As the business landscape shifts due to global disruptions and changing societal expectations, the chief communication officer (CCO) role is expanding and transforming. This is one of the major findings of our latest research report, Beyond Communication: CCO Leadership in Navigating New Complexity, due out next week. In it, we analyze how the role has evolved in the five years since our last major report, The CCO as Pacesetter.

For many CCOs, their remit and/or sphere of influence extends into neighboring functions that benefit from a multistakeholder approach. More than half of the CCO placements made by Heidrick & Struggles between 2020 and 2023 included a responsibility beyond internal and external communication. The most common new responsibility for CCOs is “transformation,” a passport to influencing virtually all aspects of an organization, from its core identity and purpose to the ways it creates value for stakeholders and the world.

In many cases, CCOs own corporate brand (as many as three in four now, compared to six in 10 back in 2020), a sign that business leaders recognize brands define the experience that every stakeholder has through every touchpoint. Brand is a crucial expression of corporate character, which Page has long said is at the heart of our work. We also observe that CCOs increasingly own marketing, public affairs, sustainability and, in some cases human resources.

Organizations recognize how interconnected the stakeholder landscape is, and see value in having a single source of leadership in managing those relationships. CCOs are now key strategic partners, shaping corporate vision and policies in response to complex challenges. The pandemic was an accelerant of all sorts of change, much of it immediate but some that continues today, like the challenges of geopolitics and the advent of AI. CCOs’ ability to help their organizations both adopt and adapt to a rapidly advancing technology and manage its risks will continue to challenge even the most nimble leaders and teams.

CCOs are becoming vital strategic contributors to corporate resilience and innovation. It is a journey that is taking our opportunities to lead beyond communication, though it remains as true as ever that effective two-way communication and relationship-building are foundational elements of achieving multi-stakeholder value.

To gain deeper insights into this transformation and to learn how CCOs can elevate their roles in the modern business landscape, sign up here to receive a copy when Beyond Communication is released next week.

Special thanks go to FleishmanHillard, in particular Rachel Catanach and Catherine Reynolds, who partnered with Page on the research, writing and design of the final report.