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The Strategic Communication Imperative

The authors contend that a number of factors, both external and internal, are increasingly necessitating a strategic approach to corporate communications. Yet, despite regulatory imperatives, organizational complexities and a growing need for companies to increase their credibility with their various constituencies, many companies still take a tactical, short-term approach to communication that is not only nonstrategic but may, in fact, be inconsistent with the corporate strategy or even impede it.

The authors conducted more than 50 interviews with CEOs, CFOs and heads of corporate communications and investor relations at companies that represent the state of the art in corporate communications (Dell, FedEx and PepsiCo), companies that have faced and survived major crises (Cendant, Knight Trading and Textron), and some that are great corporate communicators but not usually recognized for their efforts (Cognex, Infosys, Jet Blue, the New York Times Co. and Playboy Enterprises). They also included a pharmaceutical company (GlaxoSmithKline), given the formidable communications issues in that industry.

On the basis of that research, the authors offer best practice lessons and a framework to enable executives to think carefully about their organization’s objectives for each specific communication, determine which constituencies are critical to meeting that objective and understand what kinds of messages to deliver through which channel.

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