Deloitte CFO Insights: Creating an Effective Communications Program

When taking on a new role, it is important as CFO to quickly establish or elevate your communications program. After all, you may be inheriting hundreds or even thousands of staffers across the globe to whom you may need to communicate a renewed mission, strategy, or brand objectives.

Furthermore, there may be numerous other stakeholders outside of your company with whom you have to communicate (for example, investors, bankers, customers, and so on). A transition is a good time to step back and create a proactive communications program to help you achieve your objectives. First impressions matter.

The first step in creating a communications strategy for a specific priority is to define the audiences you want to communicate to and influence

While many finance chiefs in our CFO Transition Lab™ recognize the importance of communications, few have access to sufficient communications support. And when communications support is available, it lacks a systematic approach and varies in quality.

Given the complexity of modern multinational organizations, the number of stakeholders a CFO should connect with, and the competition for attention, it is essential to execute a disciplined communications program to get critical messages to specific stakeholders without being drowned out by the noise or lost in translation.

In this article, we will introduce a simple model to help finance chiefs create and execute a disciplined communications program that aligns to their core objectives.

The communications cascade

This communications cascade requires incoming CFOs to establish clarity around nine key elements:

  • priorities
  • audiences
  • audience-specific objectives
  • messages
  • packaging
  • channels
  • delivery
  • frequency
  • feedback

The communications cascade: Preparing and delivering your messages

Specifically, the steps include:

Align communications to your priorities. A good starting point of your communications strategy should be your core go-forward priorities. Once you have clarity on those, it makes sense to create a communications strategy specific to each priority that then becomes part of an overall communications program.

Define critical audiences. For each priority, define your critical audiences. Who do you need to communicate to? Who do you need to hear from?

As an incoming CFO, for example, you can have many different audiences, including your direct reports, your entire finance organization, the executive committee— the whole company. The first step in creating a communications strategy for a specific priority is to define the audiences you want to communicate to and influence. 

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