IBM chief communications officer Jonathan Adashek talks with Doug Simon about the management style he has employed to pilot the company’s messaging through a year of both internal changes (a new CEO) and external forces (the COVID pandemic) in the latest “PR’s Top Pros Talk” video interview.

Being open and transparent with the comms team, he says, is more important than ever. He also notes that connecting with team members on a personal level is essential in the socially distanced, work-from-home environment that most businesses are negotiating.

For a global company like IBM, he notes, balancing overall policies with local differences is another key concern. While Adashek says that “there are going to be a set of principles that are IBM principles,” he stresses the importance of “adjusting accordingly to meet the local cultural norms and what’s going to work from a communications perspective.”

Simon asks Adashek about how CCOs can forge collaborative relationships with CEOs. He says that company leaders are “not looking for people who are just going to say yes.” Instead they want “people who add value and help them think about the decisions that need to be made.”

As regards the coming year, communicators will need to be even more nimble and flexible than they’ve been in 2020. “Unfortunately, I see continued cycles in this pandemic that are going to take people into and out of offices,” he says. “There’s so many different combinations.”

That unpredictability will likely be 2021’s signature trend, Adashek tells Simon. “The one thing I feel pretty confident about is we’re going to face even more continuous change, and the pace of that change is going to be greater than it’s been in the past.”

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D S Simon Media helps clients get their stories on television through satellite media tours and by producing and distributing content to the media. The company also produces live social media events.