Leaders in Communications

5 November 2015, London

Polly Neate, Chief Executive, Women's Aid

  • How do you see the role of communications in the wider business agenda?
    No organisation can succeed without communicating well. Everyone knows that of course, yet we all still fall down sometimes. So that must be because good communications, or good stakeholder management, hasn’t become second nature. And that in turn might be because somewhere there’s a disconnect between message and reality. I think comms professionals need to get under the skin of the business they are in, not just understanding how comms can help the business achieve its stated objectives, but understanding the culture of that business, its people, its products or services, the users of those products or services, its competitors and partners, why its people think and behave the way they do. Then understanding whether the way the organisation communicates reflects that reality. If not, those differences may well be the key to understanding the problem. Also, be at least as financially competent as any other leader in the organisation.
  • What would your recommendation on developing effective Comms/CEO relationships be?
    Well, you should be able to sell the benefits and absolute necessity of your role to the CEO. If you can’t, then you can’t be a very good communicator. In my limited experience it’s not the CEO who undervalues the comms function. They might think they know more than they do, but then again they might know more than you…
  • What session, other than your own, are you most looking forward to at Leaders In Communications?
    The one on reputation management. This is a particularly important and complex area for charities. Actually I think corporates can learn a lot from us, the stakeholder picture in a national charity is so complex – but I’m sure I can learn a lot from them too.
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