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Nov 03, 2020

Approx. 12 min. read

The Chief Communication Officer's Role in Driving Business Success

Today, Chief Communication Officers wear many different hats. Their duties and responsibilities within organizations have changed significantly in...

chief-communication-officer

Today, Chief Communication Officers wear many different hats. Their duties and responsibilities within organizations have changed significantly in the past few years. Moreover, they are now considered as one of the most important strategic business partners within organizations.  

In this blog, you will learn about why the role of Chief Communication Officers is crucial for driving business success and continuity, ensuring alignment among different stakeholders, and providing leadership and guidance. 

📚 Since one of the main responsibilities of every Chief Communication Officer is to ensure effective workplace communications, also check our eBook "Building a Better Company with Internal Communications”.

Who Are Chief Communication Officers

Chief Communication Officers can have many different responsibilities including corporate communications, reputation management, leadership communications, internal communications, and counseling top managers in decision-making processes. 

chief-communication-officerTherefore, their role is now closely linked to C-suite, and their power in driving the overall business success is significant. Moreover, CCOs are getting recognized for their role in driving day-to-day business results.

These changes in CCOs' duties and responsibilities have been impacted by the changing nature of communications with different stakeholders. According to research, more than 7 in 10 global Chief Communications Officers (CCOs) expect to increase their focus on digital communications and 91% expect to work more closely with digital/social media departments over the next few years.

CCO-factsToday, the Chief Communication Officer’s job is not only about announcements around a company's finances, projects, product releases, or promotions.

Communication in the workplace also shapes the business narrative and employee experience, handles crises and change management processes. These new roles are even more evident now when the current pandemic is disrupting business continuity of many organizations across the world.  

Also, business communication is much harder to plan than it used to be, which is why agile communication is one of the biggest strategic priorities. More and more, communication happens spontaneously, and the flow of information happens much faster. It is the CCO's responsibility to adapt to these changes by rethinking their existing communication strategies.

Let’s now take a deeper dive into why Chief Communications Officers’ jobs have changed so much

💡 Also learn about 12 Steps to a Successful Enterprise Agile Transformation.

The Changing Role of a Chief Communication Officer

Today, CCOs are expected to have a strategic mindset. According to the Korn Ferry Institute, 67% of Fortune 500 organizations say that CCOs are expected to anticipate future opportunities and turn them into breakthrough strategies for success. 

In today’s competitive and ever-changing business landscape, business transformation initiatives have to be closely connected to communication strategies in order to be effective. Moreover, previously mentioned research also found that Fortune 500 Chief Communications Officers (CCOs) have increasingly prominent roles and rising leadership expectations.

chief-communication-officers-statsCEOs expect Chief Communications Officers to act as strategic business advisors. They expect them to drive the corporate change and ensure that their companies’ messages are consistent and transparent across all touchpoints and audiences including partners, employees, customers and investors. 

When it comes to internal employee communications, remote work and dispersed workplaces have also had a big impact on the role of CCOs. More than ever, employees expect to stay informed and educated about how their company is doing, and they expect to always be connected with their peers and higher-ups.

Why and How Chief Communication Officers Can Drive Business Success

As seen earlier, communication professionals are responsible for ensuring business continuity and driving business success. Even though many organizations have yet to learn about how to incorporate business communications into the most important corporate strategies, many have already realized the importance of communication in making a positive impact on business performance

Let’s now take a look into why Chief Communication Officers are now considered a crucial line of business in any organization. 

Strategic partnership

The business environment is changing significantly, and we are now mostly talking about online business environments which can be hard to adapt to. The ways employers communicate with their employees and other stakeholders are significantly different, and it happens via new channels that didn’t even exist a few years ago.

One thing that we all became aware of this year is that a company’s CCO must be able to plan, develop, and execute sophisticated strategies across multiple communication channels. 

As strategic business partners and C-suite advisors, CCOs are responsible for the long-term success of the communication department and its future contribution to organizational performance. Strategic communicators are able to leverage the emergence of digital communications and identify potentials for innovation in the workplace to support the growth of the organization. 

Employee communications and internal relations

Driving open, transparent and honest internal communication is one of the critical roles of every Chief Communication Officer. Understanding internal audiences’ needs, fears, expectations, and preferences enables organizations to improve the overall workplace experience and drive employees’ success and productivity. Moreover, poor employee communication can cause significant financial losses for an organization. 

POOR-COMMUNICATION-COSTEven though many employees often feel voiceless, many organizations have started to realize the importance of employee feedback, share of voice, and continuous workplace dialogues. This is why companies are now placing greater emphasis on keeping employees well informed, conducting ongoing dialogues, and incorporating employees’ views into the overall business strategy and processes. 

As employee experience is becoming the new customer experience, CCOs also have a great responsibility in driving positive employee experience, gaining employees’ attention, and boosting engagement with various organizational initiatives.  

10_principles_cta💡 Also read about the 4 Things to Consider for an Internal Communication Strategy.

Corporate alignment

Every employee should understand corporate strategy in order to stay aligned and collaboratively work towards achieving great results. Yet, less than 50% of employees feel connected to their organization’s mission

workplace-communication-alignmentHence, CCOs are also responsible for clearly communicating business goals. To do that, they must be able to segment internal audiences, choose the right communication channels and content formats when addressing different stakeholders inside and outside the organization. 

In this role, Chief Communication Officers are held accountable for providing platforms, tools, content, and strategy around how to articulate strategic management decisions both internally and externally.

Organizations that see communications professionals as partners in driving organizational alignment with the core company values see much better results and higher employee satisfaction. 

Change management

Research shows that only 38% of people like to leave their comfort zone. The other 62%, however, often feel fear and discomfort about change. Company communicators have an important role in communicating the benefits and consequences of organizational change. In change processes, company communicators create vision, promote change, and lead the way as a strategic pioneer of new ideas.

By using authentic communication and answering the “What’s in it for me?” question, they have great power in getting employees’ buy-in and driving acceptance and alignment.

change-communication🎧 To learn more about change management and agility in communications listen to our interview with Sophie Maddison from Booking.com here:

 

Crisis communications

2020 was the year when we all learned about the importance of responding fast to a crisis. CCOs have the weighty responsibility in crisis and risk management, and they are expected to provide wise counsel to the senior team about important decisions.

Moreover, they are responsible for educating and informing the entire workforce and enabling managers to effectively communicate with their teams. Yet, nearly 30% of crisis professionals believe that employees are the most overlooked stakeholders when their organization is dealing with crisis.

chief-communication-officers-crisis-managementFrequent changes with workplace policies and procedures due to crisis can lead to frustration and confusion among employees and other stakeholders. This is especially evident among frontline, hard-to-reach employees who don’t have designated working space. 

Still, many companies struggle to reach them with important information in a timely manner, resulting in more workplace accidents and loss in productivity.  

Ambassadorship and advocacy

Many Chief Communication Officers are responsible for driving brand ambassadorship in the workplace. Moreover, they themselves should be able to convey the corporate strategy to key stakeholders to ensure the corporation's legitimacy. They should act as official ambassadors on behalf of the organization

In collaboration with other departments, such as marketing, sales, and HR, corporate communications can also drive better brand awareness, create more leads and revenues, and attract new talent to their organizations.  

The key here is to identify existing brand ambassadors and encourage others to participate in the organization’s brand advocacy programs. Similar to any change, communicators need to find ways to catch employees’ attention by communicating the importance and benefits of brand advocacy. 

💡 Further reading: The Importance of Corporate Communication.

Reputation management

In the research conducted by Korn Ferry Institute, the vast majority of respondents (83%) identified reputational threats/risks as the most critical challenge CCOs face today. 

Here is how CCOs from the research see their role in reputation management: 

“Creating consistent messaging across all stakeholders that clearly communicates the company’s progress … our vision for the future, and the roadmap on how we intend to get there. Corporate reputation management is more important than ever.”

Data-informed decision-making

One of the biggest challenges of every Chief Communication Officer is to measure the impact and effectiveness of communications. Today, they are expected to be able to evaluate the success of communication activities and channels, measure and interpret communication data, and report to top management. 

measuring-communicationFor example, many communications professionals are not aware of the inefficiency of some communication channels used in their organizations.

Did you know that the average employee receives 121 emails and 62% of these emails are not important? Without being able to measure the effectiveness of particular channels, it is impossible to drive improvements

The inability to prove the value of communication in the workplace is making many communications professionals rethink their existing workplace technologies. Luckily, modern, AI-powered employee apps provide a way for CCOs and other communicators to tie communication to specific business goals and outcomes. 

The Wide Scope of CCO’s Duties and Responsibilities

Throughout this blog, we learned about the rising importance of Chief Communication Officers and Communication Managers in driving better business results. This is not surprising as the range of CCO’s duties and responsibilities can be extremely wide. Moreover, they often touch on many different aspects of business and collaborate with various departments in their organizations. 

CCOs surveyed in the previously mentioned research can cover all of the following functions:

  • Corporate advertising
  • Corporate communications
  • Media relations
  • Internal communications
  • Executive communications
  • Crisis management
  • Corporate reputation
  • Corporate strategy
  • CSR
  • Corporate philanthropy
  • Marketing
  • Event management
  • Community relations
  • Investor relations
  • Government relations
  • Public policy
  • Social media strategy and other

Below, you can also see the split in these responsibilities among CCOs. 

chief-communication-officer-duties-responsibilities

When these professionals were asked about parts of business strategy receive the most attention and effort, they responded with:

  • Providing leadership
  • Designing systems
  • Developing and publishing
  • Analyzing data
  • Behavior science
  • Corporate character and other

chief-communication-officer-focus-areas

Improving Business Communication with Technology

The role of technology in improving corporate communications is inevitable. With the rise of complexity in communication ecosystems within and outside organizations, many employers are looking for new solutions that enable them to:

  • Integrate communication efforts under a single platform 
  • Streamline the flow of information
  • Make communications more engaging and relevant to target audiences
  • Reach the right audience with the right content at the right time  
  • Consolidate different communication, collaboration, and document-sharing solutions into a single solution
  • Move to mobile-first workplace communication
Employee communication solutions like Smarp offer an innovative and efficient approach to workplace communications. Organizations across the world are using Smarp to:
 
  • Better understand employees’ communication preferences
  • Create, curate, and publish communications in one centralized location
  • Segment internal audience by location, department, function, interests, and more
  • Deliver personalized and relevant information in multiple channels (including mobile, desktop, email, intranet, chat, and more)
  • Drive open, two-way communication in the workplace
  • Encourage and drive brand ambassadorship and advocacy
  • Identify existing brand ambassadors
  • Automate content delivery from internal and external sources
  • Measure the impact communications has on strategic business goals
  • Easily reach every employee, from the office to the frontline with important information
  • Provide an efficient way for managers to stay connected with their teams
  • Make managers more approachable
  • Drive authentic and transparent leadership communications

If you are looking for such a solution, schedule a Smarp demo to learn how to bring your communication strategy to the next level and enable your Chief Communication Officers for success.

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Written by

Kristina Martic

Kristina Martic

Digital Marketing and Employer Branding

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