The chief communications officer is a PR professional working for the PR department / press office of a larger organization, or for a PR firm. Their role is to handle many forms of communication, which is instrumental in helping a company to present the image it wants. The role of the CCO is to handle communications with all interested parties. This will typically mean chiefly the press and journalists as part of a PR campaign. However, it can also include communication within the organization, as well as communication with stakeholders.
Communication is Key
Communication is incredibly important for any brand. This is how a brand can control how it is seen by the general public, thereby ensuring that not only are people talking about it but also that they are saying the right thing. This is how communications and PR overlap, as the way you communicate regarding PR crises, releases and more will all help you to craft the public opinion as it relates to your company.
At the same time though, communication also plays a role in many other aspects of a business. For instance, it is important for discussing internal matters – in particular for change management. The way that a company handles a transition, whether it is an acquisition, a rebrand or a change in direction, can greatly impact on the way that this is perceived by staff. In order to reduce resistance and ensure that all change is seen positively, a company must communicate that plan and that process correctly.
Communication also plays a role in project management. Outlining a project correctly and making sure that everyone knows their role and what the end goal is can greatly help to ensure the best possible outcome. This may or may not be considered a role for the CCO.
Then there is communication with stakeholders. A company has a responsibility to keep all those with a financial interest informed as to its performance and plans. This means updating regarding profits and turnover for the year and it means updating regarding plans for the business going forward or changes that are going to be made. This way the investors can decide how to proceed.
There are many different strategies and roles that are involved in communications of this kind. For instance:
- Press releases can be used to release information to the press and to try and get coverage
- Interviews can be granted to put forward one side of the story
- Internal emails can be circulated to update the team
- Letters can be sent to stakeholders
- Monthly updates can be provided for stakeholders
- A company blog can be used to communicate internally or externally
- Conferences can be called in order to break news
- Meetings can also be called to break news and discuss directions
In many cases, the role of the chief communications officer will have significant overlap with marketing departments and with other departments. In many cases, a strategy will be as much a marketing approach as it will be a matter for communications. Likewise, an inability to properly manage internal communication can end up becoming a matter that affects stakeholders and PR.
In all situations though, the ability to communicate clearly and concisely is highly important for a company to put its best foot forward to, to craft its image and to be better understood. The job of the CCO is a crucial one.