A New Search for Common Ground

March 2, Andy Polansky

A legendary product becomes blacklisted by activists upset that the company has pulled advertising from certain websites. A powerful female CEO loses her job in a bruising battle with an activist investor. And the billionaire founder of one of the world's largest Internet companies takes to the streets to personally join protestors who are opposed to immigration restrictions.

Welcome to the new age of activism.

With our world in the midst of political polarization, social unrest, fake news rivaling real news, and yawning cultural chasms, it stands to reason that companies and their leaders are now faced with managing issues that were once unimaginable.

Not so long ago, activism was almost exclusively the purview of non-governmental organizations. But in these most unprecedented of times, our organizations -- public, private and non-profit -- are becoming hotbeds of employee activism, fodder for consumer and shareholder activists, targets of social media trolls, and even ground zero for C-Suite activism.

With all of this converging and colliding activity, it is the CCO who sits right in the middle of the intersection -- tasked with directing, navigating and untangling it all, yet doing so while ensuring transparency and integrity, managing stakeholder expectations, maintaining a strong corporate culture, and preserving their company's values and purpose.

For that reason, our annual Spring Seminar is designed to guide CCOs as they contend with this new age of activism. This year's theme, "The Changing Face of Activism: Reaching Common Ground in a Polarized World," could not be more timely. We will explore the implications of this burgeoning new activism and we'll hear from compelling speakers who have tackled shareholder activism, incited employee activism, responded to media fakery and have stood up to purpose-driven values.

I have the honor of chairing this year's Spring Seminar, and look forward to convening a robust member dialogue on how and why activism has become a critical issue for stakeholders today, and how CCOS and all communicators can prepare for this era of rising activism and better ensure that they protect the health of their brands and the reputations of their companies.
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