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CAS2015 delivers the goods

 

Foxtel’s Megan Thomas attended the 2015 Corporate Affiars Summit and walked away with knowledge and new friends that will last her for years.

 

CAS2015, wow! This was one of the more impressive forums for Corporate Affairs  people I’ve ever been too. I came away with a notebook full of nuggets and a twitter feed full of useful soundbites and slide shots I’ll certainly be referring back to.

One of the first things that struck me was the collective smarts and creativity of all the people in the room. I hope someone had a raised a risk on a register somewhere, that if a crisis were to arise in an Australian company over those 2 days, sorry but, all the Corporate Affairs  people were out for the day!

There were so many things I’ve taken away from the conference, but here’s a couple of my overall observations:

Scale. The impressive scale and breath of things we get to be involved with as communicators – enormous mines that can be seen from space, construction of a whole city’s infrastructure like Rio, in preparation for the 2016 Olympics, and mind bogglingly large, fun events like Disney’s Super Fan D23 Expo. We are indeed privileged and fortunate to be in roles that give us these broad perspectives, and require us to step up and lead the global challenge of communication.

Speed.  This one goes hand in hand with technology with several presenters talking about the rate of digital change, the 24/7 nature of comms, the speed of the news cycle, and the need to stay on top of it all. Can it get any faster without bending the space-time continuum?, teases Jason Laird on #TheCAS. And what does this need to be ‘always on’ mean from a safety perspective posed Rio Tinto’s Simone Niven – when staying awake for 16 hours is equivalent to drinking 3 beers.

This (speed, not beer J) had me reflecting back on a point made earlier in the day by BlueScope Steel’s Gerry Tidd on the importance of carving out time for strategic thinking, (which come to think of it, is often enhanced over beer).  Gerry said he spends 30% of his time reading, thinking and talking. OK I admit, I am envious. I am attempting to step off my treadmill and I’m channelling Gerry right now!

Commercial relevance. Alignment to strategy, making sure we are operating in the truly transformational space, not just the transactional, knowing your business by spending time with your stakeholders and being on the ground. These are all essential items in our toolkits. Corporate Affairs people who are getting this right ARE seen as commercially valuable, strategic business partners, and we are increasingly being recognised for it. The word ‘fluff’ is banned and shall not enter the conversation any longer. Go us!

Fear. Is not particularly useful in a crisis, according to Yancoal’s James Rickard. “You’re either adding value or you’re taking up space”. Yikes, better make sure I know how to add value then! I walked away feeling quite fortunate that I haven’t had to deal with crisis on the same scale as some others – like the Ebola virus, landslides, and fatal accidents , however now feel less fearful and armed with some excellent practical advice that can be applied in any crisis event.  Having a plan, listening, being emphatic and responding quickly (and accurately) were all key components. Knowing also that sometimes you’re just going to have to ‘take a hit’, and managing expectations about this by building it into your plan, was a nice little nugget too.

Speaking of fear, a couple of facts I was quite shocked by:

  • 60% viewers fall off a video in under 3 seconds (so if you can’t say it in under 15 seconds don’t bother).
  • 53% of millennials would rather lose their sense of smell than their technology
  • Every two days we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilisation up to 2003. Eric Schmidt.

Great perspective for all of us competing for our customers, shareholder’s and employee’s share of mind! But maybe all we need to do as Communicators really just boils down to the one statement made by Isentia’s Richard Spencer that our role is to “Create content that users want to consume, engage with and share.”  Whilst this is easy to say I think we’d all agree it is a much more difficult task to achieve.  One that will surely keep all of us inspired, challenged and gainfully employed well into the future!

Oh and there was very nice cakes, and Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream too!

Thanks to the organisers, speakers and everyone who made this such a worthwhile event. Hope to see you again next year.

 

 

About Megan Thomas

Megan is Director Internal Communications & Events at Foxtel. She has over 20 years’ experience in communication and currently leads Foxtel’s Internal Communication and Events team. This involves executive and leadership communication, and finding creative ways to engage Foxtel people in the company vision and strategy. Megan is passionate about the role internal communication can play in building brand advocates, and influencing behaviour to achieve measurable business outcomes.

 

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