Boyd Neil, Hill & Knowlton‘s Senior Vice-President, Corporate Communications, says the looming economic troubles means the time is now for public relations professionals to bring their unique talents to the corporate table.
“There will be cuts,” he says matter-of-factly. “That’s because communications people, when cutbacks are threatened, tend to put their heads in the sand and duck. That’s absolutely the wrong thing to do. This is precisely the time you have to prove your worth.”
That’s part of the reason that Hill & Knowlton launched their Global Corporate Response group last week. The team, composed of H&K executives from around the world and led by Chairman and CEO Paul Taaffe, will coach corporations through the coming economic storm through reputation building, change management, and improving employee communications.
“It was developed out of a recognition that there’s going to be a fallout in corporations-a significant impact on people’s trust,” Neil says. “We saw the opportunity for PR professionals-we know how to maintain trust.”
It’s the goal of Hill & Knowlton to show that communicators are not only useful contributors during economic slowdowns, they’re absolutely essential.
“We need to think like business people, we have to have that understanding, and we need to show how to integrate social media tools,” Neil says, adding that many corporations still don’t realize how inexpensive and useful social media tools are to improving employee communications.
The Global Corporate Response group’s services have been offered to existing Hill & Knowlton clients, and Neil says their primary market will be in the U.S. and the U.K.
“Now is the time for communicators to show they’re vital to guiding corporations through a tight economy.”