With all the discussion in marketing and communications circles about the importance of Content, the real factor in strengthening engagement internally and a positive disposition about your company and products externally is actually Context!

Context matters in a world where information is ubiquitous and meaning is often lost in 140 character messages and on-the-go texts.

So why is it that organizations are not making the link between Content and Context?

In our latest CommonSense…for the C-Suite we provide a contextual perspective on this very important subject…


Hope you find it useful!




Recent Page Conference and Report Cites Perceptions of CEOs and CCOs on Reputation, Social Media, Marketing, Communications

The recently concluded Conference of the Arthur W. Page Society, which included the release of a new Page study – “The CEO View…Impact of Communications on Corporate Character” – reveals how corporate leaders today are viewing reputation, strategy social media, and communications. The study, based on interviews with CEOs and Chief Communications Officers (CCOs) representing a cross-section of global organizations, follows up on a similar survey conducted six years ago.

The Society’s bi-annual meeting was held earlier this week where the study was presented and discussed in detail. The presentation, along with several outside speakers and side conversations during lunch and dinner breaks, zeroed in on several key trends and insights around communications and its increasingly critical role in the corporate world. Following are five that were particularly noteworthy:

Succeeding in a Social World

Corporate leadership was slow to get on board the social media bandwagon, but now recognizes the clear advantage they bring to the business and their role as major components of business strategies. What is apparent to leaders now is that social media are important because of immediacy – i.e., immediacy that enhances the ability to anticipate and respond quickly to unfolding crises, as well as sense and respond to our target audiences’ changing temperaments and attitudes.

This latter point was summed up as challenge to CCOs in that they need to be make sure organizations are prepared far in advance for any potential issue or crisis so the business can respond in a timely manner.

It was noted that 24 years ago it took information about 24 hours to flow through media to consumers; 10 years ago that had dropped to 10 hours; and today 4 minutes!

Social media are immune to time and distance. Leveraging and maximizing conversations to gain advantage is now a CEO priority. Further, CEOs are becoming more comfortable with leading and communicating in a social manner thus experiencing how communities and audiences are interacting with the company, product and brand(s).

Message segmentation is dead

Given the above, CEOs recognize all stakeholders receive information simultaneously and often wear several hats so to speak. Employees can be customers and stockholders, too, while also producing and supporting the goods and services that feed the company’s revenues and bolster its profits. Message consistency across platforms and audiences is imperative and non-negotiable, and messages cannot conflict with one another from one space to another because eventually, all stakeholders see everything and can readily identify and see through any contradictions. In today’s ultra-connected world and media’s 24/7 ubiquity, that fact has never been truer.

The game as CEOs and CCOs see it today is around a corporate Narrative.  A Narrative that allows for each segment to understand and assimilate meaning based on their perspectives. A Narrative that is informed by insights and information gleaned from multiple external and internal sources.

Data = Insights that improve knowledge, strengthen engagement, accelerate innovation

Big Data is now a full-fledged occupant of the C-Suite.

In a number of different ways, senior corporate leaders today expect hard data from a number of internal and external sources to enhance their understanding of the business and help guide their decision-making.

However, it’s not just the data alone that they crave. Rather, it is the insights that the data unmask that bring out data’s true value. Distilling insights from hard data requires deep knowledge of the business, its challenges and opportunities, and the environment in which it operates.

Insights drawn from data can improve the working knowledge of the business for leadership, managers, and employees alike. Insights develop stronger engagement, and foster innovation throughout the enterprise by connecting our work to how the business needs to evolve in order to thrive in a changing world, in anticipation of tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities.

Do We Need to Tell Our Story Better?  or Do We Need a Better Story to Tell?

With the benefit of analytics and data, CEOs in this study expressed the opportunity to rethink and refresh how their organizations are conducting business in a globally complex, challenging environment.   The challenge for CCOs is moving from messaging to influencing policy, decision-making, and engagement.  In effect, to improve the organization’s position both competitively and reputationally.  To do so, a greater amount of time must be spent on comprehending the business and the impact social commerce and technology is having on it and focusing content to be more provocative (as opposed to declarative), more actionable (versus just thoughtful) and more engaging (as opposed to consuming).

Adopting New Language – Purpose

Finally, it was acknowledged that organizations need to view themselves through the lens of purpose not mission or product…for it is purpose that drives emotion and engagement.

Nestle     Food and Beverage           Nutrition

Nike        Footwear                             Health and Fitness


The Arthur W. Page Society is a membership organization for senior public relations and corporate communications executives.

Corporate brands today find themselves in a precarious position. In a distracted world, maintaining your voice and purpose provides a beacon to find you.

That very beacon, though, may bring with it unnecessary and unwanted scrutiny.

Either way, the most effective approach to distinguishing your corporate brand remains inside with your own workforce.

This issue of CommonSense…for the C-Suite explores this topic in detail.

We hope you find it useful and relevant!



Shhh.  Listen.  It’s the sound of your company or product or brand (or future) being overtaken.

It may be by a new technology.  A shift in consumer tastes. A societal change. An internal snafu. A different competitor. A trending topic.

Recognizing and preventing marginalization is arguably one of the most challenging realities of business today.

This issue of CommonSense…for the C-Suite is meant to shine a light on this important aspect of a leader’s responsibility.

Hope you find it useful.


It’s no surprise that achieving and sustaining an engaged workforce is beneficial for your business. That conversation has be had time and time again, and is supported with solid data. But, how do you really achieve engagement? What must fundamentally be in place in your organization in order to be successful? This conversation is less prevalent and arguably more interesting.

Our recent issue of Common Sense for the C-Suite explores this topic and sites three pre-requisites for employee engagement to come to fruition and before any engagement tactic, tool or technique can make a difference. Let us know what you think. What’s needed to engage your workforce?

For CEOs and CCOs alike, real time comprehension of an organization’s position in its evolution is arguably the most important skill to direct the future.

Why? Knowing this allows for the one competency every organization needs to master – innovating the business model.

In this issue of CommonSense For The C-Suite we posit the underpinnings necessary to align business, communications and operational strategies at various points in a company’s trajectory.

We hope you find it relevant and useful.




According to numerous business statistics, almost all management teams spend a day to a week every year away from their regular responsibilities to plan for the future while hundreds of millions of dollars are spent annually by business on internal conferences, meetings, and seminars for managers and leaders.

From a communicators perspective, we are often brought in to plan and/or support these meetings.  The question is “how much value do these internal meetings provide?”

The latest issue of CommonSense for the C-Suite offers specific advice on increasing the ROI for Company Leadership Confabs.

We hope you find it relevant and useful.


With information being ubiquitous to most everyone, why is it that leaders and employees are struggling with basic comprehension of organizational goals, strategies, priorities, and expectations?

Could it be that the tools of communications have replaced the content, context, and interaction necessary for real learning and assimilation?

This issue of CommonSense for the C-Suite delves into the subject of organizational effectiveness.

We hope you find it relevant and useful.



Gary F. Grates

p.s. You can download a PDF of this month’s newsletter by right-mouse clicking here.

With Trust at the heart of any successful relationship — be it personal or business — it’s no wonder that leaders and organizations have made it a priority.

Yet, organizational Trust remains elusive for even the most noteworthy companies.

So, should Trust be a corporate goal?

We explore this topic in the latest issue of CommonSense for the C-Suite.

Hope you find it useful and relevant.



Gary F. Grates

p.s. You can download a PDF of this month’s newsletter by right-mouse clicking here.