5 steps to improve corporate communications

This essential function is gaining prominence among upper-tier leadership, but it’s not happening everywhere, and the voice remains muffled overall. Try these approaches.

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To put it bluntly, corporate communications is the spurned stepchild of top-tier executives.

In many organizations, the function hardly gets the attention it deserves—until a crisis hits. Undervaluing the importance of powerful communication is a mistake, and it’s costing some companies dearly.

“Like many other soft skills, [communication] is undervalued in corporations, because it’s difficult to measure,” says Dorie Clark, author and adjunct professor of business administration at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

The skill “requires a high tolerance of ambiguity, contradiction and subtlety (i.e., softness),” communications expert Walter G. Montgomery writes on Knowledge@Wharton, and many senior leaders prefer to reserve that kind of thinking for strategic decisions.

It doesn’t help that business schools tend to squeeze corporate communications in among heavy-duty statistics and accounting courses, even though it encompasses everything from media and community relations to internal and investor relations.

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