View from the Top: New Study Reveals CEO Perceptions on Communications

I recently read a new survey published by the Arthur W. Page Society, The CEO View: The Impact of Communications on Corporate Character in a 24×7 Digital World, that shared insight from interviews with 20 leading CEOs of Fortune 50 companies on their opinions about strategic communications and the changing role of Chief Communications Officers (CCOs) in today’s companies.

The commissioned research is an update to the Society’s 2007 study The Authentic Enterprise assessing the strategic importance of communications to CEOs in building View from the Top: New Study Reveals CEO Perceptions on Communications image communicate 300x265brands and corporate reputation.

There are a lot of great insights in the report. Here are just a few key findings from the study and implications for CCOs that I found particularly relevant in today’s global business climate:

Social media gains (more) respect. CEOs no longer view social media as “emerging” technologies but an imperative communications channel to engage with various stakeholders. They are looking for CCOs to understand, interpret and manage social media in a way that explains the impact on their business.

Character, reputation and values define corporations. Increased transparency has led CEOs to place a greater emphasis on understanding the diverse perspectives of internal and external stakeholders to help shape corporate identity and reputation. This is good news for CCOs, who have an opportunity to define and communicate company values that are authentic to the organization. For more insights from the Society on aligning corporate values, read here.

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Hard-data rules. In this data-obsessed world, CEOs want better and more intricate measurement of their company’s reputation. The report calls this “high-resolution measurement” and CCOs need to have the right tools at hand, such as reputation scorecards or dashboards, to measure the impact of strategic communications in executing the business plan. The study indicates some CEOs “report measuring as many as 30 different brand attributes as experienced by as many as 15 discrete stakeholder groups.”

24/7 news cycle. The “always on” news cycle with the rise of social media and online news outlets is definitely here to stay. CEOs understand the urgency to respond to issues with the speed of information itself and the complexity of addressing many constituents with appropriate communication. CEOs value the role of CCOs in “proactively building relationships with all stakeholders via all available channels” to establish goodwill and help protect corporate reputation in the event of a crisis.

Do these findings resonate with your CEO? How do they impact your role as a communications executive? Share your thoughts and comments.

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