Chief Communications Officer’s Role Expands as Social Media Threat Grows

It’s a great time to be a chief communications officer (CCO), says Richard Marshall, Korn Ferry global managing director, corporate affairs and a co-author of its survey of Fortune 500 CCOs. “The position’s responsibilities are broadening [see chart]…CEOs increasingly recognize the CCO’s importance and compensation is growing accordingly [chart below].”


CCOs earn their money, however, as “expectations placed on CCOs are broadening, too,” he says. A brand’s reputation can be dented faster than at any time in history, in large part due to social media. That’s why the 75 Fortune 500 CCOs who responded to the study said their top priorities included protecting the brand against fallout from social media attacks, knocks from activist shareholders and issues arising from defective products. With branded content and social media rising in importance, hiring staff with skills in digital PR, storytelling and writing is a top priority, the CCOs said. A subset of CCOs is moving beyond communications to corporate leadership, strategy and problem solving. As one respondent described the CCO’s larger role: “Anticipate risks and opportunities and get ahead of them. Build key relationships before those relationships are critically necessary. Deliver excellent communications that actually serve the needs of the business.”


Source: Korn Ferry 2014-15 CCO Survey

This article originally appeared in the September 14, 2015 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.