Friday, 13 November 2015


The Swiss regional group of EACD -European Association of Communication Directors- met up last November 3rd 2015 at DuPont in Geneva to discuss about gaining a steady place for Communicators on the Boards of Directors.

room for meetings of the board of directors
Communicators should have a place in the Board of Directors

From the discussion, 8 points were listed as “key takeaways”. Here they are with a few comments of mine.

1. Communicators should be seasoned and rounded experts who understand all topics discussed in the boardroom.
Only experienced and prepared people should seat at such a table. Understanding, anyway, comes by taking a favourable point of view and must be mutual.

2. Communicators should consider functional mobility to acquire business acumen.
You can be a legitimate member of the board of an organization only if you are aware of the organization itself. So, experiencing different sides of it, is a smart solution not only for communicators.

3. Communicators have to build a trust relationship with the CEO and become the trusted advisors.
This is an awkward point. I would say yes, because to be a productive member of the board you should have a positive relation with all other members, first of all with its head. But I would also say no, because you should not link the presence of communication at the board table to personal issues. The point is about functions, not individuals.

4. Communications strategy should reflect the business strategy.
Translating business strategy into communication strategy is an important and delicate process that only specialists should do, as long as professionalism at all stages is a relevant issue for the organization. This process works also in the reverse way, picking up information for making new business strategies. That system is not to be taken for granted and is what makes Communication strategic within an organization.

5. Communicators should embed metrics that reflect the impact of the Communications Strategy on the top line and bottom line of the company.
Measurement of results is the ultimate tool for Communication to assert itself. The very problem is the protean nature of what you are measuring. It is hard to find a right and steady scale. A measurement system for Communication goes along with business strategy goals and priorities (see point n.4). At the end, it seems you just cannot once-and-for-all turn all communication into top and bottom line.

6. Communicators should speak the language of the business and translate the intangible assets value into bottom line.
Another awkward point. From my point of view, Communication is an asset that looks like a facility or an insurance. Contributing to the bottom line is not the whole thing. Communication builds also a wealth of relations and information difficult to say how worth it is, unless you use it. One thing is sure, you have to treasure before drawing from. Focusing on the bottom line is necessary and yet reductive.

7. Communications function should move from a cost to a profit centre by putting a value on the reputation of the company.
This is the main point. The outcomes must be shown, the influence on reputation and its importance pointed out. This is a great challenge both for communication professionals and organizations. All the wealth made with communication must have a clear value. I firmly believe that ROI then, will be a great surprise.

8. Communicators should educate management and colleagues as to the strategic role of the communications.
We as communicators believe to be ready to enter certain environments. Are those environments ready to accept us? We are making our own way and it is our task to educate others and make them fully aware of the benefits of professional communication. In turn, it is our duty to be educated to other aspects of the Organizations. In any case, the advantage will be mutual.