Crisis issues affecting a company’s reputation come at a high cost to businesses, eating the time of CEOs and taking about 15 months to get past the problem.
Increased media and government scrutiny and reduced employee morale often accompany reputation damaging events.
And in today’s world of messages going viral via social media, even a small problem can grow into a major one overnight.
So it’s no surprise that nearly two-thirds of global chief communications officers (CCOs) say that crisis management experience is today’s prerequisite for success.
These findings come from the annual survey, The Rising CCO IV, conducted by global executive search firm Spencer Stuart and global public relations firm Weber Shandwick, and are nearly twice what they were since the annual survey started in 2007.
More than 70 percent of global chief communications officers report that their companies experienced a threat to their reputations in the past two years, so they say improving corporate reputation is their highest priority.
“The global business events of the past few years have demonstrated in stark clarity the cost of damage to a corporate reputation,” said George Jamison, who leads Spencer Stuart’s Corporate Communications business. “As a result, experience in crisis management is essentially a mandatory requirement for CCOs today. As our 2012 research shows, crises take time to fade and CEOs are right in wanting the best talent with them in the bunker when they find themselves in the media and political spotlight.”
Social Media Helps Crisis Resolution
Forty percent of global CCOs say they are prepared to manage a social media threat to their reputation today compared to 33 percent in 2010 and social media is the fastest-growing communications tool for CCOs in all regions.
However, social media is not the root of all crises today that CCOs must deal with. Nearly one-half of CCOs (46 percent) whose companies suffered a crisis in the past two years said that social media did not play a role in the crisis, and only seven percent said the crisis began in social media.
However, when social media was involved in a crisis-making event, CCOs said it was more likely to help resolve the crisis than make it worse (34 percent vs. 22 percent, respectively).
“In 2012′s Rising CCO survey, social media is expected to grow dramatically and have a tremendous impact on corporate communications department budgets,” said Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross.
“It is encouraging to see that global CCOs are embracing social media’s ability to temper a crisis and consequently diminish additional reputation loss.”
Nearly eight in 10 global CCOs (76 percent) believe that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is critical to safeguarding reputation. For this reason, approximately one-half (52 percent) of global CCOs say the need for a dedicated CSR communications professional is growing and nearly four in 10 (38 percent) have either hired individuals with CSR communications expertise during the past year or plan to hire such individuals over the course of the next year.
How are CCOs judged?
How are CCOs judged? The leading metrics for gauging CCOs and their communications effectiveness are positive media coverage (80 percent) and employee satisfaction/engagement (79 percent). Notably, employee satisfaction has risen dramatically in importance since 2007 (from 61 percent in 2007 to 79 percent in 2012).
- North American CCOs feel they are the most prepared to deal with a social media threat to their companies’ reputations.
- Each region is dealing with a different top expectation from senior management. In North America, CCOs are expected to be on top of social media, in Europe it is corporate reputation and in APAC it is media coverage sentiment or favorability.
- All three regions rank media coverage favorability and employee engagement as top criteria for evaluating communications effectiveness. However, North Americans also weigh in the CEO’s opinion, European CCOs regard quantitative awareness and attitudinal data highly important and APAC CCOs take into consideration awards and recognition.
- North American CCOs do not seem to be ramping up their departments for communicating their corporate responsibility initiatives to the same extent as European or APAC CCOs.
- Most business leaders believe internal culture drives corporate reputation
- CMOs and CCOs battle over who owns social, but can learn from each other
- Social media reputation a blind spot for too many top executives
- Company reputations affected by the CEO’s
- CEOs growing increasingly social online, study says
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