NEW YORK—Fleishman-Hillard unveiled its new corporate credibility advisory practice last week at a conference that examined the impact of new political, regulatory, and investor demands on corporate America. The practice will be led on a day-to-day basis by Peter Verrengia, president of the firm’s eastern region, and chaired by former White House chief of staff Leon Panetta.
The practice brings outside experts together with the leaders of the firm’s financial communications, public affairs, corporate reputation, and internal communications practices and offers counsel on how to enhance credibility by enacting and communicating changes in corporate governance, financial reporting, investor relations, public affairs, and regulatory relations.
“The crossroads of politics and business will remain a hazardous place for any company that does not heed the warning signals,” said John Graham, chairman and CEO of Fleishman-Hillard, explaining the rationale for the practice and the conference. “In order for businesses to properly respond to the new and growing demands for change, companies need to understand that electoral politics, public policy-making, and financial and accounting regulation are now inextricably linked in a way that has not been true for a generation or more.
“This is not a short-term phenomenon driven by losses in the stock market. The fundamental expectations for every enterprise have been reset. That creates a new demand for companies to communicate effectively with the capital markets and other critical audiences.”
Panetta, a member of the board of directors of the New York Stock Exchange and is a co-chairman of its corporate accountability and listing standards committee, was joined at the conference by Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House of Representatives; Itzhak Sharav, professor of managerial and financial accounting, Columbia Business School; and others.
Says Panetta, “Senior executives in every company, and those who advise them, need to accept these changes and examine their business strategy, organizational structure, processes, and communications to reflect the new reality, or they will pay a price in the competition for investor capital and, more broadly, in earning the public’s permission to operate.”