NEW YORK: Global communications chiefs prefer traditional media over social media by a wide margin for external communications, according to a study released by Weber Shandwick on Tuesday.
Globally, 64% of CCOs use traditional tactics, while 36% use social media for external comms, according to the fifth-annual The Rising CCO study from Weber and global executive search firm Spencer Stuart [infographic attached].
The firms conducted the research online from January to March, surveying 203 respondents from companies based in North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America.
The study found that CCOs use traditional and social media for different purposes. They believe integrating both methods is effective for some communications activities, according to the report.
"Global CCOs are quite selective about when to use traditional media and when to use social media," said Leslie Gaines-Ross, chief reputation strategist at Weber. "They realize it has different ROI, depending on which channel they use."
For instance, 63% of those surveyed find traditional and social media to be equally effective for resolving a crisis or issue, while 58% of global CCOs agreed both methods were equally beneficial for retaining customers. More than half (54%) said the same about attracting new customers, and 50% had the same belief about creating awareness of a new product or service.
Meanwhile, 76% of global CCOs said traditional media is better for disclosing financial performance, while 54% said the same about announcements of senior promotions.
Social media was rated more highly by 56% of CCOs as the more effective route for attracting talent.
The survey also found that social media is expected to have the single greatest impact on a CCO’s job in coming years. Across all regions, 91% of comms leaders expect social media to increase in importance more than other communications responsibilities, followed by mobile (73%) and video production (69%). Further, 90% of communications chiefs have content publishing on their agendas.
George Jamison, who leads Spencer Stuart’s corporate communications and IR business, said the results show how PR pros have adapted to the strengths and limitations of new technologies.
"Traditional mainstream business media is still the most influential media in play today," he explained. "But what I think is happening – and I think we are going to see more of this – is a segmentation of strategies in terms of when you use social media, traditional media, and when you use both."
The survey also found that between 2012 and 2014, the rate of global CCOs with oversight of marketing increased from 26% to 35%.
Gaines-Ross explained that the integration of marketing and communications is likely being driven by the "indivisibility of corporate and brand reputation."