Where Are We? Where Should We Be?

Research

29730631 - group of multi ethnic business people having a meetingDeluged by a tsunami of prescriptive advice about where the communication profession is heading, we set out to ask those working in the profession what they think and how they’re doing.

Our survey of over 100 communication professionals reviews the recommendations of The Authentic Enterprise, a 2007 Arthur W. Page Society report that surveyed chief executive officers on the evolving role of the chief communication officer. The survey found that communication professionals strongly agree that the communication function should be in the C-suite and play a leadership role on values, relationships, “new media” and trust now and in the future. But, they don’t agree on how the communication function should assume this role.

In addition, our survey reveals a discrepancy between what communication professionals say they aspire to and what they’re actually doing, both in terms of leadership and in their professional development.

As a result, we feel there’s an important opportunity for further discussion and exploration within the profession to discover what practical approaches communication professionals need to:

  • Demonstrate to their leaders and themselves that communications is not a function; it is a core strategic competence.
  • Make the transition from the past to the future.
  • Ensure they are in a strong position to fulfill their aspirations for themselves, their function and their organizations.

The Authentic Enterprise is based on “original research among CEOs, [their] …experience and a broad range of studies and perspectives” and it provides an important CEO-view of the opportunities and challenges facing senior communication executives. Surprisingly, in the five years since its publication, no one has tested the report’s recommendations with the views of communication professionals. We believed it was time to take a closer look to understand the implications for our profession now and in the future. In particular, we wanted to see if communication professionals agreed with the conclusions and recommendations of the study and how they supported their views, and if they had any thoughts about the implications of the study on the future of professional communication.

Our hope is our findings will generate practical insights and lead to a constructive discussion within the profession about where communication professionals are and where they should be going.

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