Salt and Shein names 50 most influential corporate affairs leaders

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 12.02.33 pmCorporate affairs recruitment firm Salt and Shein has named its annual list of the 50 most influential corporate affairs practitioners, with spinners from the ABC, Seven and Ten all making the list for a second year in a row.

The 2015 list also includes the likes of high profile Qantas executive Olivia Wirth, Westfield’s Mark Ryan and Optus’s David Epstein and, also found that increasingly corporate affairs was reporting to the CEO rather than to marketing.

“More and more heads of corporate affairs are reporting to CEOs,” said Josh Shein, director of Salt and Shein. “These days it is considered equal to if not more senior than the head of marketing by most listed companies.”

Shein argued that there was now a clear shift and that corporate affairs directors reporting into the marketing was a rarity, with specific and different functions for the two roles.

“You can now describe corporate affairs as marketing’s counter part,” he said.  “When I started there were more PR directors reporting into marketing directors and now that’s increasingly rare.”

“There has been a recognition that marketing is about helping sales but corporate affairs is about managing reputation.”

Shein said the Power 50 was put together independently and drawn from a variety of sources.

“They have been identified independently by GSG Counsel who we engaged to compile the report and they have done that by speaking with a range of executives and journalists,” he said.

Among the main media spinners are the ABC’s Michael Millett, Seven West’s Simon Francis and Ten’s Neil Shoebridge.

Asked about their biggest challenges, Millett notes this year’s fight with the Federal Government over funding, writing: “Managing relations with the federal government, our key stakeholder, is always challenging because they pay the bills. Governments come in different shapes and sizes, with different competing priorities, so you have to make a strong case for more funding.”

Miller’s counterparts at Seven and Ten however, focused on the challenges facing the TV sector.

“Free to air television is a very powerful mass market medium, every home has a TV set, sometimes two or three,” wrote Francis.

“Fragmentation of the audience is a reality – the days when the whole family sits down together to watch a programme are few and far between. So the challenge is to ensure the strength of the free-to-air platform by delivering mass audiences to our advertisers with content you can only see on Seven, such as My Kitchen Rules, X-Factor and Home and Away. Consistent delivery of the right content across all of platforms is the key challenge.”

Shoebridge also noted: “For a content company like Ten, the ongoing challenge is the fragmentation of people’s media consumption habits. While the amount of time people spend consuming media and entertainment products has increased, the competition for eyeballs has also grown.

“TV networks still have the best video content, but people are consuming it in different ways, via smartphones, tablets, smart TV sets, game consoles and so on. This will continue, creating all sorts of challenges and opportunities.”

While the like of Millett and Shoebridge are former journalists, Shein noted that the propensity of journalists to move across to senior corporate affairs roles was becoming less.

“There are less and less corporate affairs executives with journalistic backgrounds,” said Shein. “They really separated out into separate career streams and we have found in the last decade it is harder and harder for senior journalists and editors to move across into senior corporate affairs roles.”

“It used to be that journalism was the only pool that corporate affairs could draw on whereas today graduates are starting out in corporate relations roles.”

The full Salt and Shein list can be viewed here.

Nic Christensen CommsCon_2015



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