One of the most common questions we frequently receive from our membership is: “Where does the communications function sit in other companies?” Now, thanks to the latest data from our annual Resource Allocation Benchmarking Survey, we have the answer to this question. However, it’s not a straightforward one because it turns out that communications functions can be found in many places on companies’ org charts. Among the 2013 Survey participants: 29% reported to the CEO, 20% reported to the chief marketing officer, 12 % to head of human resources, and the rest was scattered among chief administration officers, chief financial officers, and head of corporate strategy and affairs.
However, it turns out that where the function reports has really important implications for several reasons. First of all, the resource availability and budget size are strongly dependent on reporting structure. Communications budgets of communications functions reporting to the CEO are twice the size of the budgets of functions reporting to the head of human resources. Second, the focus of the function that communications reports to has important implications for the investment decisions of the function. Our data show that communicators reporting to HR are investing more resources in internal communications, while teams reporting to marketing invest more in externally focused activities. communictors reporting to the CEO show the most balance between external and internal activities investment.
During our recent webinar, “Key Trends in Communications Priorities and Budgets for 2014” (CEB Communications members can access a replay here), we asked participants to discuss what they see as the biggest advantages and disadvantages of reporting to the CEO vs somewhere else within the organization. Below are the top 4 advantages and disadvantages of reporting to the CEO based on our membership feedback.
- Ease of alignment with strategy and ability to influence it
- Great value placed on the function and credibility
- Greater visibility and more recognition
- More accountability
- More scrutiny
- Low priority on your “boss’s'” agenda
- CEO’s agenda dictates all activities