CEOs: Communications Strategy Changing in 24/7 Digital World

An association of public relations and communications professionals surveyed CEOs to determine how chief execs believe the role of organizational communications is changing in an age of nonstop news and information.

As information travels faster and people become more digitally connected, the CEO mindset toward the role of communications is evolving as well.

According to a new survey [PDF] of Fortune 50 CEOs, communication is no longer primarily a defensive strategy, social media is no longer just emerging but is now a fully realized series of communication channels, and transparently communicating an organization’s values is increasingly important to its reputation.

They want greater transparency, not more spin.

These were just some of the findings of “The CEO View: The Impact of Communications on Corporate Character in a 24×7 Digital World,” a follow-up to a 2007 survey conducted by the Arthur W. Page Society, a professional association for senior public relations and corporate communications executives.

Proactive and Fast

One of the ways strategic communications has changed over the last six years, according to the responding CEOs, is the opportunity for proactive engagement. Rather than using communications tools to defend against bad publicity, they are now seen as vehicles through which to build relationships.

To help with that effort, respondents reported they are placing a greater value on social media, which allows for more interactivity between organizations and their constituents.

Respondents also reported that with the proliferation of social media, communications-related problems and issues can arise around the clock, requiring  public relations professionals to monitor these channels and be prepared to respond quickly at all times.

Opening Up

One component of strategic communications that CEOs believe  has not changed in the last six years is the value of reputation. But compared to 2007, people have greater access to information and are more privy to the organizational culture behind products and services.

The surveyed CEOS were aware of this trend and reported an increased sense of optimism around their reputations as well as a willingness to openly communicate their values.

“CEOs believe that, most of the time, the decisions and actions of their people genuinely reflect the organization’s values—and they are looking for increased openness and honesty in the organization’s communications so that the world can see those people and those values,” Jon C. Iwata, Arthur W. Page Society chairman, stated in the report. “They want greater transparency, not more spin.”


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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