CEOs questioning communications

July 12, 2012

CEOs questioning communications

 A recent study just came out saying that CEOs think that marketers are losing sight of their jobs. In the survey from Fournaise Marketing Group, 70% of the CEOs surveyed said that marketers and communicators are disconnected from business results and are living “too much in their creative and social media bubble.” There did not appear to be a separation between marketing and communicators so I imagine that CEOs consider them one and the same.  Although CEOs consider the marketing metrics of the day (Likes and Twitter followers) interesting, they do not consider them critical to advancing the business. The metrics CEOs were most interested in were market share, sell-in, sell-out and linking communications spending to gross profit and other tangible returns. As the CEO of Fournaise says, “They will have to transform themselves into true business-driven ROI marketers or forever remain in what 65% of CEOs told us they call ‘marketing la-la land.’” Quite the indictment.
This report on CEOs was in direct contrast to what we learned in our survey with Spencer Stuart on what is on the minds of CCOs (chief communications officers) around the world who believe that their senior management wants them to improve reputation and get their social media operations up to par. This made me wonder whether CEOs do not fully understand the impact that social media can have on their businesses and therefore consider it less than mission-critical today. Or whether marketing communications professionals were missing the boat altogether and picking up on the wrong signals. Like most things, I tend to think it is somewhere in-between. CEOs need to understand how the ground under their feet is shifting when any individual can harm a company’s reputation and bottom line and marketing communicators need not only beef up their business acumen but better explain the ROI on social media.  The two studies provide a study in contrast, to say the least.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

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 corporate and CEO reputations.

  • Bob Leahy
    Posted at 20:45h, 12 July Reply

    The attached link may partially reflect the disconnect. Regardless, the digital elite are on notice that social graces may be less pronounced than thought. The failure to link market share, revenue or earnings to social discourse is likely the ultimate cause.

  • Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA
    Posted at 18:43h, 13 July Reply

    Bob Leahy makes a good point in that oftentimes communicators fail to clearly link their social results to business results.In addition, there may be an assumption on the part of the communication officers that their senior management understand and, therefore, endorse their social media efforts without specifically asking “do you support my social media efforts?”

    Internal communication is as important as external and, in the case of the still-relatively-new social media communication aspect, even moreso.

    Very interesting post. Thanks, Leslie!

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