73% of Global CCOs Increasingly Hiring Digital Experts, According to Annual Spencer Stuart and Weber Shandwick Study 

NEW YORK, June 24, 2014 Global chief communications officers (CCOs) are increasingly adding digital and social media into their department oversight and responsibilities.

73% of Global CCOs Increasingly Hiring Digital Experts, According to Annual Spencer Stuart and Weber Shandwick Study

CCOs report that compared to years past, they are hiring more digital and social media experts (73 percent) and developing more relationships with influential Twitter users and bloggers (55 percent). These findings come from The Rising CCO V, a survey conducted by global executive search firm Spencer Stuart and global public relations firm Weber Shandwick. Now in its fifth year, The Rising CCO explores how CCOs expect their responsibilities to evolve over time in an increasingly digitalized and media-fragmented world.


Social media continues to be a top agenda item


Social media is expected to have the single greatest impact on the CCO’s job over the next few years. An overwhelming 91 percent of CCOs expect social media to increase in importance more than other communications responsibilities. This finding is consistent across every region in the study, which includes North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America. Globally, CCOs expect mobile (73 percent) and video production (69 percent) to also increase the most in importance.

Corporate communications is in a constant state of evolution as the growth of social communications continues to change the landscape. In some cases, corporate teams are driving change, others are striving to keep up.  Our research shows that CCOs are working hard to equip themselves with the right tools and people to help them effectively navigate this world of change and stay socially-fluent.

George Jamison

Leads Spencer Stuart’s Corporate Communications business.

CCOs anticipate great change ahead


The vast majority of CCOs (86 percent) agree that the changes in the media environment in the past few years have had a significant impact on communications strategies, and they expect the landscape to continue to evolve. More than one-quarter of global CCOs (28 percent) expect the media environment to change extensively over the next few years. Another 51 percent are moderately bullish about change to come. When asked to describe in their own words why they think the media environment will change, CCOs most frequently cited technological advancements, social media and developing media platforms.


One way the changing media environment is likely to impact corporate communications is through content publishing. Ninety percent of CCOs have content publishing on their agendas. Fifty eight percent of CCOs report that they create and publish their own content, 18 percent report that they are in the process of preparing to become an original content publisher, and 14 percent say they are considering becoming an original content publisher as a future initiative.

Marketing and communications grow closer


CCOs have greater responsibility for marketing today compared to several years ago. The rate of global CCOs who have oversight for marketing increased from 26 percent in 2012 to 35 percent in 2014, a 35 percent increase.


“Greater marketing and communications convergence is likely driven by the increasing indivisibility of corporate and brand reputation that’s fast taking hold among leading global Fortune 500 companies,” said Leslie Gaines-Ross, Chief Reputation Strategist for Weber Shandwick. “In a splintered media environment, having one clear enterprise voice is now mission critical.”  Eighty four percent of global CCOs agree that corporate reputation and brand reputation are indivisible today. Likely closely associated with this relationship is a rise in reported prominence of public relations as a marketing mix component. Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of CCOs agree that public relations has risen in status in the marketing mix over the past few years.


CCOs see effectiveness in media integration


Global chief communications officers (CCOs) report that their external communications focus more on traditional media (64 percent) than social media (36 percent). CCOs use traditional and social media for different purposes and see effectiveness in integrating both for some communications activities, including crisis resolution, and not for others. Nearly two-thirds of CCOs (63 percent) find traditional and social media to be equally effective for resolving a crisis or issue.


At least half of global CCOs report that traditional and social media are equally effective for retaining customers (58 percent), attracting new customers (54 percent) and creating awareness of a new product or service (50 percent). Traditional media is viewed as more effective for announcing financial performance (76 percent) and promoting the visibility of senior executives (54 percent), while social media is more effective for attracting talent (56 percent).

Regional findings:


  • North American and Asia Pacific (APAC) CCOs are most likely to agree that the field of corporate communications has successfully kept pace with the changes in the media environment.
  • CCOs in all four regions represented in the study expect social media to increase the most in importance as a communications tool over the next few years. However, APAC CCOs are more likely than others to report that the company website will increase the most in importance. Latin American (LatAm) CCOs also expect digital community management and video production to increase in importance.
  • European and LatAm CCOs are most likely to oversee marketing in addition to communications.
  • North American CCOs are the most likely to be currently creating and publishing their own content. APAC CCOs are most likely to be in the process of preparing to become original content publishers.


Click here to view the report and infographic.

About the Survey


The Rising CCO, now in its fifth year, examined the expectations, challenges and changing responsibilities of CCOs in the world’s largest companies. The 203 survey respondents came from companies based in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America. The survey was conducted online from January to March 2014.


About Spencer Stuart


Spencer Stuart is one of the world’s leading executive search consulting firms. Privately held since 1956, Spencer Stuart applies its extensive knowledge of industries, functions and talent to advise select clients — ranging from major multinationals to emerging companies to nonprofit organizations — and address their leadership requirements. Through 55 offices in 30 countries and a broad range of practice groups, Spencer Stuart consultants focus on senior-level executive search, board director appointments, succession planning and in-depth senior executive management assessments. For more information on Spencer Stuart, please visit www.spencerstuart.com.


About Weber Shandwick


Weber Shandwick is a leading global public relations firm with offices in 81 countries. The firm’s diverse team of thinkers, strategists, analysts, producers, designers, developers and campaign activators has won the most prestigious awards in the world for innovative, creative approaches and impactful work, including being honored as a 2014 Ad Age A-List Agency and winning four 2013 Cannes Lions. Weber Shandwick was also named PRWeek’s International Consultancy of the Year and The Holmes Report’s Best Healthcare Consultancy in the World in 2013, in addition to earning numerous best place to work accolades. The firm deploys deep expertise across sectors and specialty areas, including consumer marketing, corporate reputation, healthcare, technology, public affairs, financial services, corporate social responsibility, financial communications and crisis management, using proprietary social, digital and analytics methodologies. Weber Shandwick is part of the Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG). For more information, visit https://www.webershandwick.com/.