Last year brought an end to the "benign economic environment" that "created so much opportunity, so much investment and an easy environment to succeed in," FTI senior managing director Dan Hunter tells Doug Simon.

Hunter, who is also head of financial services for the Americas in FTI's strategic communications practice, says that in 2023, "we're going to see stakeholders realign in this new economic environment."

To provide valuable counsel for the CEOs they work with, Hunter says that communicators need to "help them declutter the perception of what they think is around them and focus them on the key risks they need to avoid, challenges they cannot avoid, and what they need to do now."

He also tells Simon that the changed environment will make communicators an even more vital partner, since CEOs "don't know how to navigate this new normal." One big problem: navigating "all of their stakeholder groups who have often mutually exclusive aims."

A major tool in accomplishing that task is data, but Hunter says that data is not the whole story. "Tech helps, but great comms people have always known what stakeholders think beacuse they are talking to them all the time."

It's also essential that a compny's leadership recognizes how important comms are. "If the C-suite does not view the head of comms or the comms advisor as integral to the company strategy, it's very hard to overcome that. "

The growing importance of thought leaership is discussed, but using it successfully can be a challenge. "Thought leadership is sharing a thought that changed other people's thinking. I think in 2023, that's the hardest thing to get right."

He adds that a CEO's thought leadership also has to negotiate the overall corporate environment. "If a CEO wants to lean forward and extend their own individual view and that clashes with the views of the board or the investors, they will ultimately come unstuck in that situation."

While Hunter tells Simon that another future-facing trend—the metaverse—has "some way to go" before it's a thoroughly effective interaction he "would expect to see far more corporate events and communication events happening within the metaverse."

Overall, he remains bullish for the coming year. "I think America has navigated these challenges pretty well economically, and this country's going to get through the challenges this year as well. C-suites are getting the right advice—communications professionals are here to help provide that advice and make those wise decisions."

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