Picture for in-house communications function is mixed Article icon

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Three out of four in-house communications professionals believe that their chief executive or managing director truly values the importance of the communications function within their organisation, a new report claims.

But the situation declines among the broader senior leadership, according to The View, a new survey of more than 400 communications professionals by recruitment specialists VMA, which reveals a mixed bag of fortunes for the in-house communications function.

Nine per cent of those surveyed claim senior leaders within their organisation do not understand the value of communications while a further 22 per cent claim that senior leaders recognise its contribution but are not key advocates. Just 35 per cent view their senior leadership team as strong advocates of the communications function.

However, 64 per cent of in-house communicators believe that they will have more influence within their organisation over the next 12 months. The percentage is broadly equivalent to the number of communications teams with a reporting line to a board member.

The survey also revealed that communications budgets continue to be squeezed. Just two per cent increased significantly last year while 49 per cent remained constant and 27 per cent were reduced. But one in five remain confident that budgets will improve over the next year while 48 per cent are not optimistic.

Against this backdrop of depressed budgets, eight in ten communicators anticipate that demand for their services will rise over the next 12 months while three in four view digital communications as the future. However, fewer than half – 47 per cent – regard their use of social or digital communications as good or excellent, including one per cent who describe themselves as ‘cutting edge’.

Despite recognising that their function will be increasingly called upon, almost one in three in-house teams have yet to put a formal communications strategy in place. As respondent Mark Cullen, director of brand, marketing and communications at EMIA Financial Services, EY, puts it: ‘A well thought out strategy is a must. Without it, you’re driving a car with a set of broken headlights in the dead of night. That could be a fatal combination.’