With 500+ members at the top of their game in Communications, I'm always amazed by the potential, and the opportunity, that the Arthur W. Page Society offers to strengthen and shape the future of our profession.
The function of Communications and the role of the Chief Communications Officer are changing fast. CCOs need to be equipped with a new set of skills and capabilities compared to even five or ten years ago. CCOs now need expertise across activities like data analytics and metrics, content publishing, social media strategy and implementation, driving an enterprise's ethical orientation, behavioral science, managing corporate character, systems design and instilling closer relationships with the c-suite.
The Page Society has rightly challenged itself both to define and equip the CCO of today, but also to anticipate the changing role and ultimately prepare the CCO of the future. Any definition we develop of course needs to reflect that the role of a CCO can vary from one enterprise to the next. Also, with the CCO's role ever-adapting to new enterprise realities, we need to be watchful that any definition we articulate today doesn't expire tomorrow, so we will be considering the parameters for any such definition to evolve with the role.
One of our members recently said that the role of the CCO has never been more important yet simultaneously less understood. This presents two challenges: one, as mentioned, is preparing and equipping CCOs for the additional skills and capabilities they need to successfully manage the evolving demands and responsibilities of communications. The other is helping them build a shared understanding, recognition and respect within their enterprise for the function, their role and the value of effective communications.
An example discussed at the Page Chairman's Council meeting last month was that there is rarely a complete understanding of contextual vulnerabilities across an enterprise. The CFO may be closely connected to the intricacies of Sarbanes Oxley, Legal with compliance, HR with healthcare plans or compensation, but CCOs increasingly need to have a broad view of all of this to effectively engage stakeholders. We surely cannot be experts on all of these topics, in addition to our “day jobs," but we need to ensure that we can offer informed counsel and direction on navigating, reacting to and molding stakeholders' perceptions, wherever those stakeholders sit. The Page Society is now working on an 'Enterprise Engagement System' to operationalize the CCO's responsibility to build corporate character and earn authentic advocacy, amongst all customers, internal and external, in line with the New Model.
There is a lot to achieve here, and perhaps defining, shaping and preparing CCOs of the future may be a challenge that can never reach a tidy conclusion, but I am encouraged and excited by the expertise and talent we have among our membership. The future of the CCO is a theme that will take a front seat at Page events, programming and training in 2014-15. I'm looking forward to your participation and to sharing progress.
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