Who do Senior PR/Communication department Heads/CCOs turn to when they face leadership and management challenges that seem beyond their years of experience? They could turn to other senior executives in the organization. They could turn to other senior CCOs in other organizations. They could turn to a specialized executive coach.

Most CCOs lead a singular work life, leading a function that is misunderstood or, at best, partly understood by the rest of the organization’s executive team. While worthwhile, the coaching help they receive from other executives in the organization seldom takes into account the inherent distinctiveness of the PR/C function. Also helpful is the coaching the CCO could receive from other CCOs, but this coaching is never on site, taking into consideration the unique variables of the organization’s history, business model, geographic scope, culture or personalities. 

Seeking a coach who has a comprehensive understanding of the PR/C function and its leadership and management requirements and who can spend the time to learn the organization is another option.

CCOs who engage an executive coach benefit in five important ways:

  • They set and daily model a clearer vision for their PR/C department;
  • They are more successful in achieving their departmental goals;
  • They are more effective managers and leaders;
  • They build stronger synergies within the department and across teams;
  • They are more successful in achieving change in the department.

My work helps senior communication executives with their professional, workplace growth, focusing on real leadership and management work situations such as team goal setting, engaging and influencing stakeholders at all levels to achieve objectives; determining the right results; developing strategic and innovative approaches to managing change and transitions; making tangible improvements in leadership performance; making better management decisions; providing better advice; implementing successful organizational change; and building higher performing operations.

My process focuses on the CCO’s needs, by first gaining a thorough understanding of the challenges he or she faces. We then define the scope of the relationship and agree on specific desired outcomes. Coaching sessions may be in person, over the telephone or by Skype, each lasting for a prearranged length of time. Or, I may attend a retreat or meetings. My role is to listen, hear and understand, synthesize, challenge, counsel, teach and/or exchange knowledge. In between, I might suggest resources such as relevant articles, books, or models to stimulate the CCO’s thinking. The length of the coaching relationship varies depending on the client’s needs and wishes. Coaching is an interactive process, built on mutual trust. Confidentiality is rigorously adhered to.

My work is their in-house PR/C MBA.

What triggers their need to engage me? It could be that a new department Head, someone who has specialized technical experience in the PR/C profession, has not yet the breadth of experience needed in a managerial position. It could be that a new CCO, someone who has managed a small department, hasn’t had the experience in leading a much larger department. It could be that a CCO, who knows there’s need for a major departmental transformation, requires a trusted coach to work alongside throughout the process. It could be that the CCO is under pressure and would do better if she or he has access to a trusted sounding board and a source for different viewpoints and fresh insights.

Case Study: PR/C Department Coaching Engagement


The organization was undergoing a massive reinvention. The CCO had to support this change management exercise, on top of regular responsibilities, while, at the same time, leading her own PR/C department through a transformation in parallel to that of the organization.

Likely Communication Strategies was contracted to support the department’s transformation effort as subject matter expert (SME) and to provide coaching to the CCO.


Likely Communication Strategies supported the department’s transformation team on site, by providing studies and assessments, by developing scenarios, by developing organizational options, by providing academic and industry best practices and by providing expert opinion on options. 

Fraser Likely worked with the CCO separately, working together to develop the arguments and challenges for the CCO to take forward to group and bi-lateral meetings on the organization’s own transformation choices and the possible repercussions on the PR/C function. We also worked on the needs of the department post transformation, particularly the leadership role the CCO would take regarding the:

  • creation, testing, and design of a new long-term strategy;
  • impart of new values, behaviors and attitudes;
  • professional development/mentoring of individuals moved to new positions;
  • creation, communication and monitoring of a set of new controls (policies, procedures and rewards); and
  • motivation of staff to embrace the gestalt of change.


Change is notoriously eventful and doesn’t proceed in a straight line. The organization ultimately reinvented, at least is certain significant areas. The PR/C department followed suit, needing to change in parallel in order to support and be close to important internal clients. After 18 months, the transformation was complete, with the leadership skills of the CCO more visible, appreciated and valued than prior to the transformation.


Our commitment to confidentiality prevents us from disclosing the identity of our clients and other confidential information.