The Business Impact of Communication: Circle of Fellows #54

Communication—both internal and external—is a cost center. Other cost centers, like human resources, have transformed themselves from bureaucratic necessary expenses to vital business partners whose work directly affects business performance. Communication can (and does) have a direct effect on business when managed and measured strategically, but far too many communication functions still focus on message outputs than on improving productivity or other business elements that matter to the company’s leadership.

In episode 54 of Circle of Fellows, four IABC Fellows discussed how communicators can make this transition from a cost center to vital business partner. Shel Holtz moderated the panel that included Priya Bates, Neil Griffiths, Ned Lundquist, and Jim Shaffer.

About the Panel

Priya Bates is a senior communication executive who provides strategic internal communication counsel in order to ensure leaders, managers, and employees understand the strategy, believe in the vision, act in accordance with the values, and contribute to business results. She is president of Inner Strength Communications in Toronto and previously served as senior director of Internal Communications at Loblaw Companies Limited.


Neil Griffiths, ABC, Chart.PR, IABC Fellow, is Senior Manager, Global Communication & Global Inclusion Lead at ERM, the world’s largest sustainability consultancy. Neil has worked in communication management for 15+ years in public, private and non-profit organizations. Neil is a serial volunteer and has held a number of leadership positions on global committees within IABC, including the inaugural Global Communications Certification Council. Neil was Chair of the 2018 IABC World Conference to be held in Montreal in June 2018. He has been recognized with awards for his leadership within the profession, being made IABC Fellow in June 2019. Together with co-author Deborah Hinton, Neil has published two studies on the current and future state of the communication profession and has spoken on the topic at several conferences. Neil holds the Freedom of London and is a member of the Company of Public Relations Practitioners.


Edward “Ned” Lundquist, a retired U.S. Navy captain with 33 years of professional public affairs and strategic communications experience. He is a principal science writer at MCR Federal in McLean, Virginia, supporting government clients; and has his own company, Echo Bridge LLC, which provides outreach and advocacy support to commercial clients. He served on active duty for 24 years in the U.S. Navy as a surface warfare officer and public affairs specialist. Captain Lundquist was a Pentagon spokesman with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, Director of the Fleet Home Town News Center, and director of public affairs and corporate communications for the Navy Exchange Service Command. His last tour of duty was commanding the 450 men and women of the Naval Media Center. He is an accredited business communicator and award-winning communicator who served as president of IABC/Hampton Roads and IABC/Washington, director of U.S. district 3 and chair of the International Accreditation Council. He was named an IABC Fellow in 2016. Captain Lundquist is a member of the executive committee of the Surface Navy Association and chair of the SNA communications committee. He writes for numerous naval, maritime and defense publications and chairs and presents at communications, naval and maritime security conferences around the world.


Jim Shaffer is a business adviser, leadership coach, author, and speaker. As leader of the Jim Shaffer Group, he helps organizations accelerate results through superior strategy execution. The Jim Shaffer Group creates hard business results by translating the business strategy to the people who need to implement it, aligning systems, processes, and culture to make the gains sustainable. The firm has improved quality, service, sales, safety, turnover, productivity, speed and costs with some returns exceeding more than 1,600 percent. He designed and produced the IABC Academy courses, “Managing Communication to Drive Results and Value” and “How to Add Value as a Strategic Adviser”. Some of his clients have included: Hallmark, ConAgra Foods, FedEx, IBM, Marriott, Mayo Clinic, Verizon, Owens Corning, Pfizer, and Toyota.

Shel Holtz

Shel Holtz, IABC Fellow, is director of internal communications at Webcor, a commercial general contractor headquartered in San Francisco. Before joining Webcor, Shel spent 21 years as principal of Holtz Communication + Technology. In addition to integrating technology into communications strategies, his expertise includes strategic communications planning, change management, organizational culture, business initiatives and communication research.


  1. You spoke about getting feedback and completing the circle. I was just at a recent IABC event where a VP indicated that they regularly completed that loop in their old role, however in their new role they were at a fast-paced moving tech company and the messaging and products were changing so fast that they were having a hard time completing that feedback loop before the information was redundant.
    It was negatively affecting the communications team because they did do better with feedback on their performance.

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