Why Business Leaders Should Consider Geopolitics in Their 2022 Media Strategy

Geopolitics isn’t just for the Government Relations team

Michelle Giuda
Media Genius
Published in
3 min readFeb 7, 2022

Executives are becoming highly attuned to the rapidly changing geopolitical realm — and risks — associated with today’s global media environment. And for a good reason. According to our research on the state of the geopolitical business landscape among multinational executives:

Disinformation ranks among the top 10 geopolitical risks facing multinationals.

Nearly half (49%) of global executives are “very” concerned regarding disinformation about their company, rating higher than other geopolitical risks such as political instability, trade disruption/embargoes and conflict or war.

Four in 10 global executives are “very” concerned about attacks on press freedom.

More than one third (35%) are equally concerned about censorship as a geopolitical risk.

The disinformation challenges facing global companies are only going to grow. We can expect bots, algorithms and other forms of content automation to accelerate the ability of governments and political actors to spread disinformation, computational propaganda (think propaganda at 5G speed) and flood the information space at a scale and velocity not yet experienced. All of which make corporate communicators’ fears of a “viral tweet” pale in comparison.

The fluctuating tides of globalization, quick-rising claims of national security and the speed in which truthful and false information spread across worldwide media is challenging the best of our corporate business-decision makers. That is obvious when you look at recent snafus (see here) and the increase of government warnings to the public about disinformation and propaganda trends to watch for.

So, as business leaders, what do you do?

To deal with these challenges, start with recognizing four fundamentals that should inform how you shape a modern communications operation and strategy:

1. Geopolitics isn’t just for the Government Relations team. All enterprise leaders are required to be steeped in knowledge of international affairs. Communications leaders, with their finger on the pulse of the media and a full portfolio of stakeholders — including employees and consumers who are now pressuring companies to take a stance on issues of international importance — are well-placed to guide their organizations to understand, anticipate, plan and protect against geopolitical issues and maintain credibility.

2. Data is imperative. As Assistant Secretary of State for Global Public Affairs, I led the largest restructuring at the State Department in 20 years to modernize its global communications operation. That included major increases in the State Department’s data, research & analytics investment and capabilities. Implementing a proactive data analytics strategy to identify critical signals in the media landscape, anticipate risk and opportunity, inform strategy and measure impact is essential.

3. Media intelligence must be global. Business leaders are now required to understand how content is created, shared and consumed in every market where they operate. This includes the recognition that truth in several closed or censored societies has not existed in modern times. Thus, the ability to counter inaccurate narratives about an event, a brand or a company in these environments is severely limited and presents new and different challenges than combatting disinformation in open societies where free speech and a free press are codified in the rule of law. Experts like our Blackbird partners who use AI and human analysis to understand and mitigate the impact of disinformation in its many forms are key in these circumstances.

4. Prepare to go public. Eighty-seven percent (87%) of global executives believe their company should be prepared to take a more public position on geopolitical issues in the next five years. This often happens because they have to — not because they want to. Leaders should gather examples of missteps other companies have made weighing in on geopolitical issues and test out how they might respond in the media to issues that played out publicly and to employees who push for action. Practice may not make perfect, but preparation is always better than being forced to take a position before you’re ready.

All of the above must come with the understanding that in diplomacy there is no frictionless path. Crises will happen and shocks will come. The imperative for business leaders is to prepare now as media security issues continue to rise in 2022. The resulting choices and consequences by corporate leaders will define what it means to be a global business in the 21st century geopolitical arena.



Michelle Giuda
Media Genius

EVP of Geopolitical Strategy & Risk @WeberShandwick. Former Assistant Secretary of State for Global Public Affairs.