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What Really Matters to Chief Communications Officers

October 10, 2016

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Digital communications and employee engagement will be top priorities for chief communications officers over the next 18 months, says a new survey by Weber Shandwick and Spencer Stuart, an executive search firm.

More than 70 percent of corporate-communications executives surveyed ranked digital communications as their top priority for the coming months, while 90 percent of North American CCOs and 70 percent of those based in Europe, the Middle East and Africa call employee communications a top responsibility.

According to the survey, primary responsibilities for the CCO position, in descending order of importance, include media relations; crisis or reputation management; employee communications; social media or digital communications; corporate social responsibility; foundation or charitable giving; marketing, branding or advertising; government relations or public affairs; marketing research and measurement; data analytics to evaluate company reputation and refine marketing messages — functions that are expected to grow in the next few years, even as CCOs still say they rely more on intuition than analytics; investor relations; and customer experience.

Asked to identify the one area they’d most like to focus on, the majority of CCOs surveyed cited reputation management.

As PRWeek reports, the reason employee engagement is so important to CCOs might be that “employees have a louder voice now more than ever,” said George Jamison, who heads Spencer Stuart’s corporate communications business. Said Leslie Gaines-Ross, chief reputation strategist at Weber Shandwick, “The war for talent is the biggest, most worrisome concern of leaders.” — Greg Beaubien

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