WEDNESDAY 25 JAN 2012 4:13 PM


On Tuesday 24 January, VMA Group presented the Business Leaders in Communications Study 2012, which the group hopes will establish the first industry benchmarking standard to help corporate communicators with performance management.

The study asked 95 senior communicators about role of the communications function in their organisation. 65% of respondents named reputation management as the most important role and 88% listed it as one of the top three roles.

"Reputation management is just a rebrand of corporate communications which was previously public relations and before that, the press office," says Tom Watson, professor of public relations at Bournemouth University.

David Bickerton, director of communications at BP, believes that this view of the function of comms is a positive thing but also believes that understanding information flow is vital. He comments, “I could rebrand myself as an information flow professional.”

John Smythe, founding partner of Engage for Change argues that "Reputation is the outcome of business activity, not the role of communications." He asks whether comms is there to do the business’ bidding or to challenge the business and look at the stakeholders interests.

The report launch event featured an address from Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership in which he described comms as a cultural lever.

"What we set out to do was to produce a study which would be the tip of the iceberg," says Nick Grant, founder director of MediaTrack which designed and hosted the research.