The power of one: Integrated corporate communications comes of age.

Kim Kraemer
May 07, 2024

Looking ahead to next week’s West Coast Fierce Pharma PR & Communications Summit, I’m blown away by how one of the greatest life sciences industry professions of all time—corporate communications—has evolved into a well-respected leadership role stewarding company reputation.  

It’s been an incredible journey. As a collective of in-house and agency colleagues, we’ve come a long way in the 40 years since Genentech launched the first biopharmaceutical product. Together, we’ve continued to optimize the corporate communications function and firmly establish the vital role we play in driving business success.  

The genesis of corporate communications may be public relations, but the breadth of what we do and accomplish never ceases to amaze me. Today’s corporate communicators must keep the needs of all stakeholders front and center—working in the trenches as C-suite advisors, serving on the front lines with industry, investors and clinical audiences and galvanizing organizational success through employee communications and culture building. It’s a big job, requiring a mix of skills and technical acumen. Shockingly, we’ve often performed the role as an N of 1 or small team with limited resources.

As the charter of the corporate communicator has broadened and key audiences have become more complex, organizations have experimented with various communications models. In perhaps one of the common models today, IR, PR and employee communications are bifurcated into specialist functions reporting into the CFO, CEO and HR, respectively, with advocacy sitting under commercial. This strategy can create communications silos and message inconsistency.

I am encouraged by the companies who have created integrated departments to orchestrate all-audience communications initiatives under a Corporate Affairs umbrella. And most recently, we’ve seen the emergence of hybrid communications and HR roles as CEOs recognize the importance of employer brand as a driver of company reputation.
Kim Kraemer
CEO & Chief Brand Strategist

So where do we go from here?

Having worked in corporate communications roles across the spectrum of company life cycles I’ve seen firsthand the benefits of unifying IR, PR, employee comms, advocacy and government affairs into an integrated function. Assigning accountability for driving results to a single leader drives consistency of brand voice across channels, ensuring new tools like AI are used appropriately and effectively. Overall, it allows us to think more holistically about the opportunities to build brand reputation and the impact doing so makes on a company’s perceived and actual value.  

We finally have actionable corporate and employer brand data to help make our case. Monitoring market cap, employee and social channel engagement, cost of recruiting and other quantifiable metrics reinforces what we’ve always intuitively known: no matter what the department title, communications leaders have earned a seat at the C-suite table reporting into the CEO.

I am grateful to organizations like Fierce Pharma for convening practitioners and creating a collegial space for us to share knowledge and learn from our respective experiences. The more we come together the faster we can move from an N of 1 to the Power of One with a shared remit—building and managing company reputation from the inside out.