The Importance of Dedicated Communications Leadership in Today’s Business Environment

Key Takeaways

1. Communications and marketing have different value propositions, with marketing focusing on short-term demand generation and PR focusing on long-term brand awareness.

2. Overworked marketing departments may neglect communications initiatives, highlighting the need for a dedicated communications leader.

3. Communications plays a crucial role in both internal and external messaging and should be given more attention and resources.

The Friction Between Communications and Marketing

Communications and marketing are two distinct functions within an organization, each with its own value proposition and goals. While marketing focuses on short-term demand generation and driving sales, communications is responsible for building and maintaining long-term brand awareness and reputation. This fundamental difference in objectives can often lead to friction between the two departments.

Marketing teams are typically focused on driving immediate results and meeting sales targets. They may prioritize tactics that generate quick wins, such as paid advertising and promotions. On the other hand, communications teams are concerned with building a strong brand image and reputation over time. They focus on strategic messaging, media relations, and public perception.

This friction can arise when communications is placed under the leadership of marketing. Marketing leaders may prioritize short-term tactics and overlook the long-term brand-building efforts that communications teams are responsible for. This can result in missed opportunities for building a strong brand and reputation.

The Need for Dedicated Communications Leadership

As organizations face budget cuts and the impact of the recession, it becomes even more crucial to have dedicated leadership in communications. Overworked marketing departments often act as catch-alls for various tasks, including communications. This can lead to communications initiatives being neglected or given less priority.

Having a dedicated chief communications officer or VP of communications can help ensure that communications efforts receive the attention and resources they deserve. This leader can focus on developing and executing a comprehensive communications strategy that aligns with the organization’s overall goals and objectives.

Furthermore, a communications leader with seniority and authority can advocate for the importance of communications within the organization. They can educate the C-suite and other stakeholders on the value of strategic communications and the impact it can have on the organization’s reputation and bottom line.

The Role of Communications in Internal and External Messaging

Communications is not just about external messaging and media relations. It also plays a crucial role in internal communications and employee engagement. Effective internal communications can help align employees with the organization’s mission and values, improve morale, and foster a sense of belonging and purpose.

Collaboration between communications and HR is essential in ensuring consistent and effective internal messaging. Communications can support HR initiatives such as employee engagement surveys, change management communications, and internal events.

Externally, communications is responsible for managing the organization’s reputation and public perception. This includes media relations, crisis communications, and strategic messaging. Communications leaders provide strategic counsel to the C-suite and other executives, helping them navigate complex issues and communicate effectively with stakeholders.


In today’s fast-paced and competitive business environment, communications should not be overlooked or treated as a secondary function. It is a critical component of building and maintaining a strong brand and reputation. Organizations should consider restructuring and creating a dedicated chief communications officer or VP of communications to ensure that communications efforts receive the attention and resources they deserve.

By recognizing the distinct value proposition of communications and allowing it to operate independently, organizations can harness the power of strategic messaging and build a strong brand that resonates with stakeholders. The role of communications is not limited to external messaging but also extends to internal communications and employee engagement. Collaboration with HR is crucial in ensuring consistent and effective messaging both internally and externally.

Executives in 2023 need to recognize the importance of communications and the need for dedicated leadership in this area. By doing so, they can position their organizations for success in an increasingly competitive and interconnected world.

Written by Martin Cole

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