

5. Strategic communication

Corporate strategy and effective communication go hand in hand. PR and communications professionals bring a unique perspective to the boardroom, helping align business goals with communication objectives. By participating in strategic planning discussions, they can provide insights on how to effectively communicate key messages, differentiate the company from competitors, and maximise the impact of corporate initiatives. Their understanding of market dynamics and communication trends enables them to provide guidelines for the organisation’s communications team to align their strategies with board direction and goals.

In all these instances there could be arguments for staff within the organisation facilitating the PR and communications functions based on board directives. However, the benefits of having that experience in the boardroom ensures consistency of messaging from the board down and incorporating robust communications plans in all aspects of the board decision-making process, promoting more holistic governance.

In an era where public perception and stakeholder relationships can make or break a company, having PR and communications professionals at the board table is no longer a luxury; it’s a strategic imperative.

Alignment of these professionals to their local industry association such as PRINZ also promotes the intrinsic values of the Code of Ethics to all stakeholders. Their unique skill set, expertise in reputation management, stakeholder engagement, strategic communication planning, investor relations, and brand management can provide corporates with a competitive advantage. By leveraging their insights, businesses can effectively navigate the complex world of communication, safeguard their reputation, and thrive in an increasingly interconnected and transparent business environment. 

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