Comms departments must focus on external events

NEW YORK: As corporate communications professionals are more frequently invited to the C-suite table, PR departments should keep a sharp eye on current events, said Paul Gottsegen, CMO of Infosys.

NEW YORK: As corporate communications professionals are more frequently invited to the C-suite table, PR departments should keep a sharp eye on current events, said Paul Gottsegen, CMO of Infosys.

"I actually read the news section before the business section, and it used to be the other way around," he said. "We have employees and clients all over the world."

When Japan was hit with by a tsunami in March, Gottsegen said his company faced an increase in media requests because it has an office there.

"If a bomb was to go off in Mumbai, immediately we've got to have a realtime reaction," he added.

Gottsegen was joined by Kathy Beiser, VP of corporate communications at Discover Financial Services, and Noel Ryan, executive director and head of corporate and IR for Delek US, at a PRWeek NEXT Conference panel on Wednesday. The group discussed the quickly evolving role of communications serving the C-suite.

Discover Financial Services has seen its industry covered heavily on the front pages in recent years, remarked Beiser. The company is closely watching the Occupy Wall Street movement, she said.

"I think for a lot of us over the years, it has been particularly challenging," Beiser added. "I think we look at everything that's out there that might have a potential implication, because if something happens in one part of financial services, even if we are not in that space, it might have some other tangential impact on our customer."

Ryan said it is not always necessary to address all external issues. He said strategies for the company are driven by the relevancy of the news to the company's key audiences, including analysts, investors, employees, and financial media.

"I deal with what my constituents care about," he said. "Ultimately, it's got to be about issues that matter to our shareholders and are constituencies.

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