New study by Peppercomm and the Institute for Public Relations identifies how CCOs and CMOs are operating in an era of uncertainty, polarization and fake news

NEW YORK, April 26, 2017 – The election of President Trump has initiated a ripple effect of challenges and opportunities for corporate communications and marketing departments. The industry is assessing and planning for the impact of political uncertainty, polarization of stakeholders, and increase in fake news. These were some of the issues revealed in a series of interviews with 22 leading chief communication officers (CCOs) and chief marketing officers (CMOs) conducted by Peppercomm and the Institute for Public Relations (IPR). Participants were granted confidentiality and represented a diverse set of both consumer and business-to-business industries, including financial services, healthcare, insurance, law, pharmaceuticals, retail and transportation.

“When we started this project, we weren’t focused on President Trump, but overwhelmingly, CCOs and CMOs we interviewed said they are experiencing challenges with the new presidential administration,” said Steve Cody, co-founder and CEO of Peppercomm. “We know the White House can have an impact on a company’s reputation or even stock price, and wanted to probe into what organizations are doing differently.”

Overall, CCOs and CMOs noted their departments are increasing efforts to become better prepared in case an action by the administration affects them or their industry. Some have created crisis plans, noting the importance of a rapid response. Leaders are also thinking about when or if to engage if they are pulled into a public discussion related to politics and/or policy, and they are relying on data and case studies to guide their thinking. In the report, one CCO offered a roadmap of best practices to ensure her organization stays true to its core values and to keep employees in the forefront throughout the process.

“All interviewees, except for one whose company doesn’t do business in the U.S., said President Trump and his new administration could impact, or has had an impact, on their business functions,” said Dr. Tina McCorkindale, president and CEO of IPR. “Closely monitoring and preparing for potential issues within the organization, industry, and overall business environment will be critical for CCOs.”

CCOs and CMOs also noted that stakeholders are increasingly becoming more polarized. For example, a mention by President Trump can create either a boycott or a swell of support. Some companies are taking advantage by doubling-down on messages of open-mindedness and tolerance, while others are redirecting their messaging to focus on corporate contributions to the U.S. economy and culture. Sniffing out and combating fake news were also cited as new challenges for CCOs and CMOs.

The next study to be released by Peppercomm and IPR will focus on the key complex challenges and opportunities senior communication and marketing executives face in today’s rapidly changing world, including the impact of digital and data and the expanding role of the CCO.

For the complete report, visit


About Peppercomm

Peppercomm is an award-winning strategic, integrated communications and marketing agency headquartered in New York City with offices in San Francisco and London. The firm connects brands, messages and people through data-driven insights, cross-channel communications and brilliant customer experience. Employing an omni-channel approach, the company uses customer insights to determine the right mix of tools and platforms to help clients reach, engage and influence customers along their path to purchase. Founded in 1995, Peppercomm has received numerous accolades, including The Holmes Report’s North American Corporate/B2B Agency of the Year and Bulldog Reporter’s Midsized Agency of the Year. The agency has been listed as one of Fortune’s 10 Best Workplaces in Advertising and Marketing, 100 Best Workplaces for Women, 50 Best Small and Medium Workplaces and 50 Best Workplaces for New College Grads. For more information, visit

About The Institute for Public Relations

The Institute for Public Relations is an independent, nonprofit research foundation dedicated to the science beneath the art of public relations ™ and focuses on research that is applicable in communications practice. Its research is available for free at

Media Contacts:

Paul Merchan

Sarah Jackson
Communications Manager
Institute for Public Relations

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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