From a lingering pandemic to growing geopolitical tensions, never-ending technological disruption and an accelerating climate crisis—at no time in history have business leaders been forced to confront such complexity. Today's leaders must navigate these challenges while creating resilient companies that can thrive in any economic, social, political, or technological environment. Accordingly, there is no established playbook for the myriad of issues that corporate communications teams are now grappling with as they seek to navigate changing stakeholder expectations while advancing the business interests of their companies.

To address this void, we set out to understand from senior communicators themselves what they are experiencing on the front lines. Our research reveals that the role of the corporate communicator has forever changed, with new expectations and rules of engagement. The message from nearly 250 of the world’s most senior communicators is clear: to meet the challenge of this moment, the corporate communication function must advance from operating as a transactional cost center delivering on a communications agenda to being an indispensable partner generating measurable business value.

Some notable insights:

  1. The role of communications has become more materially important to CEOs, Boards, and the C-Suite.
  2. The modern corporate communications function is agile, multidisciplinary, and insights-driven.
  3. CommsTech is already ushering in a new era and communicators can use it to deliver quantifiable value to the business.
  4. An increased focus on the workplace, workforce, and well-being of employees isn’t a pandemic fad.
  5. Expectations around social issues have shifted the agenda — and there is no turning back.
  6. A modern organizational structure only gets you so far.
  7. Communicators are increasingly acting as change agents, enabling ongoing transformation.
  8. The lines between communications and marketing continue to blur, creating new challenges and opportunities.
  9. In an increasingly complex and activist multi-stakeholder world, the corporate brand matters now more than ever.
  10. While the importance of the communications function is increasing, resources to deliver are lagging.

Further exploration of these insights, along with a rich compendium of additional research findings, benchmark data, and a playbook of tactics, can be found in the Edelman 2021 Future of Corporate Communications Study.


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