Listen, learn and take action

It struck me on Friday, following your cover story “Bullet Proof?” (MW April 26), that there were possibly two scenarios being played out across the corridors of power in corporate Britain. One features the marketing or corporate communications director photocopying your feature and leaving it with the chief executive’s PA, with an urgent memo requesting a meeting as soon as possible. The second is the said chief executive speed-reading the feature and scribbling a note saying “make it an agenda item at our next meeting”, while muttering under his breath: “There for the grace of some all-powerful one go we!”

We all know that this scene has been played out before and will be again, every time an article like this runs in the press. But what action is taken? Very little, I suspect. Until, as you so rightly point out, “the next exploitation outrage hits the media” and corporate ethics become a boardroom agenda item again.

But, as these “outrages” are invariably restricted to a handful of household brand names, we could be doing more damage than good. Other boards can fall in to the trap of thinking that “it’s only the big boys that are the focus of campaigners and the media”. I am sure that promoting the ostrich approach was not the intention of the piece, but it may possibly be the outcome.

Boards should embrace their consumers and actively seek their opinions. The power within a business no longer sits solely with the finance department and the stock exchange. Far from it. Stakeholder groups – including consumers, suppliers, community associations, non-governmental organisations, lobbyists and campaigners – are wrestling their way to the bridge and will take command using every communications tool available to them unless boards act now and invite them to offer their perspective.

And this is where things get tricky. To hear and not to listen is a cardinal sin. That is not to say that every piece of counsel offered by a stakeholder must be acted upon. But to offer a forum for discussion and then take little or no tangible action is corporate suicide. Listen, learn, absorb, reflect and act appropriately.

Claire Davidson

Strategic communications director

Lion

London EC2

Latest from Marketing Week

NOT REGISTERED? IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here