The 11th Hour Hitch: Perfect Time to Ditch

Barring some rare but wonderful exceptions, if one were to dig a little deep into the emotions most of the CCOs (Chief Communication Officers) go through when they interact with their respective reporting line CEOs (Chief Executive Officers), one of the key takeaways the word cloud will lead us to will be – ‘Why am I getting to know about this now…at the 11th hour! It would have helped if I was told about this much earlier.’ 

One of the challenges that most of the CCOs face is that their reporting lines do not think of them or reach out to them ‘when they should’. Most of the CEOs think of their CCOs only when a decision, already taken, needs to be converted into ‘news’ or a business situation is very near or already in a state of crisis…the 11th hour Hitch!

Does this sentiment mirror the current disruptive times? No! Instead, it is a sentiment that has been simmering deep inside many CCOs for so many years now. Hence, if the 11th Hour syndrome has been the sore point between CEOs & CCOs even during normal times in the past, how can we expect to see the much needed stronger & more collaborative CEO-CCO collective during Business Not As Usual (BNAU) phase, like COVID19! CCOs managing Corporate Brand Reputation across stakeholders and protecting the Balance Sheet during current disruptive times will need much deeper Collaboration, Discipline and Trust from their reporting lines.

Deep down, we already know WHY CCOs get the 11th hour approach from their reporting lines. One of the key ones being that they are primarily perceived as “News Management” specialists. The thought that CCOs have the potential of becoming “Business Management” experts or influencers as well does not cross the CEOs’ minds very easily. 

So, instead of WHY, let us discuss the ‘WHEN’ and ‘HOW’ aspects:

(WHEN) NOW is a good time to change this habit: 

  • Disruptions, like the ones we are currently in, demand high EQ (Emotional Quotient) in the Communications Planning and Delivery matrix. For real effectiveness, Messaging, its Frequency & creation of Innovative Target Audience Touchpoints have to be of extraordinary levels 
  • It should be able to connect with multiple stakeholders over and above just the customers – the revenue generators. This potential or ability belongs only to CCOs. This uniqueness will address some of the most important KRAs of the CEOs! 
  • To keep the business numbers chugging, CEOs have to depend on a lubricant that can be achieved only through the most cost-effective brand communication matrix of Earned, Owned and Shared Media Communications. Again, an expertise of the CCOs only
  • The fact that Paid communications takes a backseat during such situations is a no brainer! 

Hence, Covid19 offers great opportunity for the CCOs to change their internal customer’s perception of & increase dependency on them…and thereby breaking the 11th Hour Hitch

(HOW) Approach that can eventually and permanently erase the 11th Hour Hitch: 

  • If you think of it, this section has to be all about Data and Management Information System (MiS)
  • CEOs process the KRAs given to them in terms of Data – which further gives way to the MiS matrix. Hence, any help or value addition towards his KRAs will also therefore be through the language of Data
  • A CCO’s journey of erasing the 11th Hour Hitch has to start and end with i) thorough understanding of every single KRA of the CEO ii) translation into data 
  • This needs investment of time, discipline and most importantly, the knowledge of the Art & Science of showcasing CCO efforts in Data language.

A good way to start this can be:

  •  How can a CCO add value into the CEO’s life right from morning till night? Here, the understanding of the pattern of business scenarios a CEO goes through each day is very essential.
  • So far, on an average, the topic of News Coverage management would take up 80-100% of a CCO’s time spent with the CEO. How can this ratio be reduced to, say, just 50%? The remaining 50% is where the CCO can create business value, beyond “news management”, that will support the CEO’s KRAs.
  • How can the CCO build in an intelligent Data Dashboard which the CEO will have easy access to? Here, not only will the CEO track Brand Communications efforts but more importantly, will get to see the outcome of CCO’s efforts. 

Every disruption presents opportunities. COVID19 will not be different either. Given the stringent KRAs and underlying pressures, this situation will only cajole the CEO’s to increase their dependency on a desk that is Versatile, Effective, Emotive and Holistic. Which is why, the current time is perfect for CCOs to change their type and frequency of interaction with their CEOs or reporting lines.

From the avoidable 11th Hour Hitch, this situation allows CCOs to transcend into a new win-win era. An era of a “NEW NORMAL” when the CEOs think of and involve CCOs in their KRAs round the clock!


The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Siddhartha Mukherjee
Siddhartha is a Brand Communications Consultant, Coach & Entrepreneur. During the last 22 years of his learning experience in India, he wore three ‘Thinking Hats’ – As the Business Head of India’s Neutral & Holistic Brand Communication Measurement & Analytics service, As a Corporate Communications Head and As a Communication Consultancy Professional. He was part of the Senior Management Team at TAM Media Research (Nielsen-Kantar JV). He has also worked for various leading Communication Consultancies. He feels privileged that his learnings and experiences have come from India – one of the world’s most complicated markets. He feels it is time to break the norm by positioning India as the hotbed of success stories and teach Brand Communication & Management to the Western world.

1 Comment on "The 11th Hour Hitch: Perfect Time to Ditch"

  1. Mamta Abuchandani | April 23, 2020 at 6:39 PM | Reply

    It is so surprising that in spite of being the backbone of organizations , by playing an important part in getting recognition to company and brands communication professionals are rarely recognized. Brand values are flouted and they are seen as spoilers. This is an every day story across the organizations not limited to geographical or cultural boundries.

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