Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the changing skills and capabilities required in the corporate communications organization. There is emerging evidence to suggest this transformation is not only happening but is accelerating and with positions few could have anticipated a few years back.
If you haven’t recently done a top-to-bottom assessment of what your "new" organization should look like, it may well be time.
Let’s start with the Page Society’s research that resulted in the new job descriptions listed below. I encourage you to read the full "New CCO" white paper to learn more and appreciate the range of sources that contributed to the below insights. And after the Page Society examples, I’ll share with you specific examples of new positions at IBM, Chevron, and Starbucks.
This is a job that focuses on the interplay between storytelling and platforms, be they social media, web, or video. They understand what is compelling, persuasive, and informative for their audience and both how to write and tell the right stories and distribute them.
Acts as bridge to better organize cross-disciplinary efforts such as media, communications, government relations, etc., around key issues or opportunity areas for the company. They act as "campaign chiefs" and ensure an integrated approach, which is necessary in a cluttered communications environment.
Offers analytics-based decision-making, not just data sharing. Responsible for reviewing and presenting metrics to recommend action based on strategic priorities
Director of future partnerships
Specializes in building the right senior-level partnerships with relevant global and local organizations to ensure inclusive and holistic models for growth. Understands the strategic view of the corporate journey and has the ability to both influence direction internally and defend strategic direction externally.
Focuses on broad and direct impact of strategic initiatives on people, processes, technology, and culture. Offers impact analysis and operational guidance to successfully implement necessary changes to the business.
Behavioral scientist/engagement analyst
Drawing from a background in behavioral science, this person analyzes communication and digital design and develops models to drive the most effective communication and engagement from target audiences.
Now, let’s get beyond the "macro" and look at company-specific examples of newly created positions.
Jon Iwata, IBM’s head of marketing and communications, shared with me these new roles and descriptions at his company:
Agile content coach
The agile content coach guides a team of writers, researchers, and strategic thinkers in creating thought leadership content using a lightweight agile framework. The coach establishes the process of content creation informed by agile method, guides the team through facilitation, enables the teams to work effectively, and capitalizes on opportunities to coach greater efficiencies.
Digital comms analysts
With modern tools and methods, including IBM's Watson, these professionals are monitoring and analyzing social media, broadcast media, print and online publications, as well as other sources of internal and external content to identify relevant issues, threats, and opportunities impacting IBM, its business, and brand. These professionals take action to either mitigate negative stories or to scale positive stories through IBM's social networks. Additionally, the digital comms analysts review and manipulate large data sets and distill them into both tactical and strategic insights and reports to inform practitioners, business leaders, and other stakeholders.
Employee cohort engagement expert
The employee cohort engagement expert is responsible for defining, deeply understanding, and engaging a cohort of employees. The expert defines his or her cohort based on data, including role, employee type, and observable behavior, and engages them through the content and channels that influence them most to believe, act, and advocate for the company.
Dave Samson, Chevron’s head of public affairs and Page Society chairman, shared these four roles that did not exist three years ago. "They’re all driven by the influence and rapid evolution of data and technology, growing stakeholder empowerment and activism, and generational shifts that are changing our confirmation consumption patterns and, by extension, our engagement models," he said.
Manager of digital content
This person serves as the content hub for Chevron, overseeing strategy and execution for the creation, curation, and distribution of content over Chevron’s internal and external channels and platforms.
Manager of insights and analytics
Oversees all research and data analytics in support of stakeholder-engagement activities. Works with technology partners to develop platforms to capture multiple data streams and to draw actionable insights and intelligence from that data. Works with internal team members, such as data analysts, and other subject-matter experts to create new predictive and analytics capabilities to track and understand stakeholder behaviors and better predict and manage risks to the company’s business.
Analyzes public and private data to provide actionable intelligence that will enable Chevron to operate its business; develops data visualizations that depict the analytical story; manages web analysis and reporting for Chevron's corporate websites, internal and external. This person also helps build predictive analytics tools and intelligence to identify business risks and opportunities and support decision-making.
Gathers and analyzes data on key stakeholders and stakeholder groups as a means to more fully understand their motivations and behaviors, and how the company can use that intelligence to better engage or influence these stakeholders.
And, finally let’s take a look at Starbucks. Corey DuBrowa, Starbucks’ head of communications, offered these three positions that didn’t exist just a couple of years ago:
A former senior journalist now leading the newsroom and content engine, including social media properties and the newsroom itself.
Social media strategist, digital news team
The person to whom our community managers on our team report. This model has existed elsewhere in the company in global digital marketing, but is a first for our team, indicating major grayscale between comms and marketing.
Senior manager, videography
This position is responsible for all of our images, still, moving, or otherwise.
Inspired? I hope so. The pace of change in our business is breathtaking and creates enormous opportunity for growth and intellectual stimulation.
Bob Feldman is cofounder and partner of PulsePoint Group, a management and digital consulting firm. He can be reached at email@example.com. His column focuses on management of the corporate communications function.