Steering the ship: Corporate Affairs during a global pandemic

by Rowland

Published on
June 5, 2020

At a time when authenticity and altruism are not only expected — but demanded — by consumers, it’s become clear that the power of communication and genuine relationships are more than earning their place on the COVID-19 response and recovery agenda.

In fact, as we heard in Rowland’s first Corporate Affairs Discussion Forum — bringing together a panel of highly regarded corporate affairs practitioners across a range of industries — in some sectors and companies, communication is leading the agenda and steering the required operational response. And we couldn’t be more excited.

Joining us in our excitement were panellists:

  • Kelly Robinson — Chief Marketing and Communication Officer, The University of Queensland
  • Vincent Cosgrove — General Manager of People and External Affairs, Hastings Deering
  • Rachel Crowley — Executive General Manager Communications & Public Affairs, Brisbane Airport Corporation
  • Brian West — Global Managing Director for Crisis Management, Fleishman Hillard
  • Geoff Rodgers — Founder and Chairman, Rowland

So we put it to them — on the road to recovery, and as we get ahead of the curve, what are the big opportunities and challenges across your sector?

While the responses were, of course, unique to each organisation and sector (scroll to the end for highlights from each panellist), some common themes emerged:

  • Collaboration to achieve consistency — only through the alignment of organisational, industry body and governmental messaging across industry sectors can we communicate effectively with our audiences by reducing ambiguity and conflicting streams of information.
  • Leadership communication is a top-down approach — how our executive teams communicate with their internal teams, stakeholders and customers is becoming increasingly important in generating authenticity, transparency, and ultimately, brand trust.
  • Re-engineering the traditional business model — the pandemic has compressed the transformation process for many businesses forced to adopt a digital mindset, or face redundancy in this new world.

See the video below for the full answers to this question, as well as responses to how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the communication industry and our role as advisors.

Rowland. Webinar – Getting ahead of the curve – Corporate Affairs Discussion forum from Rowland. on Vimeo.

Short on time? We’ve summarised even more from the video here:

Kelly Robinson — Chief Marketing and Communication Officer, The University of Queensland
A mandatory digital revolution thrust upon Australia’s traditional tertiary education industry has fast-tracked online learning in a way we have never seen before, forcing the industry to re-think the conventional face-to-face business model.

Vincent Cosgrove — General Manager of People and External Affairs, Hastings Deering
With the consumer market taking a major downturn in sales and revenue, companies are having to balance a cautious approach to navigating the economic aftermath with the confidence to capitalise on opportunities as they arise.

Rachel Crowley — Executive General Manager Communications & Public Affairs, Brisbane Airport Corporation
A 97 per cent decrease in airline passengers has catalysed a new-found collaboration between airports, airlines and retailers, with consistency in messaging around passenger safety and protocol taking on increased importance to ensure customer assuredness.

Brian West — Global Managing Director for Crisis Management, Fleishman Hillard
The true economic impact of the pandemic has not come to fruition, as a wave of ‘artificial’ government support may be leading the business sector into a false sense of financial security.

Geoff Rodgers — Founder and Chairman, Rowland
As business and the way we do it has changed fundamentally overnight, the power of digitalisation and brand reputation management has come to the forefront in making genuine connections with our increasingly scrutinising audiences.

If you have a topic for a future Corporate Affairs Discussion hosted by Rowland, please get in touch.