By Alex Parkinson, Senior Researcher and Associate Director, The Conference Board
The Conference Board has been brimming with excitement since we entered 2016. Not only is it the year of our centenary—The Conference Board was founded in 1916 as the National Industrial Conference Board—but we’re also welcoming a groundbreaking organization to the fold: the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR). I’m really honored to be serving as Associate Director of the merged organization and I’m looking forward to working with the many experienced thought leaders SNCR has assembled through its fellowship program.
I have spent most of my career focusing on issues of corporate social responsibility (CSR), sustainability and corporate philanthropy, and I will continue to contribute to these areas at The Conference Board. Having worked—in my current role and in my previous position as a CSR communications and strategy consultant at Context Group—with some of the world’s largest companies, I’ve noticed the increasingly close relationship that has emerged between communications, branding and marketing, and CSR.
It’s important to note the impact technology has had on the world, and in particular on how companies connect with their customers. New business models are now made possible because of social media and social networking. SNCR’s founder, Jen McClure, who will continue with the merged organization as Chair of the SNCR Advisory Board, has been quick to note that some of the largest new companies—AirBnB and Uber to name just two—exist and thrive solely because of social networking. That’s an astute observation that identifies an important transition in the communications and marketing industry: the role is no longer a support function, but one that is defining how a lot of the corporate world does business.
At the same time, customers have become more sensitive to social and environmental issues, resulting in companies having to underpin their operations with purpose and values-based strategies. As disseminators of corporate messages, communicators, marketers and brand experts need to be completely in tune with these dynamics.
Finally, technology has changed the definition of community. People connect across borders and cultures with mind-blowing ease these days. Understanding the impact of this on companies’ CSR efforts is another piece of a fascinating puzzle.
As you can see, we’re in a complex but incredibly interesting time for business. To be involved in an organization that will study these groundbreaking shifts—and which will deliver key insights to powerful decision makers—is incredibly exciting. Welcome, SNCR and all its friends and family.