Category Crisis communications

Instructive: What do chairmen and chief executives expect of their communications directors?

Headhunters Ellwood and Atfield recently published the results of a survey they undertook with chairmen and chief executives designed to see how the role of communications director is evolving. The report is interesting reading as much for the people who responded – they include Sir Win Bischoff of Lloyds, Sir Christopher Gent of GSK, Dennis Holt of the Bank of Ireland and Hector Sants of the FSA – as what they said.

In summary, chief executives and chairmen clearly recognise the value the communication function provides, whether through managing investor, media, government, employee or other stakeholder relations. However, when it comes to rating the relative importance of the individual disciplines within the function, views vary considerably depending on the organisation’s particular circumstances.


Inspired: Own the story like Letterman

So, you’re the CEO of a highly visible and highly successful company. Your personal reputation is almost irrevocably linked to your corporate brand. You’ve been at the top of your game for years with a loyal following of customers.

But here’s the rub: you’ve also been having sex with members of your staff for years. Worse, someone has found out and is now blackmailing you for 2 million dollars. They’re threatening not just to go public with the information but to write a screenplay about it, which they will tout around your industry and amongst your peers.

By any measure, this is something of a communications challenge. The facts are personally embarrassing but – worse- could damage the crucial rapport you have have with your customers. Perhaps you should issue a denial? Pay the man? Mitigate the story by getting your wife and friends to issue statements of support?

What do you do?

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“My name’s Andrew and I’m in marketing.”

From large networking events to small dinner parties, I’ve uttered that line more times than I care to remember. It’s normally met with a smile and a swift transition to another topic.