How the changing media has impacted the work of CCOs

Planning a media campaign is much more complicated that it used to be, and with the rise of social media and the advent of a constantly updated news cycle, there‘s little time to plan at all. Chief Communications Officers (CCOs) have to act quickly to keep up with the constant changes of the media landscape.

PR firm, Weber Shandwick, and global executive search firm, Spencer Stuart, examined the changing media and its effects on the responsibilities of CCOs in its study, The Rising CCO V: Chief Communications Officers’ Perspectives on a Changing Media Environment. The vast majority of European CCOs (85 per cent) agree that the changes in the media environment have had a significant impact on communications strategies.

Leslie Gaines-Ross, Chief Reputation Strategist, Weber Shandwick offers three key insights into how European CCOs are navigating this evolving world:

1. Companies are doing more. Compared to a few years ago, European CCOs say they are doing an average of nearly five more activities. The activities that top the growth list are hiring digital or social media experts (75 per cent), strengthening employee communications (69 per cent) and developing relationships with influential bloggers and Tweeters (63 per cent). CCOs are doing more to stay relevant in the face of evolving practices and expectations, such as the increasing prevalence of social media. Says one European CCO from the study, “Look back at how we communicated five years ago and how we do now. Technology is advancing, is cheaper and everybody has access.”

But CCOs aren’t forgetting about more low-tech activities. Nearly half (48 per cent) of European CCOs are devoting more attention to developing relationships with journalists. In addition, an equal number of CCOs (48 per cent) are focusing on developing relationships with thought leaders. These relationships help to distinguish companies and burnish companies’ reputations. CCOs are also paying attention to their relationships with regulators and government representatives, an important activity in this era following financial crisis and scandal. Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, actually refers to government relations as his company’s seventh line of business.

Compared to past few years, company is doing more of…

(among European CCOs)


Hiring digital or social media experts


Strengthening employee communications


Developing relationships with influential bloggers and Tweeters


Developing relationships with journalists


Developing relationships with regulators or government representatives


Developing relationships with thought leaders


Developing relationships with NGOs or non-profits


Hiring big data analysts


Developing relationships with academics


Hiring journalists as company employees


Developing relationships with conference organizers


Average # activities companies are doing more of


2. CCOs expect social media to continue to grow. Nine in 10 (90 per cent) European CCOs expect social media to increase in importance over the next few years as a communications tool. In fact, CCOs predict social media will have the greatest impact on their job in the near future. Mobile (78 per cent) and video production (76 per cent) are also expected to become increasingly important as communications tools. European CCOs are digitizing their departments to meet demands of stakeholders. One European CCO claims, “The consumer is more and more digital.” Another predicts, “Media distribution will continue to change, with online growing faster than ever.”

Will increase in importance over next few years as a communications tool…

(among European CCOs)


Social media




Video production, YouTube or other video channel


Digital community management


Company website


Owned media


Big data


Earned media


Sponsored content/native advertising


Paid media


3. Content publishing/branded journalism is gaining favour. More than half (56 per cent) of European CCOs report that their companies are already creating and publishing their own content. One in 10 (10 per cent) are in the process of preparing to become original content publishers and another 21 per cent are considering doing so as a future initiative. This trend will undoubtedly lead to further changes in the media environment.

The pace of change doesn’t look set to let up. European CCOs expect additional changes on the horizon. Gaines-Ross points out that almost one quarter (23 per cent) believe the media environment will change extensively over the next few years, and another 62 per cent expect a moderate amount of change. She concludes: “CCOs will need to adapt to the evolving environment if they want to continue to be successful.”

“One European CCO sums it up by saying, ‘we have to be prepared for what is coming but without forgetting what is working.’ By relying on an ever-expanding toolbox of technological opportunities together with their strategic communications skills, CCOs can distinguish their companies and successfully manage their reputations.”


Weber Shandwick and Spencer Stuart surveyed 203 of the world’s top communications professionals, including 52 European CCOs, and asked them what changes they have seen thus far and what they expect in the years ahead.

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