Most Reputable Corporate Communications Officers

January 25, 2008

Most Reputable Corporate Communications Officers

ist2_2747767_communications_icon_set.jpgWe just released a report on Corporate Communications Officers AKA CCOs. The survey, The Rising CCO, which was conducted with partners’ Spencer Stuart and KRC Research examined the changing role of today’s CCO. Anyone who knows me is well aware that I firmly believe in the contributions made by corporate communications departments. Perhaps because I came into the public relations world late in my career and was basically clueless about what public relations/corporate communications people did, I now have the deepest respect for CCOs. Perhaps because I felt like an outsider for so long. They used to call me a “non-traditional” hire. 

This is all to say that I am particularly proud of this research. Our intent was to quantify the hunches most of us have about this evolving and rising position in the corporate hierarchy. To focus on one aspect of what we learned from Fortune 500 CCOs themselves, we uncovered a strong correlation between a company’s corporate communications organization and the company’s ranking on Fortune’s “World’s Most Admired Companies” list. Most admired company CCOs, compared to those in “contender” companies, stay in their jobs longer, have fewer internal rivals and are more likely to report straight to the top (the CEO). See below.

HOW CCOs IN MOST ADMIRED COMPANIES DIFFER FROM CCOs

IN CONTENDER COMPANIES

CCOs in Most Admired Companies Are MORE Likely than CCOs in Contender Companies to:

Most Admired CompaniesContender Companies
Have longer tenures4 years, 10 months3 years, 5 months
Have prior PR agency experience42%32%
Report to CEOs53%33%
Have no interdepartmental rivals 25%9%
Identify reputation management as top priority in 200834%21%
Report that future CCO success depends on global expertise52%41%
CCOs in Most Admired Companies Are LESS Likely than CCOs in Contender Companies to:  
Rate talent shortage as a significant challenge35%47%
Give themselves six months or less to prove their worth when a new CEO arrives73%85%

Other interesting reputation-related findings include:

  • The CCO focus is shifting from financial communications, media relations and internal communications to the broader strategic issues of environmental/social responsibility and corporate reputation. Reputation just continues to grow in importance every year and capture top management attention. I cannot say that I was disappointed to learn this.
  • Nearly one-half of elite CCOs report directly to the CEO (48 percent).  Again, this finding underscores the COO-CEO partnership in protecting a company’s reputation. If the CCO and CEO are not in sync, reputation risks can easily multiply.

[The Arthur Page Society recently released research on the changing role of public relations officers too.]  

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross
lesliegainesross@gmail.com

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of reputations.

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