Now that the 2015 election is over with we can all get back to normal – whatever that means!?
Election fever has gripped the country for the past few months as we have watched the most uncertain election result for a century unfold. As interesting and nail-biting as it’s been I get the sense everyone is rather pleased not to have their football/golf/reality TV show/Strictly Come Whatever delayed or bumped entirely from the schedule as yet another party political debate overruns.
According to economists there was a slowdown in growth at the start of the year. VMA Group had a very busy Q1 across the business but it was noticeably quieter at the senior end of the market than we have seen for a while, with fewer roles coming to market at Director and Head of level than in Q1 last year. Not surprisingly then, we also saw fewer senior communicators changing roles than this time last year. It was a similar scenario at the senior end of the Investor Relations market; in spite of the plethora of IPOs lining up at the start of the year, only a fraction of those actually made it to market; 7th May became a kind of watershed for when companies would look to list. Many hundreds of column inches were devoted to what the potential implications would be for businesses post- election and all this speculation and uncertainty (the term ‘election jitters’ became a buzzword) translated into a pervasive sense of the markets collectively holding their breath. Small wonder then that companies weren’t looking to bolster their comms teams at the senior end and for those firms who came to market, VMA Executive has long observed that very few of them bring in their in-house communications and investor relations support sufficiently early in the process, so these new listings aren’t always the precursor to a new senior level role being created.
Now that the big day has come and gone, and whatever your mood may be following the outcome, at least it’s out of the way. Political and macro-economic events, commodities prices and unemployment rates will all collectively have an effect on the way in which organisations conduct their business but there are some things which continue to take place, governed by the laws of nature, and not the laws of a political constitution: the seasons change, birds migrate, earthquakes reek devastation and destroy lives and babies are born (although, the birth of one particular baby did eclipse the election for a few days which was a welcome relief).
Whatever happens, organisations continue to communicate with their customers, their employees and the markets and to manage their reputations through an ever-increasing smorgasbord of channels. Lack of a strategic communications programme, or worse still, a mis-guided or badly executed one is no longer an option and nor is not communicating at all, as we saw in the financial downturn when many companies thought, mistakenly, that in the absence of anything good to say, best to say nothing at all. Senior communicators are an ambitious breed and by their very nature and skill-set are articulate and vocal. They do – or should – have the ear of senior management, they should be expected to fulfil the role internally of ‘trusted advisor’ and ‘critical friend’. Always.
According to the economists the slowdown in growth seen at the start of the year was temporary. Seems they might have been right – with the economy growing again, the election out of the way and the TV schedules back to normal, VMA Executive has noticed that senior level roles are on the up again. Now that’s something to celebrate.
By Lisa Wannell
Principal Consultant, VMA Executive
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