Peter Lucht, head of corporate communications at Citizens Financial Group, tells Doug Simon that while "the verdict is still out about whether there's going to be a downturn or not," his company will keep its focus on a proactive communications strategy, no matter what the economic landscape for 2023 has in store.

"The type of communications program we look to execute is very tightly mapped to the corporate strategy and our default mode is to be very strategic and very proactive in any case," Lucht says. "So we're going to look to move in lockstep with the company. And as the company stays on offense and perhaps looks to make some defensive moves that are prudent, the communications program is going to reflect that."

Lucht tells Simon that the "disciplined offense" that marks the communications style at Citizens "starts with the right plan, with an understanding of that plan and then just really bearing down on it with rigor to ensure that we are executing in a way that directly advances narratives that help move the Citizens reputation forward. And I tell the team, if you find yourself doing something that is not matched to the corporate or business line strategies, then you need to ask yourself why you're doing it."

Citizens CEO Bruce van Saun plays a major role in the company's communications. "He's very game to engage as long as he believes that it makes strategic sense to do so," Lucht says. "I have worked with him closely over a number of years so I have been able to develop, I think, a sense for his receptivity to a particular kind of opportunity and also his voice. I'm able to help advise him on how we want to position things. It's just a good kind of high level communications counsel to help us collectively stay on course in terms of advancing these narratives."

When it comes to what it will take to succeed in the coming year, he says that "the real opportunity is around realizing the vision of bringing all of the various communications disciplines together into a consolidated team. So our focus in 2023 is going to be on formulating and executing truly integrated plans that are mapped to some of the most important reputation drivers for the corporation."

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