Cayhill Partners – incisive executive search

The communications executive search specialists. Finding exceptional professionals who are as distinctive as the companies they serve.

incisive executive search

Our Company

Cayhill Partners is a specialist communications business offering executive search, capability benchmarking and coaching services. In short, we help organisations find, recruit, develop, benchmark and retain their senior corporate affairs & PR teams.

Run by a former FTSE100 communications director, we combine a deep, first-hand understanding of the senior communications world with a flexible approach to executive search and head-hunting. We have spent years completely immersed in the world of communications and corporate affairs. It’s what we focus on 100% of the time.  That means that we approach every project with an in-built knowledge bank and an established and extensive network within the world of external and internal communications. And because we work across all industries, we are able to provide our clients with a diverse and thought-provoking choice of candidates along with insightful sector intelligence.

We offer three key services:

  • executive search. Providing our clients with the in-depth knowledge, insight and advice they need to identify and recruit their corporate affairs leaders and senior communications teams;
  • communications capability reviews. Allowing clients to ‘future-proof’ their current communications and corporate affairs offering, including benchmarking against other organisations;
  • career coaching & leadership development. Working with communications and other business leaders to enhance performance and improve business results, this service is tailored and bespoke.

Cayhill Partners works across the following corporate reputation disciplines: corporate affairs, corporate communications, media relations, public affairs, government relations, financial PR, investor relations, external affairs, public relations, internal communications and corporate responsibility.

We are meeting communications leaders and their teams every day. Here’s what they’re saying…

Many internal communications teams seem to focus on making lots of noise

Many internal communications teams seem to focus entirely on making lots of 'corporate noise', via CEO videos, town hall meetings, flashy newsletters, management blogs and the like, but worryingly they don't seem to measure the effectiveness of those communications on the organisation or its people.

There’s been much debate about Exec Comm

There has been much debate over the years about whether corporate affairs directors should sit on the executive committee. In my view if you don't sit on the Executive Committee, even if you have direct access to the CEO, you're a courtier.  Those that do sit on the executive committee, are - and importantly are seen to be - decision makers.

Echo chamber for the CEO

Some communications leaders believe that their role is to act as an echo-chamber for the CEO.  But they can't do their job properly if they only have the boss in their line of sight.  They need to take on board the views and opinions of others around the organisation to ensure they have an objective perspective on the business.

Chessboard management

"I think the era of FTSE chessboard management, when serial non-executives moved from one board to another, is ending.  There's an albeit glacial move towards hiring a more diverse range of NEDs who bring much more diversity of thinking to the board".

FTSE Chairman

Communications part of organisational success

"Communications as a discipline has become a key part of organisational success. It's never been so important to communicate clearly and effectively to stakeholders and corporate affairs directors who deliver this super advocacy role are hugely effective in helping drive shareholder value".

Corporate affairs not regarded as strategic

"Too often the corporate affairs function is not regarded as a strategic imperative, despite the increasing importance of reputation, trust and advocacy in business success. There's a perception that communications specialists  are seen as just that, specialists. The result is a tendency to keep talented people in that area rather than developing them into broader management positions".

News delivery dinosaurs

Those communications directors who are 'news delivery dinosaurs' will die out and the communications leaders who rise to the top will be the ones that understand data, insight and stakeholder engagement and are able to link them to the business strategy as well as the bottom line.

A high quality CAD is critical to a business

A high quality corporate affairs director is critical to a business and should be part of the Executive Committee and seen as on a par with other members. They should be a fully integrated member of the management team and assist with both the planning and the messaging of the organisation.

FTSE Chairman

One false move..looking at huge reputational risks

One false move, whether that be an ill thought-through comment, an incorrectly interpreted announcement, an off-the cuff remark or falling foul of some obscure legislation, means that we can now be looking at huge reputational risks.  Heading up communications for today's organisations is not a role for the faint-hearted.

It’s increasingly tough out there

It’s increasingly tough out there and my role is now as much about managing my CEO’s reputation as it is the company’s reputation.  CEOs are interested in whether they're being looked after. They want good judgement, wisdom and advice they can rely on.

The concept of a dedicated Press Office is waning

The concept of a dedicated Press Office is waning; it’s now about a more multi-faceted, less siloed approach. I'm increasingly hiring flexible, cross-discipline communicators who are as adept at running a change management programme as they are briefing a government official or overseeing a brand launch. They're harder to find, but worth the search.

I’m increasingly employing ex-government communicators

I’m increasingly employing ex-government communicators; they are fast and know how to employ guerrilla tactics. It's true that some don't have commercial experience, but over the past few years a number of the good ones have transitioned from government to PR agencies and are now ripe for a move in-house.

I’m looking at my agency invoices with increased scepticism

Whilst there is a place for big public affairs and public relations agency retainers, I’m looking at my agency invoices with increased scepticism.  My requirements have changed over the years but many agencies have been slow to update their services to reflect my changing needs. I want a more integrated resource, more creative content and better campaigning expertise.

To hold their own around the executive table…

To hold their own around the executive table, communications directors need a good commercial understanding of how businesses operate.  I don't think it's enough any more to just contribute to debates about reputational issues, we need to start contributing - and contributing knowledgeably - to discussions about the actual running of the business.