BLCS Survey 2014: Staff engagement climbs up comms directors' agenda

Internal comms has overtaken media relations in the top three most important roles of the corporate communications function, according to the VMA-commissioned Business Leaders in Communications survey.

AstraZeneca: won the PRWeek Global Award for Employee Communications in May
AstraZeneca: won the PRWeek Global Award for Employee Communications in May

The latest BLCS survey, seen exclusively by PRWeek ahead of its publication next week, polls more than 250 comms directors in Europe-based organisations and follows the 2012 study also commissioned by executive recruiter VMA Group. 

It shows that reputation management is seen as more crucial than ever, with 94 per cent of respondents identifying it as one of the three most important roles of the comms function in their organisation; this is up from 88 per cent in 2012.

But the main shift is in the respective preoccupation with employees and the media of the respondents, many of whom work for large companies such as British Gas, Nestlé and Rolls-Royce.

While in 2012 media relations was named by 46 per cent as one of the three most important roles, in 2014 this has slipped to 36 per cent.

Meanwhile, 57 per cent chose ‘building a strong, loyal, well-informed and engaged workforce’ this year as opposed to 39 per cent opting for ‘internal communications’ in 2012.

Richard Taylor, director of corporate affairs and comms at Morrisons, said: "The growing expectations for strong internal communications that are integrated with external communications as the complexity of audiences increases, demonstrates the importance of reputation management to business success."

The difference in wording of the 2012 and 2014 surveys may have played a part in the change: the 2012 survey asked about ‘media relations’ and this year’s asked about ‘shaping perceptions of the business in the external media’.

The 2012 survey polled 95 comms leaders working for organisations including Diageo, O2 and the UK Border Agency.

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