The Suite Spot: Unpacking CEO perceptions of comms leadership

Findings of the 2023 HarrisX/Ragan Survey of Communications Leaders reveal how much CEOs trust communications leaders and vice versa.

Ragan Communications partnered with research consultancy HarrisX to understand how CEOs and communications leaders view each other’s roles and responsibilities, what they value most, and how they feel about the growing influence of AI.

The survey was conducted by Ragan and HarrisX from August 11 – September 11 and surveyed 370 CEOs and high-ranking communications professionals.

This year’s results show that communications leaders trust CEOs overall to make sound decisions across communications functions, especially around matters pertaining to external communications and DE&I. Though that trust has waned slightly over the past year, it’s still very strong.

The trust cuts both ways, too—CCOs are trusted for their external and internal expertise, nearly 20% points higher on internal and employee communications than CEOs are trusted by CCOs. This tells us that there’s a lot of common ground for comms leaders to work with the C-Suite and reach a consensus on how to respond in an environment that is ever-evolving.

There’s a disconnect when it comes to who thinks they lead comms, however: 78% of CEOs report overseeing extern communications, while most comms leaders say this responsibility rests with CCOs. The division is wider when looking at internal and employee comms:

This disconnect reflects how divisive issues can make CEOs feel forced to take positions with an understanding that the “right” or “wrong” message can have a huge impact on corporate reputation.

Download the full study results here. 

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