Corporate communications have been transformed by concurrent revolutions: digital technology and the internet, globalization, the 24/7 news cycle, and social media. On top of these forces, the environment in which corporations operate continues to evolve, driven by emerging technologies disrupting markets, new revenue models for media companies, new modes of work, and changes in demographic, sociopolitical and regulatory conditions.
Corporations have never seen such a complex operating environment. Skilled communicators are needed to lead organizations and to communicate effectively with diverse consumers through many channels. Programs like the Southeastern Oklahoma State University Master of Business Administration – Strategic Communication Online are meeting this challenge.
Aspiring CCOs and Executives Concerned With Reputation Management
Just two decades ago, communication skills in the C-Suite were nice to have, but not imperative. Today, executives at every level cannot be effective without a primary concern for what people are saying about their organizations. The proliferation of chief communications officers (CCO) in government and for-profit and nonprofit organizations is a testament to the need for advanced training in strategic communication and reputation management.
The CCO position is exclusively responsible for strategic decision-making in channels of communication for consumer groups, balancing privacy concerns against personalized marketing and communications, cybersecurity, and public relations/media management. Mistakes in these areas can prove catastrophic for an organization’s reputation and business. Relying on previous experience at a single employer or within a single industry is no substitute for expertise in universal best practices.
Journalists and PR Professionals Transitioning to Corporate Communications
Cybersecurity breaches at Target, Apple, Home Depot and other corporations have signaled the need for more effective reputation management following such incidents. Every corporation knows it is not a matter of if, but when similar scandals will happen.
According to a white paper recently published by the Arthur W. Page Society, today’s business leaders and communicators are not fully trained in the art of corporate communications, and their organizations are ill prepared to deal effectively with potential PR disasters.
Disasters are the tip of the PR iceberg; people with strong writing and communications skills, honed by undergraduate journalism programs and post-graduate specialized business school programs, will perform the more routine functions. Today’s PR professionals must understand the best ways of getting news about product and service offerings to their customers. They must be knowledgeable about the available channels and be able to develop relationships with industry leaders and influencers. They must know how to produce and deliver thought leadership content and how to leverage it for media attention to spread their messages further. With so much on their plates, it is no wonder a majority of PR executives said, by 2020, their jobs will become even more complex, strategic, challenging, and important.
Social Media and Content Managers
According to the University of Southern California’s Global Communication Report 2016, PR industry leaders believe that the following factors will drive growth in strategic communications:
- Content — 81 percent.
- Social Media — 75 percent.
- Brand Reputation — 70 percent.
This means that the traditional channels and means of conducting public relations are changing. Rather than delegating reputation management to in-house PR professionals or PR agencies, organizations are taking greater control. They are developing the reputations of internal thought leaders through proprietary content and delivering it through a variety of communication channels, from mobile applications to social media platforms. Throughout customer life cycles, marketers are using content to generate leads and convert prospects into customers. Social media managers must be able to maximize engagement with prospects and customers by disseminating it in creative ways through the right platforms.
Best practices in leveraging, distributing and amplifying content are evolving at a fast pace. Corporations must ensure the social media and content experts they hire have expertise that extends far beyond what worked for their previous employers. Through specialized MBA programs, business schools are partnering with corporations to meet the demand for these skills.
Given that the pace of change driving the need for strategic communications is quickening, we should expect demand for these skills to continue to accelerate as well.
Learn more about the SOSU online MBA with an emphasis in strategic communication program.