The New CCO: Transforming Reputation of an Enterprise in a Changing World

Recalling the person behind this society, Arthur W. Page, AT&T VP of PR (1927 – 1946), was how Roger Bolton started his talk at #PRAXIS5.

“We are named after a real person.  And that’s important because people have character and we believe that enterprises have character as well.  It is important that we emulate someone who stands for something,” he said. His description of Arthur Page went like this: he was the first head of PR for a company who was more than just a publicity man.  He not only served on the senior management committee but he served on the Board of the company and he served on the Board of several other publicly traded companies. He was also  the advisor to several presidents of the United States.

The Page Principles are very clearly set –
tell the truth,
prove it with action,
listen to the stakeholder,
manage for tomorrow,
realise a company’s true character is expressed by its people,
conduct public relations as if the whole company depends on it,
remain calm, patient and good-humored.

With such clear principles in place, their distinctive identity is experienced by all who interact with the enterprise. It is on this basis that any organisation or brand is – or isn’t – relevant and attractive to any and all of its key stakeholders: its customers, its investors, its employees and society at large.

And critically, “this distinctive corporate character is what makes the enterprise worthy of trust. Its values must be admirable, and they must be lived consistently by the entire organisation,” he pointed out. It builds the unique identity of the organisation, and the CCO is well positioned to make the case that “this is what we should do”! The role of the CCO is to build trustworthiness for the enterprise and then build stakeholder engagement.

Page Society Mission is: “To strengthen the enterprise leadership role of the chief communications officer by embracing the highest professional standards; by advancing the way communications is understood, practiced and taught; and by providing a collegial and dynamic learning environment”.

Clarifying the term ‘Corporate Responsibility’ he stressed on the crucial factors:  it’s important that a company has a clear mission and purpose at its core, uses its resources to drive change in the world, and communicates openly and transparently about how products are sourced and made. ‘Corporate Character’ refers to the enterprise’s unique, differentiating identity, which includes: Mission, Purpose, Values, Culture, Strategy, Business Model and Brand.

Moving on to the topic of “THE NEW CCO: Transforming Enterprises in a Changing World”, he pointed out that the new drivers of change are – geopolitical and demographic shifts, disruptive business models – changing nature of work  and stakeholder activism. In this connection, Page Society launched a new report to examine the key ways that the CCO role has evolved to date and what it might look like in the future, which included interviews with senior business leaders, CCOs and other C-Suite executives, and executive recruiters, along with additional informal discussions with Page members at events and through an online forum called Page Jam.

With the evolving communication scene, there are five key trends.

1) Shifting investment: CCOs are increasingly directing resources toward content-based engagement, such as social and owned media, and new measurement systems.

2) Creation of new job roles: Employees with new skills and responsibilities must be added, such as content and engagement designer, digital strategist, behavioral scientist and culture czar.

3) New partnerships: CCOs are increasingly supplementing their in-house capabilities with external expertise in areas like behavioral economics, data analytics and content creation.

4) New measurements and KPIs: Data-driven platforms are giving CCOs new methods and metrics to evaluate the business results being delivered by the communications function.

5) Increased focus on integration: CCO’s collaboration with C-Suite colleagues has increased, most greatly with the CIO. CCOs are aggressively trying to achieve cross-functional integration, become agile and draw on key planning disciplines.

So, the new CCO will have three distinct roles – the Foundational CCO, the CCO as Integrator and the CCO as Builder of digital engagement systems.

The CCO will have a prominent role in transforming enterprises. The distinctive identity of a corporate is experienced by all who interact with the enterprise. It is on this basis that any organisation or brand is – or isn’t – relevant and attractive to any and all of its key stakeholders: its customers, its investors, its employees and society at large.

And critically, this distinctive corporate character is what makes the enterprise worthy of trust. Its values must be admirable, and they must be lived consistently by the entire organisation.

“I stand before you with a strong sense of optimism,” he said, convinced that this will be the road ahead.

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Shree Lahiri
Shree is the Senior Editor at Reputation Today and hopes to move from one focus area to another in the editions that will be released this year. Having worked in Corporate Communications teams, she has experience of advertising, public relations, investor and employee communications, after which she moved to the other side – journalism. She enjoys writing and believes the power of the pen is indeed mighty. Covering the entertainment beat and the media business, she has been involved in a wide range of activities that have thrown open storytelling opportunities.

She can be reached at: @shree_la on twitter

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