The Case for Fractional CCOs


As we’ve shared before, in these times of incredible change, uncertainty and disruption, communicating efficiently and with radical clarity is integral to not just success but also basic survival as a company, business or brand. Whether for an established customer favorite, a challenger brand, a disruptive new market entry, or a person looking to pivot or deliver a new message, your communications strategy must be executed efficiently and consistently with compelling messaging for impact.

In the most general sense, the communications function is responsible for long-term reputation management, while the marketing function is responsible for the short-term sales pipeline; they are not the same thing. When marketing works on “top” of a strong reputation, good marketing works more efficiently. When marketing must do the heavy lifting of awareness and conversion without the benefit of a strong reputation, it is dramatically less efficient and more expensive. You can watch more about this here.

Years ago, the Chief Communications Officer role was generally reserved for government or military positions. Not so today. LinkedIn reveals more than 150,000 CCOs in the U.S., and the vast majority of those professionals are in the private sector. More and more companies are realizing they need a communications officer at the table to plan and conduct their businesses well. Where fractional chief marketing officers are plentiful in virtually every market, fractional chief communications officers are not.

The transparency the internet has afforded has elevated the impact of what you say and how you say it. That’s good news, since you can control everything you say and everything you do. Sounds simple, we know, and it is that simple: lead with purpose, do what you say, say what you do, and communicate relentlessly, even when you think everyone can finish your sentences. Simple and hard at the same time, which requires discipline and consistency—that thing called work.

Double Forte’s business has shifted a bit to accommodate this evolution. Just in the last three years, we’ve deployed our senior staff to 13 different temporary, part-time chief communications officer’s roles with clients in key transitional phases in three main situations:

  • CCO at Key Inflection Points: Every business faces critical inflection points across different axes: market changes, product recalls, executive succession ( voluntary or not), planned exits, product launches, the inability to recruit good people, or maintaining shelf space. We put a senior communications pro at the leadership table to help plan for desired outcomes and build the compelling communications plan required to communicate across all internal and external stakeholders in the short, medium and long term.
  • Thought Leadership Programs: Increasingly, your ability to execute your business strategy is predicated on sharing your vision for the future in easy-to-grasp ways your customers, consumers, and communities can readily access, and then engage with. What your organization thinks about its industry, business culture, matters to more and more people. We mind-meld with you to first identify and then articulate your distinct point of view. Then, we work to get your message in front of the audiences that matter most
  • Get On The Map: Entrepreneurs know they need to implement distinctive and effective thought leadership, content, media relations and social media campaigns to win, but knowing how to execute those programs and finding the time to do so is a totally different story. Our scalable Get on the Map program is designed to help entrepreneurs build the tools small companies need to execute a solid communications strategy, all the way to implementing this program over the long haul.

In many ways, what we do hasn’t changed, but how other people appreciate it has increased dramatically in the last 20 years.

What we know is that our deep experience across multiple industries, business models, and business situations has helped us plot long-term business strategies enabled by robust, strategic communications plans for early-stage to well-established mid-cap, public, private and B-corp companies.

And their success in managing through these key inflection points is what drives us to do what we do.

Read our latest POV on the rise of the fractional CCO here.