Evie Barrett
Jan 10, 2023

‘Greenwashing could be the sword of Damocles’—how corporate comms will become ‘complex comms’ in 2023

Corporate comms has always needed to adapt and allow for consideration of a wide range of factors—and that load has by no means lightened for 2023.

Clockwise, from top left: Charlotte Harvey, Tom Nutt, Victoria Brophy, James Melville-Ross, Sabrina Lynch
Clockwise, from top left: Charlotte Harvey, Tom Nutt, Victoria Brophy, James Melville-Ross, Sabrina Lynch

Need we mention the many nuanced issues that look to throw spanners in the works of our society in 2023? They already dominate the headlines, and have done for months. Such a variety of problems calls for a variety of solutions, which is why PRWeek's panel of corporate comms experts have suggested getting creative, providing a plethora of ways the sector can evolve over the next 12 months.

Using the range of resources at our fingertips—anything from emerging social platforms to solid legal expertise—will be crucial to making key decisions that reward stakeholders, employees and audiences alike, it seems.

Here’s what corporate comms experts predict for the coming year.

James Melville-Ross, partner, Dentons Global Advisors

“We’ll see the balance shift from the commonly recognised practice of strategic communications to a new type of corporate reputation management – complex communications. Today’s business leaders are navigating a long list of complicated issues: economic uncertainty, ESG, DE&I, climate change, conflict and supply chain issues are just a few of the dynamics posing a reputational challenge. This requires a holistic response, developing and delivering properly integrated strategies, with the right expertise around the table; and now, more than ever, the need for legal expertise as part of that combined counsel, to assess the risks, map the implications and help leaders get the key decisions right.”

Tom Nutt, managing partner, head of UK corporate and campaigns, Instinctif Partners

“I predict three themes for 2023. First, the opportunity for creative campaigning – with a likely more benign UK political environment there will be greater space for organisations to credibly show how they can positively impact the world. Second, the ESG backlash will subside, and a more pragmatic view will emerge that champions authenticity but also continues to place an onus on companies to deliver for a range of stakeholders. Finally, a look inwards as corporates seek to keep talent and rebalance toward protecting and growing rather than attracting the new – embedding corporate cultures that will likely define the next 10 years.” 

Victoria Brophy, executive director, EVP, risk and reputation, Golin

“With an ongoing recession, continued cost-of-living crisis, and more strike action, it’s not a cheery forecast for corporate PRs. It’s a bit of a headache of balancing tough news about changes to business operations and rocky earnings updates with more upbeat campaigns aimed at highlighting the broader value their organisation delivers. ESG credentials will be under greater scrutiny as they become more important than ever in helping ease minds of investors and court attention of valuable stakeholders, customers and consumers. With new EU rules on ESG accounting coming into force in June and the US following… greenwashing could be the 2023 sword of Damocles.” 

Charlotte Harvey, head of corporate, Grayling

“Consumers and businesses are both facing significant pressures as we enter the new year, and this will shape all corporate communications activity. At Grayling, our view is that the organisations who thrive in 2023 will be those who show how they are using their position to create value across society – how they are sharing the advantage they have created. This is something that will matter not just to external audiences but to employees as well. For corporate communications professionals, this means doubling down on championing great work already being done, but also pushing your business to find new ways to lead. This won’t be easy, but it will be rewarding.”

Sabrina Lynch, senior vice-president of brand strategy, M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment

“Corporate comms will be heavily targeted to audiences on social media channels vs traditional news outlets. New kids on the block such as Spill, Discord, Stereo and Signal have led to the rise of community town halls, curated by consumers, that take place 24/7. We need to acknowledge that consumers are journalists in a different font who have undeniable sway on public, stakeholder – and, more importantly, employee – perception of a business. While content certainly maximises the reach of messaging across multiple channels, it should not replace in-real-life discussions between business leaders and individuals who are at the centre of their own newsrooms in these evolved forums.”


Related Articles

Just Published

14 hours ago

Pepsi unveils a new logo: a look back at the logos ...

A bold leap forward, the design reflects changing consumer tastes and the brand's digital ambitions. Also, it comes just in time for Pepsi’s 125th anniversary.

15 hours ago

2022 new-biz review: Which creative agencies came ...

Campaign looks at the top ad agencies ranked by gross new-business billing in 2022.

15 hours ago

From accounting to advertising, FCB's accidental ...

CREATIVE MINDS: A fan of Greek mythology, tattoos, Ryan Gosling and Shah Rukh Khan, in no particular order, Moumita Das' secret to success includes thriving under pressure.

17 hours ago

The importance of delivering a personalised ...

Privacy can no longer be a business afterthought; it must be a strategy from inception, says Cybage executive.