Marketing and media leaders face significant ethical and emotional dissonance in year ahead

by | Sep 15, 2022 | Public Relations

New future-facing research delving into the hearts and minds of global marketing and media leadership from strategic advisory firm MediaLink uncover the trends, provocative opinions and unruly challenges they will grapple with in the year ahead.

The report’s findings suggest that amid a backdrop of a record post-pandemic bounce back, along with stakeholder pressure to deliver results, the industry’s expectations on profit have become disconnected with a movement among the business community to lead well.

The firm’s 12th annual Revelation Report finds that industry leaders’ confidence for business growth has sunk significantly, from 59 percent in 2021 to 29 percent in 2022, with 27 percent of leaders this year feeling concerned. Additionally, 51 percent of respondents believe that brands or parts of their business are facing extinction—with 54 percent stating that they will need refreshed leadership in order to transform. Meanwhile, 75 percent of leaders say they feel in some way professionally fulfilled. And yet, 49 percent of respondents are considering moving companies in the year ahead, and 24 percent are considering leaving the industry.

Marketing and media leaders face significant ethical and emotional dissonance in year ahead

“Our research revealed that media and marketing leaders today are facing a moment of inner turmoil, marked by a genuine desire to create environments where talent thrives and society evolves for the better, while feeling challenged to live up to these goals realistically,” said Kathleen Saxton, Managing Director, EMEA and Global Talent Advisory, MediaLink, in a news release. “But talent is our greatest asset, and in 2023, leaders have the opportunity to improve their reality if they adopt an abundance mindset that ensures the long-term success of our industry, rather than the short-term protection that the scarcity mindset demands.”

Marketing and media leaders face significant ethical and emotional dissonance in year ahead

The report explores these tensions in depth in four sections: 1) Beyond the Barometer: a gauge of the state of leaders’ careers and organizations at a time of simultaneous survival and transformation, 2) Lost at C-Suite: an exploration of the discrepancy between a company’s stated focus vs. the strength of the talent, voice and investment at the board level, 3) The Disconnected Delta, an analysis of the dissonance between expectations of a job well done and what that should actually look like, and 4) Money Laundering: a dive into the C-Suite’s ethical tensions, such as the extent to which one might compromise morals over money.

Marketing and media leaders face significant ethical and emotional dissonance in year ahead

Examples of other key findings from the report include:

Beyond the Barometer

  • 84 percent of leaders are proud of their company (an all-time high), with 49 percent saying they’re “incredibly proud;” but only 21 percent are “incredibly proud” of their industry
  • Confidence in existing leadership to guide their companies into the future decreased from 71 percent in 2021 to 65 percent in 2022
  • 27 percent of those between the ages of 31 and 40 are now looking for a less demanding role in service to their wellbeing
  • 75 percent of respondents feel that their business has “never” or “rarely” compromised its core values in pursuit of short-term wins

Lost at C-Suite

  • Leaders’ top three business priorities are financial performance & growth, followed by talent acquisition & development and employee wellbeing—well above DE&I and ethical business practices; environmental sustainability was last
  • Leaders ranked the CFO, CEO and COO as the board members responsible for financial performance & growth; CMOs and CHROs were not ranked at all as having responsibility
  • When asked which roles on their board they held in highest regard, leaders chose the CEO, followed by CFO and then COO, with only a fifth of respondents naming CMO and less than a fifth naming CRO
  • CMOs were scored highest for being under qualified and sat in the bottom quadrant for being deemed analytical, essential and responsible

Marketing and media leaders face significant ethical and emotional dissonance in year ahead

Money Laundering

  • Most companies say their business approach skews towards “morals over money,” with DE&I, employee wellbeing, ethical business practices and talent acquisition and development being key areas of priority
  • Leaders ranked working with a company that donates to political parties and curtailing internal sustainability initiatives as the most palatable ethically questionable ways to meet their financial goals
  • Only 10 percent of leaders are worried about being called out by employees for working with morally challenging businesses
  • Nearly 50 percent of respondents feel ethical business practices and talent acquisition have had significantly more impact on a client’s desire to work with them than their environmental sustainability and employee wellbeing policies

Download the full report here.

The Revelation Report’s findings are the result of an August 2022 survey of over 400 C-Suite leaders across the media, marketing, advertising, entertainment and technology sectors in the EMEA and North American markets. It represents their collective views, opinions, and inner thoughts and was devised to further explore and quantify critical themes and hypotheses the MediaLink advisory teams identified and observed during thousands of meetings undertaken over the last year with the leadership teams of these industries’ most progressive companies.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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