What keeps clients awake nights?
Every month, The Holmes Report asks a senior corporate communications professional to identify the biggest challenges they face. This month, we kick off this new feature by talking to Mike Love, senior director of corporate communications for Microsoft in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.
The issue at the top of Love’s agenda is “the perennial challenge and always close to the top of my priorities list is measurement and evaluation: how to best calculate the impact of our communications activities, the return on investment and the real changes in opinion and behaviour achieved in support of business objectives. This is a difficult enough challenge for communicators working in single country markets, it is magnified by the international dimension.”
Second, Love worries about “engaging our employees across more than 100 countries and a dozen product groups so they live the brand beyond their immediate sphere of interest. In large multibrand corporations it is often challenging to communicate ‘one organisation’ messages. People are understandably very focused on their own area of responsibility within a geography or a product group. There is a big internal communication challenge to engage people across the organisation as one company.”
Third, Love believes that “social media or blogging takes communication to new levels of immediacy of action, democratisation of comment and news, accessibility to decision-makers and opinion leaders and employee engagement. Where big companies and big issues are concerned every body has an opinion - and everybody can now take direct action through the web to argue a case or point of view. The effect of this communication is still difficult to assess, but it is an exciting development and a great opportunity to communicate in different ways. The significance to crisis and issues management is very clear - speed of communication is a threat and an opportunity.”
Fourth, he says, “a significant amount of my time is devoted to developing our strategic communications planning and to team and agency management. I have eight direct reports in my EMEA corporate communications team and (very) indirect reports from 20 business/product group PR managers and over 60 subsidiary country PR teams. We work with five agencies on corporate communications issues and many more across the product groups and subsidiaries. I am directly or indirectly responsible for all of this activity. Inevitably, senior communications roles become more management focused in large companies.”
And finally, Love says he’s always “thinking about the next big thing. What will be our next issues challenge or opportunity? How will our next big product launch be received? What are the lessons to be learnt from our existing scope of work that will improve our performance in the next year? What are other PR leaders doing that I can steal! This is the sort of input my managers and executives want to hear - how will Communications make a difference to our business.”