What does the future hold for the CCO?
The CCO of the future is authentic and honest, learns fast and acts with agility, adapting to any change that occurs. This was the profile agreed on by participants in the EACD regional event in Sofia on October 24. The communication director also listens attentively and uses different new channels.
In the event, organised by the Bulgarian Regional Group of EACD and supported by Sopharma AD, the role of the professional communicator within his or her organisation was discussed by a panel featuring: Viktoria Blazheva, vice-president and director of communications at UniCredit Bulbank; Petya Stoyanova, director of marketing communications at A1; Svetlozar Petrov, chief executive officer at recruitment agency JobTiger and Ognian Zlatev, lead at the Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria.
Moderated by Velislava Popova, editor-in-chief of Dnevnik, the lively discussion ensured 360-degree-profiling of the future communication directors meeting the cross-point-views of CCOs, their peers and the direct supervisor of this role within the organisation.
The increasing importance of public acceptance and dialogue, the fragmentation of the media and the growth of digitalisation all shape the flexible environment of today’s communicators. However, according to Viktoria Blazheva, the most important responsibilities of the communications leader is to monitor the new media, where our audiences are and how we connect to them. Of course, everything and anything can be media these days, but, as Velislava stated, not everything is journalism.
Discussing the expanding responsibilities and scope of activities of the function, Petya Stoyanova questioned the wisdom of focussing of so many important functions in just one position, especially considering the responsibility of each employee to communicate and contribute to the brand value, as well as the vital role of dialogue management at all brand touchpoints.
The HR perspective provided by Svetlozar Petrov balanced the discussion, stating that the communicator has a leading role as a mediator and pointed out that the two professional areas - HR and communications - are usually seen as non-core-business investments even though they provide a significant contribution to business results.
Combining the expertise of an organisation’s leader and the communication background, Ognian Zlatev shared insights into the development of the role and the diversity of expectations toward the CCO. Not only the communication director should take care of the harmonised public image and of the dialogue with all stakeholders but (s)he must be prepared to come across unexpected viewpoints and must analyse ongoing complex situations in a high-speed/high-quality manner.
The hot topic of measurement of communication outcomes brought some nice examples and shared experience - like finding a way to provoke a dialogue with fragmented and diverse external and internal audiences. The active discussion widened up including high-value contributions from the C-level professionals in the audience.
Yassen Guev, experienced communication leader and author and Iliana Zaharieva, director of corporate communication at A1, added their own practical examples - with the lesson learned that the CCO of the future should know the persona behind the data and actively cooperate with third-party influencers, on projects that inform, inspire and improve.
Finally, yet importantly, we all took away with us the positive news of having a secure future as C-level communications professionals since the job is among the least threatened from robots and AI expansion, according to the Financial Times. See our infographic summing up the key takeaways here.