CEOs’ PR Sins. A Small Guide to Heaven and Hell

Yes. I know. Many of my good friends, whose job is to represent their organisations, will “love” me again. But somebody must say it. Most often, the biggest obstacle ahead of successful corporate communication is a clumsy CEO.

Here is my list of Top 10 most common sins that CEOs indulge in without being aware that such behavior is sabotaging their team’s efforts and wasting precious communication budgets.

1. I know everything.

CEOs who think they know everything and need no further learning are exactly those who need training the most.

2. He can do it.

No, he can’t. He may be your spokesman, but he cannot be a leader instead of you. Corporate representation comes in a package with a leadership position and lush yearly bonuses, so it’s actually your job to be the first who shares the news with your employees and the wide public, may it be good or bad news.

3. I am everything.

CEOs who micro-manage their communication teams are more prone to poor results than those CEOs who set up clear directions, and then create room for their accomplishment.

4. I don’t need preparation.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail,” said Benjamin Franklin. He must have known what he was talking about. Failing to prepare for any type of communication – live speeches, presentations or media encounters – means failing to put your message across at best. At worst it means bringing over crisis communication with potential disastrous consequences. Know your facts; know exactly what you’re trying to say and what you don’t want to say. Only then you can stay safe from the storm.

5. Sales first, communication second.

Sure. How many clients have you ever convinced to buy your products by remaining silent? Communication starts the moment you articulate your idea in your mind, then you share it with your team and the world. There are no sales without communication. There are no sustainable profits without proficient communication.

6. Deadline? What’s that?

It’s that nasty thing that needs to be filed by x o’clock today. If you want to be quoted, meet reporters’ deadlines. Better yet, be the first to provide a quote as soon as possible; you increase your chances of getting quoted over and over again and thus fix your name in your audience’s memory. There are no perfect articles; there are only articles that can be published by the deadline. Respect this rule of thumb in journalism and your name will live forever in the media.

7. Can I authorize?

Would you ask your surgeon the same question when he gets ready to perform an operation on you? No, because you respect his profession and you think he knows his craft. Journalism is a profession, too. Respect reporters, and you will be respected by the media.

8. They’re just a bunch of ignorants.

No, reporters don’t understand your business as good as you do. They aren’t paid to understand your business, they are paid to have good sources and tell stories that change people’s lives. You can change the world too, when you are a good source. Besides, every meeting with a fledgling reporter is an opportunity to educate him in your field of business by sharing trends, market observations and news tips with him. Why not go after your chance?

9. Facts, tables, charts.

Facts are good, but what’s a story without emotions and action? Reporters write lively, vivid articles that people want to read in one breath. For that, you need to spice up your speech with anecdotes, examples, metaphors and things that happened to real people. The more naturally you communicate the better.

10. Who’s in charge here?

During the interview – the reporter. You might want to take the lead and influence the direction of the conversation, but you can do that only one way: through your answers. Don’t try to balance force with force because it will turn against you. Stay agile and it will play into your advantage.

Now let’s take a look at how CEOs can boost their PR team’s results once they accept that communication is a priority and that it’s their job to stand the role and represent their organization.

  1. Start reading the newspapers and remember the names of reporters who cover your industry. There is a high chance you will meet them soon, and it’s always good to break the ice with a line on the reporter’s last story you’ve just read.
  2. Hold a small agenda for ideas. One of the hardest things to do for a PR person is to get access to know-how that lies in somebody’s head. If you want to communicate better, write down those topics that excite you to talk about, then go back to them when you have a moment and develop your comments into an expert article. Few media will refuse to run it if it’s good.
  3. Ask for feedback. After each media encounter ask your PR rep: “How could I have done this even better?” Then listen, practice and master your craft.
  4. Show gratitude. Those people in your communication team do tremendous efforts to bring you closer to your public through the media. As they build your personal brand, they do you a favor. Appreciate when they bring some positive results, it’s much more work behind the scene than you might think at first look.
  5. Stay open, be courageous to new ideas and approaches, and learn from everything that comes your way. This applies not only in communication. It’s a life challenge. Yet, communication has this wicked attribute of showing us exactly when we are lying to ourselves. Maybe that’s why so many people, including CEOs, avoid it.

As we grow with the market, our awareness on how to manage our businesses better is also growing. Communication is becoming common sense for more and more companies, and it’s no longer a competitive advantage. It does become a competitive advantage when the leader – entrepreneur, CEO, manager – dares to look into himself, and then dares to share his vision with the world. There is where it starts. Afterwards, it’s only a matter of choice – heaven and hell are equally close, in business and communication alike.

THIS TEXT HAS FIRST BEEN PUBLISHED IN THE COLUMN MEDIAPOWER BY LEADERS MAGAZINE ON AUGUST 6, 2012 http://www.leadersmagazine.cz/2012/08/06/ceos-pr-sins-a-small-guide-to-heaven-and-hell/#.UuDad7RNyM8

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The best way to gain, retain, and restore your critical distance as a woman CEO is to have a faithful guide, thought partner, and inspiring challenger by your side. This is what I am for women CEOs. If you are facing major developments in your business or in your career this year, we should talk. Please book or have your assistant book a no-strings-attached free 30-minute CEO exploration call with me; we will get to know each other and I will be thrilled to spot how I could be of your service in 2024 and beyond.
Cristina Muntean
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Let's Talk

The best way to gain, retain, and restore your critical distance as a woman CEO is to have a faithful guide, thought partner, and inspiring challenger by your side. This is what I am for women CEOs. If you are facing major developments in your business or in your career this year, we should talk. Please book or have your assistant book a no-strings-attached free 30-minute CEO exploration call with me; we will get to know each other and I will be thrilled to spot how I could be of your service in 2024 and beyond.