The Public Relations Strategist

Thoughts on Lifelong Learning and the New CCO

April 26, 2016

During his distinguished career, Robert L. Dilenschneider has hired more than 3,000 successful professionals — and mentored and counseled many others.

In this issue, Dilenschneider, founder of the Dilenschneider Group and former president and CEO of Hill & Knowlton, offers career advice for PR practitioners in the over-50 category, who either need a new job or hope to start their own consultancy.

Some of the wisdom comes from his recently published book “50 Plus! Critical Career Decisions for the Rest of Your Life.” Many of his own successes came after the age of 50.

“When I started The Dilenschneider Group 25 years ago, I put together a team of the best people I could find — many of them who were over the age of 50,” he writes. “I like working with experienced pros who don’t need a lot of direction, can work as a team, have contacts in the media and know how to run a business without minute-by-minute supervision.

Steve Lubetkin, APR, Fellow PRSA, is another PR professional who continues to achieve career accomplishments. In 2004, his corporate livelihood came to an end after a series of reorganizations and mergers. He took this as an opportunity to reinvent himself. Tapping into his experience as a radio broadcaster after college, Lubetkin launched a podcasting service.

“The message from my experience … is to dig deeply into the skill set you have created and look for the things that excite you and drive your passions,” he says.

The new CCO

In keeping with the issue’s career theme, Managing Editor Amy Jacques recently attended a presentation at Edelman on the Arthur W. Page Society’s new report titled “The New CCO: Transforming Enterprises in a Changing World.”

We offer some takeaways on the report here. Two years in the making, “The New CCO” examines the ways communications is shifting and what this means for both CCOs and their organizations.

“The CCO has evolved as the role has moved from being a manager to more of an integrator,” Tina McCorkindale, Ph.D., APR, president and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations, told The Strategist. “How stakeholders are communicating has changed the game. Most aspects of the organization are touched by these systems — legal, marketing, finance, customer service, HR, IT. The CCO can be the ‘octopus’ of the organization with tentacles stretched in many areas — the CCO is fluid and constantly moving to help integration.”

Afterward, McCorkindale shared more thoughts on the topic with Amy, including the research she conducted with Dr. Terry Flynn of McMaster University.

On the changing C-suite:

“We found that the C-suite has doubled in size over the last 30 years — CEOs have more direct reports than ever. This can be challenging to functionally implement, as well as enact integrated strategies. Silos were still the function of some C-suites,” she said. “Clearly, there is a need for more integration and collaboration. Change management, employee engagement and corporate culture were other issues that impact the C-suite. This is why the new CCO report is critical. It lays the basic foundation, but also talks about the role of integrator and builder of Digital Engagement Systems (DES).”

On the shifting roles of other senior-level leaders:

“We also found that the roles of the individual members of the C-suite have evolved as well. CIOs are focused on digital and engagement, as well as innovation; security is an important concern as well. This was not necessarily the case 10 years ago. Research conducted by the Arthur W. Page Society found that CCO engagement with the CIO has increased dramatically, thanks in part to the DES.”

John Elsasser

John Elsasser is the editor-in-chief of Strategies & Tactics. He joined PRSA in 1994. Email:

Email: john.elsasser at


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