What Makes a Chief Communications Officer Excellent?

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"Investigación internacional promovida por Corporate Excellence - Centre for Reputation Leadership en colaboración con Cees BM van Riel, profesor de Comunicación Corporativa de la Rotterdam School of Management - Erasmus University, para conocer los factores de éxito de los Chief Communications Officer (CCO). La investigación fue realizada entre junio de 2011 y diciembre de 2012 mediante cuestionarios y entrevistas en profundidad a 117 Directores de Comunicación de grandes empresas de Estados Unidos, Reino Unido, Alemania, Francia, España, Italia, Países Bajos, Brasil, México y Chile.

¿Qué determina el éxito del Chief Communications Officer (CCO)? ¿Hasta qué punto las habilidades personales juegan un papel en ese éxito? ¿Cuáles son esas habilidades necesarias? ¿En qué medida el negocio en el que opera la organización es importante? ¿Es un perfil más operativo, táctico, estratégico o una combinación de todos ellos? La investigación señala tres aspectos fundamentales: el CCO debe jugar un papel relevante tanto en su desempeño interno, como directivo de la empresa, así como tener impacto externo a través de su gestión de la comunicación. Y además, debe desarrollar habilidades personales que le permitan ocupar funciones cada vez más estratégicas."

An international research study sponsored by Corporate Excellence – Centre for Reputation Leadership in collaboration with Cees BM van Riel, Corporate Communication Professor at Rotterdam School of Management - Erasmus University. The study addresses the success drivers of Chief Communications Officer (CCO). It was carried out from June 2011 to December 2012, and it used questionnaires and in-depth interviews with 117 Communications Director from large corporations in the U.S., UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Brazil, Mexico and Chile.

What determines the success of Chief Communications Officer (CCO)? To what extent do personal skills play a role in that success? What are those skills? To what extent does the business in which the organization operates play a role? Is it more operational, tactical, strategic or a combination? The research points out three main aspects: the CCO must play an important role both internal and externally, the CCO should implement an impacting communication, and he or she should have the personal skills enable them to carry out strategic tasks.

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What Makes a Chief Communications Officer Excellent?

  1. 1. A study aimed at elaborating understanding of the nature and drivers of excellence of Chief Communications Officers (CCO) Executive Summary What makes a Chief Communications Officer Excellent?
  2. 2. What determines the success of the function of Chief Communications Officer (CCO)? To what degree do personal skills play a role in the success? What are those skills? To what extent does the business in which the organization operates play a role? Is it more operational, tactical, strategic or a combination? The key roles of a successful CCO To succeed, CCOs have to be able to build and maintain a crucial role in external and internal dominant coalition. They also should have a set of personal skills enabling them to perform at a top level. Excellence in these three characteristics will enable CCOs to implement the CCO role 1. Being the “eyes and ears” of the organization. 2. Spending most of their time on building and maintaining relationships with key opinion leaders. 3. Awareness of developments in the relevant political environment. 4. Speaking the language of politicians and civil servants. 5. Analyzing and monitoring reputation risks and opportunities. 6. Spending most of their time on building and maintaining media relations. effectively resulting in an individual perceived by the top of the firm as an excellent CCO. Successful CCOs are characterized by a master combination of twenty roles which build up four important functions: • Being a trusted advisor to the CEO. • Align employees whit the strategy. • Increasing familiarity among key stakeholders. • Carrying out powerful communication actions. Successful CCOs are characterized by a master combination of twenty roles: 7. Maintaining broad network of journalists. 8. Knowing the ins and outs of the journalistic world. 9. Supporting organizational stakes in a diplomatic way. 10. Strategist that knows the business and its context. 11. Building cross-function platforms with other departments. 12. Trusted advisor to the CEO. 13. Always bearing in mind the CEO´s reputation. 14. Giving ongoing advisory support to the C-suite. 15. Spending most time on leading large scale organizational change projects. 16. Connecting easily to the business. 17. Primarily focused on internal change processes. 18. Spending most time on connecting and bonding with various stakeholders-both internally and externally. 19. Ensuring compliance with corporate values. 20. Steering on quantitative facts for determining (communication) strategies and actions. 1 4 Encourage bounding among key stakeholders 2 Being a trusted advisor of the CEO Align employees around strategy 3 Create impactful communication actions
  3. 3. Internal roles of the CCO Interactions with key internal stakeholders Responsibilities & tasks Increasingly CCOs spend 17 % of their daily time advising to business units and the executive board on communications issues. They are mostly consulted on topics that are part of their regular tasks and responsibilities such as company’s reputation, CEO’s reputation, corporate branding strategies, CSR and Public Affairs. CCOs spend most of their time on task and responsibilities that are linked to corporate communication (media relations and internal communications 28 %). This distribution ensures the success of the CCO function, although CCOs believe that more time should be spent on reputation management. 40 %The study reveals almost 40 % of the CCOs are now part of the Executive Board and principally interact with the CEO Being a part of the internal dominant coalition is necessary for a CCO in order to succeed. This implies being well connected with managers at various levels in their company, contributing and providing relevant input for business decisionsfromareputationmanagement perspective and being consulted on topics like, corporate strategy/corporate positioning, CEO reputation and core business decisions that may impact the corporate reputation. They can only do so if they are consulted timely and frequently on company- wide topics. This implies the necessity to understand the business, the ability to express their opinion clearly and convincingly and the skills to provide solutions. It is necessary to have sufficient time to allocate time slots. They should be able to perform their role as a trusted advisor. They should count on a team of people as well as on financial resources to do their work properly. CCOs spend most of their time on tasks and responsabilities linked to corporate communication 14 % 12 % 14 % 10 % The other 50 % are related to advice in communication to bussiness units and executive board, CSR, marketing, public affairs and investors relations. Media relations Internal Communications Reputation Management Corporate Brand identity and positioning 50 %
  4. 4. External roles of the CCO Personal skills & the future and challenges of CCOs Interactions with key external stakeholders CCOs are connected with a broad range of stakeholders, especially with journalists. At the same time they are increasing their influence on peers in the industry, customers, business elites and industry organizations. CCOs are increasingly close to customers; most of them claim to have 11 to 15 meetings a year with this stakeholder group. Being part of the external dominant coalition is also highly important in order to be considered an excellent CCO. This implies that CCOs should be well-connected with key external stakeholders and able to facilitate stakeholder alignment, thus improving their perception of the firm. This implies having a clear understanding of which groups matter the most to the organization, communicating at rational and affective level with stakeholders that are supportive, neutral and negative to the firm. Communication channels Employees as ambassadors (17,7 %), and social media such as Twitter (25 %), LinkedIn (22,2 %) and YouTube (21,3 %) are currently the most popular channels used by CCOs to communicate and connect with stakeholders. 17,7 % Employees as ambassadors 25 % Twitter 22,2 % Linkedin 21,3 % YouTube 4,1 % others Investors / Shar eholders Politicia ns Custom ers NGO s Business Elites Industry O rg. Journalists Peers CCO Circles of Influence Excellent CCOs should have a set of personal skills enabling them to perform at a top level. Not only communications skills, but the right mix of communication skills, business skills, leadership skills, stakeholder integration skills, sales support skills and being highly aware of the context in which the company operates. The challenge for the next generation of CCOs will be to balance tha arts arts of communications with the rational approaches in metrics, strategy and commercial areas. Academic and professional organizations should promote these developments through trainning and lobbying. CCOs will be more efficient if they have the right mix of skills acquired by tranning and experience.
  5. 5. Levels of excellence of Chief Communications Officers Four levels of CCO excellence can be distinguished from a “one-star” CCO to a “four-star” CCO. The more stars a CCO role has, the higher the impact on CCO success will be. Not all companies need “four-star CCOs”. The top performers will be searched for by companies in specific industries where the reputational Stakeholder alignment manager Roles: –Connecting and bonding with stakeholders- both internally and externally. –Ensuring compliance with corporate values –Steering on quantitative facts for determining communication strategies and actions. Skills – Communications skills. – Business skills. – Leadership. Relationship–builder Roles – Being the ‘eyes and ears’ of the organization, spending most time on building and maintaining relationships with key opinion leaders. – Awareness of developments in the relevant political environment. – Analyzing and monitoring reputation risks and opportunities. – Building and maintaining media relations. – Maintaining broad network of journalists, knowing the ins and outs of the journalistic world. Skills – Communication skills. – Context awareness skills. – Stakeholder integration skills. Internal Change Master Roles –Leading large scale organizational change projects. –Primarily focused on internal change processes. –Connecting easily to the business. Skills – Leadership skills. – Context awareness. – Stakeholder integration skills. – Sales Support skills. – Business skills. C-suite, Business & Stakeholder Integrator Roles – Trusted advisor to the CEO. –Supporting organizational stakes in a diplomatic way. –Strategist that knows the business and its context. –Building cross-function platforms with other departments. –Always bearing on mind CEO´s reputation. –Advising the C-suite. Skills – Communication skills. – Business skills. – Leadership skills. – Context awareness skills. – Stakeholder integration skills. – Sales Support skills. Marijke Baumann Senior consultant, Reputation Institute in The Netherlands. Cees B.M.van Riel Professor of Corporate Communication, Rotterdam School of Management/Erasmus University. Co-founder, Reputation Institute. Ángel Alloza CEO Corporate Excellence – Centre for Reputation Leadership Study Research Authors: Study Research Director: This study aims to determine the drivers of the CCO function and the success conditions of the defined drivers. This document outlines the approach to study the critical success factors of the CCO function, the timeline and the budget.This is an international research involving 117 Communication Directors of the most reputable companies in the U.S.A, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Brazil, Mexico, and Chile. Collaborators: Majorie Dijkstra, Director of Applied Research, Corporate Communication Centre Erasmus University Rotterdam; Saida García, Senior Project Manager, Corporate Excellence – Centre for Reputation Leadership; Magdalena Mut, PhD & Lecturer, Universitat Jaume I of Castellón; Nuria Villagra García, Lecturer, Complutense University of Madrid, and Ana Casado, PhD in Communications, University of Malaga, & Lecturer at the University of Sevilla. risk is high. They will surely be needed in companies that rapidly grow and already reached a mature stage of development in reputation management. However, some organizations will need CCOs with fewer stars too. Having fewer stars does not mean at all that these CCOs are less qualified. On the contrary, their skills can match perfectly well the demands of the organization at that specific moment.
  6. 6. Leading by reputation www.corporateexcellence.org #globalCCO ©2013, Corporate Excellence – Centre for Reputation Leadership A foudation established by major companies aiming to excel in the management of intangible assets and facilitate promotion of strong brands with a good reputation and a capacity to compete on the global markets. Our objective is to become the driving force, which would lead and consolidate professional reputation management as a strategic asset, fundamental for building value of companies around the world. Disclaimer This document is a property of Corporate Excellence – Centre for Reputation Leadership developed with an objective to share business knowledge about management of reputation, brand, communication and public affairs. Corporate Excellence – Centre for Reputation Leadership is the owner of all rights to the intellectual property related to images, texts, drawings or any other content or elements of this product. Corporate Excellence e – Centre for Reputation Leadership is the holder of all necessary permissions for the use of the document and therefore any reproduction, distribution, publishing or modification of the document without its express permission is prohibited

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