Today, we are witnessing the rise of a reputation economy in which social media and review sites have provided a wider space for the exchange of information; including positive and negative reviews of everything and anything you could possibly think of. According to the World Economic Forum, on average more than 25 percent of a company’s market value is directly attributable to its reputation. Reputation management has become a priority for corporate leaders, and has led to the increased importance of the corporate affairs professional and their ability to make strategic decisions. Corporate affairs directors have the responsibility to carry the heavy weight of managing a brand's relationship with the public. These leaders play the role the internal and external communications manager; this may include anything from public, government, or media relations to creating clear internal employee communications channels.
Before the rise of social media and smartphones, the role of the corporate affairs officers relied much more heavily on traditional media and gave professionals a bit more control over a company's reputation and overall presence in the public. Now, in an instant information can be shared globally. This means that the job of a corporate affairs leader is much more demanding and must be far more strategically handled than it had been in the past. Corporate affairs leaders understand that they are never off the clock, and that the job is a 24/7 responsibility.
Having this in mind, they must also have a much more well-rounded understanding of market trends, strategic planning, social media outlets, and must be able to predict potential risks and results of any public action from any angle. The job title is changing and in order to be a successful leader, corporate affairs professionals must adopt their new role with open arms.
What are the new competencies of corporate affairs?
Global Business professionals
Corporate affairs leaders need to understand every corner of their market; both within their own company and externally. According to Communications-Director “with such a dynamic business environment and the evolving influence of this role, it is no surprise that elite candidates possess more business acumen and better financial literacy. They also have a global perspective, are politically savvy, and are highly attuned to the nuances and impact of global legislative, regulatory and policy issues.”
The environment is always changing and information is constantly flowing. Corporate affairs professionals need to be able to learn the latest tools and adapt to constantly changing environments. Their ability to adapt could be the upper hand in staying on top of their market and keeping their brand one step ahead.
Open to collaborate and understand the future impact
Now more than even corporate affairs professionals are working hand in hand with the marketing team. The best of the best will understand both angles and take the extra step to establish a strong relationship between the two.
What is the relationship between corporate affairs and marketing and how is that changing?
Marketers and corporate affairs communicators can use each other's strengths to create a more comprehensive plan of action for raising visibility, delivering call to action and promoting a brand to the public. In working hand in hand and keeping the overall objective in mind, marketers and corporate affairs professionals will be able to establish consistent messaging in their communications, as well as pinpoint a common goal to create credibility for their organization.
Is the role of Corporate Affairs getting closer to a marketer?
Stuart Bruce, an International Public Relations Adviser, argues that “just because some public relations tactics and skills are an essential part of the marketing communications mix doesn’t mean that it all is. To have corporate affairs report in to marketing is to ignore all of the other essential elements of the role.” The two roles have a number of areas in which there is a definite overlap; however, there are differences and in recent years the role of the Corporate Affairs leader has gained more traction than that of marketing. In fact, it has become quite common to see the corporate affairs officer reporting directly to the executive of a company.
Is the Corporate Affairs role becoming more demanding, or expanding?
Both! The role of Corporate Affairs is both demanding and expanding in its coverage. Corp Comms Magazine claims, “what is perhaps most apparent is that corporate affairs has never before had such a broad and complex remit. In fact, amid the myriad responsibilities it can seem difficult to find any areas in which corporate affairs does not have some part to play.” Corporate affairs professionals must have eyes on the back of their heads. They must see what is happening in both their external and internal environment and be able to report all aspects of the playing field to the CEO.
How corporate affairs and marketing collectively handle the social media?
Approaching social media must be tactfully planned out. Platforms such as Facebook or Twitter are great tools to communicate messages with the public as well as work in some paid marketing ads. Since marketers and corporate affairs can use social media for their benefit, the two must establish guidelines for what falls into who's playing field. This is where strategic planning and strong communication channels can take the lead in managing a single company voice and utilizing the platforms to their highest capacity for both departments.
In order for corporate affairs to consistently perform at their best, they must stay on top of their market and establish a strong team with clear internal communications. This includes building relationship with other departments.