A WeWork exec’s departure underscores the team sport required to own the narrative

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The highly-expected initial public offering of your firm has taken a nosedive in terms of valuation. Your CEO, whose antics have already garnered way too many unflattering news stories, has been unceremoniously pushed out. Now the viability of the entire market in which your firm is operating is being questioned.
Who’s ready to put out a perky press release to make it all go away?
It almost doesn’t matter who had been in the role of chief communications officer at WeWork. This has become, by any measure, the most challenging CCO job in a B2B brand imaginable. To quit, at this point, is a statement more powerful than almost anything you could train an executive to say on TV news or in a magazine interview.
In this case, however, the CCO in question was Jimmy Asci, who had previously toiled in an arguably even worse environment at Uber amid the Travis Kalanick controversies. His tenure at WeWork, however, lasted a scant six months, and he’s at leas the third person on his team to make his exit, according to Bloomberg.
Given what’s happening at WeWork, this likely means other people will have to serve as de facto CCO from adjacent groups such as marketing or investor relations. According to Investis Digital CEO Don Scales, this may not be a bad thing.
Writing in Forbes earlier this month, Scales suggested many organizations would be better served if IR, corp comms and marketing merged, or at least worked more closely together:
Corporate communicators can learn a great deal from marketers given their similar role in audience listening, engagement and response. Just as customer engagement has become an ongoing dialogue for marketers, engagement with employees and prospects has become an ongoing task for the corporate team, and communicators must now serve as active listeners, proactively monitoring conversations and feedback on company culture, hiring processes, work-life balance and more, all delivered by their employees on social media, job review sites and other platforms.
One would think achieving alignment in these areas would be at least a little easier than what B2B firms have been trying to do with their marketing and sales teams. Too often we only walk in another line of business’s shoes when there’s a major crisis and backfilling positions isn’t an options.
Instead, organizations should be more proactively about job-shadowing or fostering the kind of collaboration that will make, say, the departure of a CCO easier to manage. It’s all about being more conscious about the way we work. Even if we’re not working in a place as contentious as WeWork.
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Shane Schick
Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.