On May 5, in Montreal, SYRUS Vice President and Associate Hugues Mousseau invited three CEOs, Ralph Hosker (Belron Canada), Eugène Lapierre (Rogers Cup/Tennis Canada) and Luc Sabbatini (PBSC Urban Solutions), to take part in a panel where the question of whether business communicators are positioned to be the next chief strategy officers will be answered.

This panel was presented to more than 1,300 delegates from 30 countries at the annual conference of the International Association of Business Communicators.

A survey conducted among business leaders

The panel opened with the presentation of the preliminary results of a survey involving business leaders from 11 different sectors and five countries. According to the survey conducted by SYRUS, 84% of the business leaders who were interviewed said that the contribution of business communicators is essential or absolutely essential to the achievement of business objectives, while 92% of respondents are of the opinion that the budgets allocated to the communication function generate a positive return on investment. In this same study, respondents were asked to identify the five main barriers to an even more strategic contribution from communicators:

  1. Budget/financial resources
  2. Team expertise/experience
  3. Corporate culture
  4. Business acumen
  5. Understanding of business objectives

Finally, respondents identified the three responsibilities for which business communicators were most essential for business leaders:

  1. Reputation promotion
  2. Reputation protection
  3. Employee engagement

The panelists’ main messages

Asked to comment on many aspects of the contribution of corporate communicators, the panelists all agreed that the main communicator of an organization must always be its highest executive. Although it was not necessarily essential a few years ago, today it has become unavoidable due to the growth of social media and the expectations of companies for transparency and social engagement.

The three business leaders also reiterated the importance of considering the role of people who, within the company, are in direct contact with customers. According to the panelists, these front-line people need to be mentored, empowered and encouraged to ensure they represent and embody the values and business philosophy in each of their interactions; after all, they are the ambassadors of the company on a daily basis.

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