A couple of years ago, we posted the results of research that showed how the role of the Chief Communication Officer (CCO) has evolved during our era of digital disruption. While not many of us will work our way to the CCO level, we know that these rising expectations will ripple down to communicators at all levels.

That’s why a recent survey of more than 200 communication leaders conducted by Page, a global professional association for senior public relations and corporate communications executives and educators, is of such importance.

The survey results, titled The CCO as Pacesetter | What It Means, Why It Matters, How to Get There, identifies four areas of emphasis: brand stewardship, organizational culture, societal value creation, and digital capabilities. Take a look at the summaries of these four areas.

CCOs are increasingly responsible for corporate brand stewardship.

“This requires a multi-stakeholder perspective, an appreciation of the new drivers of reputation, an arm-in-arm linkage with the company’s culture initiatives and, in many cases, a fundamental rethinking of the meaning of the brand. CCOs are stepping up. And they are doing more than enforcing logo standards and communicating corporate “narratives” – they are creating systems and tools to ensure that the actual experiences stakeholders have with their companies are consistently on brand” (p. 6).

CCOs are heavily engaged in instilling a new kind of corporate culture

“Digital businesses move at the speed of innovation and insight, continually learn, make decisions based on data, and are truly customer-centric and agile. Modern businesses eschew hierarchy, thrive on diversity in every dimension and authentically contribute to society. CCOs are working to establish or scale such cultures. They are moving beyond traditional employee engagement practices, beyond storytelling and internal communications campaigns. They and their teams are collaborating with the Chief Human Resources Officer and across the C-Suite to provide the reinforcement, rituals, training, tools and systems to enable the new culture” (p.6).

CCOs are helping to define an enterprise commitment to societal value creation.

“Stakeholders increasingly expect businesses to create not only customer and shareholder value, but broader societal value, as well. CCOs are helping enterprises rethink their corporate purpose with a focus on societal value, and driving changes in business strategy and planning to make societal value creation an integral part of the fabric of the business” (p.7).

CCOs are investing in technology and talent to make their functions more agile, more digital, more data- and analytics-driven.

“Virtually every CCO has developed digital capabilities, but until recently this has been used to produce and disseminate digital content and to analyze traditional and social media. Now CCOs are adding to these publishing and listening capabilities. They are…digitally engaging target audiences and nurturing them along a designed journey toward some action. Progressive CCOs are establishing dedicated teams, formally training them on Agile methods, and equipping them with modern “tech stacks” that are increasingly automated” (p.7).

Are you seeing these areas of emphasis in your organization? And are you preparing yourself for these challenges, regardless of your communication role?

Posted by Carl Zangerl, Faculty