Weber Shandwick launches the Rising CCO

Global chief communications officers (CCOs) are increasingly adding digital and social media into their department oversight and responsibilities. CCOs report that compared to years past, they are hiring more digital and social media experts (73 per cent) and developing more relationships with influential Twitter users and bloggers (55 per cent). These findings come from The Rising CCO V, a survey conducted by global executive search firm Spencer Stuart and global public relations firm Weber Shandwick. Now in its fifth year, The Rising CCO explores how CCOs expect their responsibilities to evolve over time in an increasingly digitised and media-fragmented world.

Social media continues to be a top agenda item

Social media is expected to have the wide impact on the CCO’s job over the next few years. This finding is consistent across every region in the study, which includes North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America. Globally, CCOs expect mobile (73 per cent) and video production (69 per cent) to also increase the most in importance.

“Corporate communications is in a constant state of evolution as the growth of social communications continues to change the landscape,” said George Jamison, who leads Spencer Stuart’s Corporate Communications business. “In some cases, corporate teams are driving change, others are striving to keep up.  Our research shows that CCOs are working hard to equip themselves with the right tools and people to help them effectively navigate this world of change and stay socially-fluent.”

CCOs anticipate great change ahead

The vast majority of CCOs (86 per cent) agree that the changes in the media environment in the past few years have had a significant impact on communications strategies, and they expect the landscape to continue to evolve. More than one-quarter of global CCOs (28 per cent) expect the media environment to change extensively over the next few years. 

Fifty eight per cent of CCOs report that they create and publish their own content, 18 per cent report that they are in the process of preparing to become an original content publisher, and 14 per cent say they are considering becoming an original content publisher as a future initiative.

Marketing and communications grow closer

CCOs have greater responsibility for marketing today compared to several years ago. The rate of global CCOs who have oversight for marketing increased from 26 per cent in 2012 to 35 per cent in 2014, a 35 per cent increase.

“Greater marketing and communications convergence is likely driven by the increasing indivisibility of corporate and brand reputation that’s fast taking hold among leading global Fortune 500 companies,” said Leslie Gaines-Ross, Chief Reputation Strategist for Weber Shandwick. “In a splintered media environment, having one clear enterprise voice is now mission critical.”  Eighty four per cent of global CCOs agree that corporate reputation and brand reputation are indivisible today.

Nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) of CCOs agree that public relations has risen in status in the marketing mix over the past few years.

CCOs see effectiveness in media integration

Global chief communications officers (CCOs) report that their external communications focus more on traditional media (64 per cent) than social media (36 per cent). CCOs use traditional and social media for different purposes and see effectiveness in integrating both for some communications activities, including crisis resolution, and not for others. Nearly two-thirds of CCOs (63 per cent) find traditional and social media to be equally effective for resolving a crisis or issue.

At least half of global CCOs report that traditional and social media are equally effective for retaining customers (58 per cent), attracting new customers (54 per cent) and creating awareness of a new product or service (50 per cent). Traditional media is viewed as more effective for announcing financial performance (76 per cent) and promoting the visibility of senior executives (54 per cent), while social media is more effective for attracting talent (56 per cent).

Regional findings:

  • North American and Asia Pacific (APAC) CCOs are most likely to agree that the field of corporate communications has successfully kept pace with the changes in the media environment.
  • CCOs in all four regions represented in the study expect social media to increase the most in importance as a communications tool over the next few years. However, APAC CCOs are more likely than others to report that the company website will increase the most in importance. Latin American (LatAm) CCOs also expect digital community management and video production to increase in importance. 
  • European and LatAm CCOs are most likely to oversee marketing in addition to communications.
  • North American CCOs are the most likely to be currently creating and publishing their own content. APAC CCOs are most likely to be in the process of preparing to become original content publishers.

Click here to view the report and infographic.

Survey report says: The Rising CCO, now in its fifth year, examined the expectations, challenges and changing responsibilities of CCOs in the world’s largest companies. The 203 survey respondents came from companies based in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America. The survey was conducted online from January to March 2014.

Weber Shandwick is a global public relations firm with offices in 81 countries. The firm deploys expertise across sectors and specialty areas, including consumer marketing, corporate reputation, healthcare, technology, public affairs, financial services, corporate social responsibility, financial communications and crisis management, using proprietary social, digital and analytics methodologies. Weber Shandwick is part of the Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG).

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