Communicators report greater access to the C-suite

Comms pros have also gained a seat at the table in strategic decision making, and that the major obstacle to effective leadership communications is no longer access, according to the 2021 Communications Benchmark Report.

By Tony Silber      

What a difference a year makes. Traditionally, communicators have struggled with ready access to the C-suite and in obtaining a seat at the table for strategic decision making. Communicators also dislike last-minute requests as a standard operating method, and they don’t like to be perceived by executive management as order takers.

Here’s the good news: That dynamic changed dramatically since the beginning of 2020. Last year, a majority of communicators—33%—said the biggest obstacle to effective leadership communication was access to executives. This year, that number declined to 27%, according to the Communications Leadership Council’s 2021 Benchmark Report.

That might be one of the most significant findings in the 2021 Communications Benchmark Report. Couple that with the finding that 26% of more than 700 respondents saying they gained a seat at the table in strategic decision making, and nearly 21% saying the pandemic led to better access to the C-suite, and there’s certainly a silver lining to a truly difficult 2020.

[EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Communications Benchmark Report 2021]

Now, according to the report, the biggest obstacle to effective leadership communications is not access, it’s that executives are hesitant to use social media. But even that suggests an opportunity. If executives fear a PR disaster on social media, then communicators should address that—they should train their executive teams. They should put systems in place for vetting posts before they go live. They should create lists of do’s and don’ts, and have a fail-safe plan in place.

These compelling findings are just a small fraction of the key findings from the third annual Communications Benchmark Report, an exclusive study from Ragan’s Communications Leadership Council, that reveals a range of sentiments and best-laid plans during a very dynamic time.

Download a copy of Ragan’s third annual Communications Benchmark Report executive summary here. To obtain a full copy of Ragan’s 2021 Communications Benchmark Report become a member of the Communications Leadership Council. Click here for more details.