A golden age of corporate communications

Posted in News and Events on 1 April 2019 By Steve Kemp, CEO and Co-Founder

On Wednesday morning, I had the honour of opening the market and delivering the keynote at the London Stock Exchange Communications Masterclass.

Photograph courtesy of Layton Thompson Photography

A surreal and humbling experience, it marked just how far Emperor has come in the last 23 years, since Noel and I, armed with a laptop, set out to start a business.

The day featured some fantastic speakers and interesting discussions around subjects such as employee engagement, responding to crisis and how technology is changing the world of communications for companies. It was a fascinating and informative day.

Over the course of my career, I have had the great privilege of advising hundreds of companies on their communications challenges and having a front row seat to the numerous challenges and developments in the industry.

Just over a quarter of a century ago, the Cadbury Code was introduced. Companies were directed to behave more responsibly and the phrase ‘corporate governance’ entered modern business parlance for the first time. Since then our world has never stood still. Business accountability has moved way beyond retrospective financial reporting to a world of sophisticated corporate and stakeholder communications.

Every year there’s more to talk about and to ever more audiences. Companies are now required to engage with all their stakeholders, not just shareholders, but employees, customers, suppliers and the communities in which they operate. And the pressure to be accountable for social, environmental and economic impacts continues apace.

That is why I believe we are now in a ‘golden age’ of corporate communications.

Photograph courtesy of Layton Thompson Photography

Transparency has become the only valid currency for reputation management. But it’s not enough for companies to be good, or indeed do good. They have to ensure they own their story and manage perception, even some conflicting perceptions, on a myriad of fronts.

There is a war for talent, and companies are under a microscope like never before. Alongside greater regulatory disclosure, all businesses are being opened to public scrutiny and with the rise of social media there is a window into every organisation.

Larry Fink stated in his latest annual letter to CEOs, “Stakeholders are pushing companies to wade into sensitive social and political issues – especially as they see governments failing to do so effectively ... the world needs your leadership.” He added that “Profits are in no way inconsistent with purpose – in fact, profits and purpose are inextricably linked.”

At Emperor, our core business is corporate reporting and the two questions we are most frequently asked are: “What’s the point?” and, “When will the requirement to produce an annual report cease?” We firmly believe that the physical report isn't where value is derived, rather it is the management discipline of developing the report where its true worth lies. In Executive, Finance, HR, and Sustainability teams coming together to present a compelling, clear and consistent story of their business. In the extensive verbal and visual assets generated for broader use in corporate communications, to inform and inspire the broadest church of stakeholder audiences.

Emperor continues to diversify from its core focus on corporate reporting to reflect the developing communications landscape. We are developing a much deeper and broader suite of services around stakeholder engagement, particularly the corporate brand narrative, employee engagement and ESG communications. This is what makes our business so interesting.

 

The presentations from the day are available to view separately here.

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