The hottest new job in public relations: chief content officerApril 26, 2010
I’m going to make a call. In three to five years, a new member of the C-suite will emerge. He or she will work shoulder to shoulder with CMOs and CEOs. The job description will look nothing like we have ever seen. They will be called chief content officer.
Their purpose will be to originate and share a constant stream of information flowing from inside the four walls of the corporation directly through new digital channels to partners, customers, clients, employees, prospects, and investors. Their skill set will be part journalist, part brand manager, and part public relations professional.
They will be charged with capturing and articulating the character and voice of the company, and they will be responsible for ushering in a new era of corporate transparency — a world where outsiders can gain a true and authentic view of the company. Filters will be fewer. Responses quicker. Information will flow more freely.
If the evolving nature of public relations is teaching us anything, it’s that content is now the single most important asset at our disposal for conditioning and positioning companies for increased revenue and value. As traditional media struggles to find relevancy, more and more corporations will turn to social and digital media to communicate directly with online audiences.
Entire new corporate domains will appear, peopled by writers, editors, videographers, podcasters, and technologists, who will work in unison to identify relevant information from inside the corporation, publish it, and then manage the pathways through which it is distributed.
The chief content officer will stand in the shoes of a traditional publisher, delicately balancing the need for quality content to find and keep audiences against the corporation’s drive to sell and promote. The created content will attain a new level of truth and authenticity.
If a company messes up, the CCO will be charged with the clean up, addressing issues directly online. If a company struggles, that same CCO will be responsible for publishing rapid response investor information to shorten the cycle of pain, not unlike how 24/7 news channels have cut attention spans and focal points.
And if a company wants to engage, the CCO will be tasked with finding and crystallizing information and content that can catalyze clients and customers, aggregating and engaging them through micro-topics that speak directly to narrow-band niches.
Some companies like Ford are already starting to break this ground. Scott Monty, the firm’s Head of Social Media, has direct access to CEO Alan Mulally, and works closely with him and other executives to develop social media programs and content, and share information on social networks.
The CCO job description will read something like this:
If you can write like a journalist, think like a marketer, and understand the vast and shifting seas of digital communications, Mega Global Corporation needs you to express our world view and communicate our value to financial and consumer markets, partners, and governments.
You must be able to manage a worldwide editorial staff, producing both written and visual communications, and must be able to deliver daily, even hourly, content that is fully optimized to gain visibility over digital pathways.
This individual will report directly to the CEO, but will have the strength of character to beat back corporate encroachment in favor of honest, accurate content that provides real value to worldwide audiences.
Most important, this individual must understand how to monetize this content throughout the enterprise, converting incoming interest into business opportunities for the organization as a whole. Compensation: Name your price if you can deliver on the seemingly impossible yet urgent responsibilities described here.
Some CMOs are taking on many of these duties now. But as our communications channels continue to expand into the digital market, companies need to disseminate content to an increasing array of online audiences. It’s becoming a job unto itself. One-way communication is not enough. Companies need to inform, connect, and engage with their customers and partners in meaningful ways, wherever they live.