Welcome to the first edition of the Brunswick Review, our new periodical devoted to the field of corporate relations and corporate communications.
Not surprisingly, Brunswick has always believed that good communications is vital for a vibrant business and financial community. One reason we have launched this publication now is the growing rangeand sophistication of audiences that organizations have to address – a develop-ment that has created new and often conflicting pressures. Another is the way that the globalization of capital markets and the technology and media revolutions have transformed the agenda of the chief executive, more than 30 per cent of whose time is typically spent on corporate and investor relations.
Given the growing complexity of the issues, we think it important to stimulate new thinking and to try to capture the insights we have gained from working with many of the world’s great companies.
Perhaps the most spectacular changes have been in the capital markets, which have not only grown exponentially in recent years but have become vastly more unpredictable. Hedge funds, private equity funds, sovereign wealth funds andshareholder activists were all peripheral to the equity markets until relatively recently – they remain powerful players today despite questioning over their future roles. Debt markets are in the grip of a liquidity squeeze beyond anything most of our greatest, or most pessimistic minds imagined even a year ago.
In the media, technology has created a world of non-stop news cycles, integrated media platforms and instant connectivity. To these structuralchanges we can now add a more cyclical downturn in advertising revenues. With the decline in the number of journalists in traditional media – and the competition for breaking news from a profusion of new broadcast and online media sources – it is clear that media relations requires much greater inspiration than before.
Environmental and consumer protection issues, meanwhile, havebeen driving regulation and legislation, especially where new governments have been elected. The financial crisis has led to a step change in the level of engagement with the public sector, something we see in every territory where we operate but most particularly in the agenda setting capitals of Washington and Brussels.
Many of the changes are increasing the demands on managementfor more effective internal communication and internal relations. This is not just a defensive activity to keep people informed in difficult times. Being able to articulate and engage people around the values and purpose of an organization is now widely accepted as essential to a company’s long term survival and success.
At Brunswick we have had the privilege of advising companies on all these issues all over the world. As a private, organically built partnership we are by nature discreet. We have built our business through client satisfaction and referral and have never had a brochure. With the Brunswick Review, however, we aim to demonstrate that while good communication is a much greater challenge than it used to be, ambitious and well informed managementscan succeed.
We are especially grateful to the eminent business leaders who have contributed their ideas to this first edition. They have given generously of their time and we hope their wise thoughts will be particularly valuable to our readers. If there are issues you would find interesting for future discussion, please let us know. We feel we have a broad and exciting canvas to work on.
Thank you for your interest.
Alan Parker – Chairman, Brunswick Group