The new Page research report, out today, shows that chief communication officers have come a long way since our last report, but there are challenges and opportunities that require continued focus and commitment.

In 2019, Page reported that CEOs were looking for help in transforming their organizations in the face of a tidal wave of disruption. We concluded that CCOs had a huge opportunity to put themselves at the center of the strategic conversation in their enterprises. And we warned that if they didn’t step up, CEOs would turn elsewhere for the help they needed.

Five years later, our newest report finds that all the trends we saw then have accelerated faster than we could have imagined. But the good news is, CCOs have indeed stepped up. More of them than ever before are at the center of the strategic decision-making process in their enterprises. And many are taking on expanded responsibilities over major functions, including sustainability, public affairs, people and culture, and more.

At the same time, however, many of them are stretched thin and looking for help. They need more resources and better skills in themselves and their teams to take on the expanding remit in the face of complexity, uncertainty and polarization.

Our report, Beyond Communication: CCO Leadership in Navigating Complexity, advises CCOs to take the following steps:

  1. Advocate passionately for the multistakeholder view and ensure that the enterprise understands and responds to rapidly evolving stakeholder needs.
    It is our ability to understand and bring in strategic insights from the complex multistakeholder environment that puts us at the center of the action. But many business leaders are seeing the pain and conflict of dealing with the complex needs and demands of stakeholders as a reason to pull back. That would be a mistake.

    We note that companies that successfully take on the challenges of building long-term value for multiple stakeholders outperform those that do not. And we see a huge opportunity for CCOs to help their companies to build trust and reputation by embracing the challenges and delivering real results.
  2. Continue to increase your capacity to be a strategic advisor and partner in transforming the enterprise.
    From our founding 40 years ago, Page has seen the CCO as a strategic, policymaking advisor to the business, and our members are proving their ability as business leaders. This requires the ability to translate strategic insights into action.

    CCOs are helping their enterprises to redefine their purpose, business model and strategy by working across the C-Suite and advising the CEO and the board of directors as partners who understand how to change policies, incentives and operations.
  3. Upgrade the capabilities of the communication function as a leading-edge business partner and transformation leader.
    In order to be truly successful in all of this, CCOs must continue to develop new functional capabilities for themselves and their teams, using AI and other innovations to improve their ability to deliver true value in the face of rapidly changing challenges.

    They must be more committed than ever to focusing on the highest value strategic responsibilities and letting lesser nice-to-haves fall by the wayside.

Page intends to continue to be the place where our members come together to share, to learn and to fulfill our purpose, which is to create community among the world’s senior communication leaders to help them improve business and society. It’s a challenge we embrace with passion and commitment.