Page Spring Seminar Tackles Era of Pervasive Change

- Vikram Sharma

Page Spring Seminar Tackles Era of Pervasive Change

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking at the 2021 Page Spring Seminar, the Page Society's largest annual event, which addressed topical and timely issues of critical importance to Chief Communications Officers and other senior communicators.

The roundtable, titled: New World. New Risks. The Need to Bring Risk Intelligence into Crisis Management, was a solutions-focused discussion on the ways in which today’s communications leaders are stepping up as risk mitigators and resilience builders, and the agile practices they’re adopting to keep brands safe from harm.

The session, which was moderated by Paul M. Rand, Vice President of Communications at the University of Chicago and Crisp advisor, included CEO and Founder of GEC Risk Advisory Dr. Andrea Bonime-Blanc, who also is a Crisp advisor, as well as Chief Communications Officer Katie Ioanilli from the Ralph Lauren Company.

Page spring seminar 2021

A constant state of risk mitigation

The sentiment throughout the seminar, which was titled, Redefining Normal: Resilience in an Era of Pervasive Change, further cemented what we understand to be our new normal where the only constant is rapid, multi-faceted change. As Bonime-Blanc put it, “communications leaders are operating in a perpetual crisis mode,” with no sign of the pace slowing down.

Headlines impacting communications leadersRegardless of whether or not your organization found itself wrestling with these sensitive issues, one thing is certain: The culmination of these events has completely transformed the corporate risk landscape.

While CCOs have often served as the first line of defense in managing a crisis, now they also play a critical role in identifying and mitigating risks at a time when informed communication is critical to effectively steer an organization’s brand purpose through uncertainty. And it’s the CCO who senior leaders are turning to for actionable intelligence and strategic guidance.

Risks have been accelerated by digital chatter

The volume, velocity and variety of digital chatter, otherwise known as commentary on platforms such as open and closed social media channels or forums, messaging apps or alt tech platforms, has achieved enormous scale.

In fact, at any given minute of any given day 347,222 posts are shared on Instagram, 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube and 41,666,667 messages are shared on WhatsApp. That’s because there are 4.14 billion people using social media, which is more than half the world’s population. The average user regularly taps 8.8 social platforms every day.

With this kind of growth, it’s inevitable that a percentage of the users behind the collective creation of digital chatter have intent to harm brands, entire industries, or worse. With false and harmful content, deep image and video fakes, it’s easy to see how this amplification can go very wrong among bad actors looking not only to spread disinformation, but to outright discredit organizations, incite violence, or manipulate stock prices.

As more of these platforms come online, so do new, unknown risks and opportunities for agenda-driven groups to coordinate and exploit them. While social listening can monitor known keywords related to existing issues, they’re not built to keep up with this new world of new risks.

Gaining an early-warning risk advantage

Company 10Ks show that they recognize the risk and the World Economic Forum 2021 Risk Report says, “static annual documents need to make room for continuous horizon-scanning.” The good news is that executive leaders and corporate boards are working closely with communications leaders to create greater agility and organizational resilience. Static or stale risk registers have been replaced by frameworks and cross-functional task forces in which communications leaders are now playing a vital role.

Risk-savvy CCOs and their teams know that the earlier they identify these risks, the better prepared they are to anticipate what’s around the corner and act upon it - or in certain cases assess that no action is needed at all.

Digital chatter is also an opportunity as more communicators are getting wise to its role as a vital source of risk intelligence. Because if you can mine the chatter early, you can “be like Gretzky” and see where the risk “puck” is going. You can find a story brewing about your CEO or brand in a fringe forum and prevent or mitigate the damage; that is an early-warning risk advantage.

early-warning-risk-advantage-page-society

This chart shows how communications leaders who access an early-warning risk advantage can prevent a brand crisis.

What we hear from our customers is that this proactive approach is now essential. In a fast-changing world with high-impact threats communications teams must be first to know. An early-warning risk advantage is not a nice-to-have, it is a must-have.

Yes, this is the era of pervasive change, but I also believe this is the decade of the CCO, and with investment in the best-fit solutions to achieve their mandate, companies can achieve a new level of resiliency and deliver on their brand promise in any environment.

Contact Crisp to learn more about how organizations can leverage digital chatter to gain an early-warning risk advantage.

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