Ronn TorossianRonn Torossian

The Arthur Page Society recently released a follow-up to its 2016 study regarding the changing role of chief communications officers. Some respondents revealed it might be the end of chief marketing officers. In the study, Page, a professional association of senior corporate communications and PR folks, wrote at length about the transformation of CCOs. Page noted that many industries and companies are transforming roles to adapt to the quickly changing environment. The study said it’s not so much the elimination of certain roles but a question of who can do best for the company.

What’s changed?

Some companies are starting their own platforms. This has resulted in budgets being adjusted and refocused to accommodate the change.

There’s even more collaboration between CCOs and other departments. Some CCOs are becoming engaged in areas such as inclusivity and diversity in addition to working with other on marketing and crisis communications planning.

As a result of the first two changes, some new job positions and roles have been created. This could also mean not the reformation of existing job descriptions but the possible elimination of some positions.

In addition to increasing collaboration internally, there’s also a move to look externally and partner with groups whose missions align with those of the company. For example, if the company manufactures plastic containers, a partnership might be sought with a nonprofit group involved in recycling.

And where much attention had been given to a company’s owners, increased focus is now being given to other publics, including employees as well as customer loyalty and influencers. These fall in line with changes in KPI or key performance indicators.

The evolution of the CCO

Companies that have or are adopting these changes need CCOs who can adapt to them as well. That requires a CCO who not only possesses the skills of a strategic thinker, planner and communicator, but also one who’s able to collaborate and partner with other key players both internally and externally. In addition, the reformed CCO is one who understands digital data and knows how to leverage that in the best way possible and market to the company’s key publics.

Large companies and their CCOs are at a critical junction today. With changes occurring so rapidly, the ability to recognize these changes—and which adjustments must be made—are more critical than ever before to the success of the organization. This is especially the case with technological and cultural changes.

Consider Brooklyn, New York, which has experienced sharp changes in its racial makeup. The white population of one neighborhood rose to 45 percent this year from 28 percent in 2000. Conversely, the percentage of Hispanic residents dropped to 30 percent this year from nearly 40 percent in 2000, while African Americans witnessed a jump to the largest share of 81 percent in one neighborhood.

On the other hand, gentrification was attributed to declines in the African American population in several other Brooklyn neighborhoods. The Asian population remained fairly constant, especially in the Chinatown district.

This is just one of the changes to which the new CCO must be alerted. For a retailer of Hispanic foods, for example, a large shift in demographics can have a serious effect on business if one isn’t aware of the changing landscape.


Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR agency.