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Executive Communication

Internal Tools from PRSA Connect

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Internal Tools from PRSA Connect

It’s rare that a PRSA national conference comes to our hometown, so when PRSA Connect announced its 2016 location in Dallas, I was in. (Not to mention, our awesome clients Topgolf and DFW Airport were presenting.) After nearly two days of presentations and networking, I’ll share a few key internal communications tools and learnings.

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Blake’s Take: Keep the C-Suite Strategic

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Blake’s Take: Keep the C-Suite Strategic

An interesting article recently came out at CIO Dashboard, entitled “Who’s in Charge of Digital?” The world often presents dramatic business changes that cause questions about C-suite roles and responsibilities. But I'd caution leaders to pay close attention when changes are proposed to executive designations.

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Communications from the Top: Effective CEO messaging

Just as there are plenty of different leadership styles, there are just as many communication styles. But there are a few characteristics that you tend to see in top CEO communicators. These are the CEOs who we follow on Twitter, read their op-eds during our lunch break and maybe even pick up their books on the weekend. We trust these leaders. We’re enthused by their work and the direction of their company. To become a leader who can communicate in this way, it’s important to stand out from the crowd with these unique attributes.

Authenticity

Be real. The most inspirational leaders engage on a human-interest level. It’s important for your audience to trust you. Don’t lose them with scripted grandiosity. Use personal stories and be relatable.

Transparency

@Cue Twitter Feed to Taylor Swift love Apple
@Cue Twitter Feed to Taylor Swift love Apple

Strive for an openness that draws the audience in. Knowing they’re not about to get the wool pulled over their eyes will keep an audience listening and engaged. Admit shortcomings and excite them with sneak peeks of the company’s next big idea.

How can CEOs do this while maintaining the respect and competitive advantage of their office and company? By maintaining a growth mindset. Leaders who admit setbacks and ask for input tend to be the best communicators and biggest innovators out there. See Apple’s swift response to artist royalties on streaming music.

Accessibility

Be available. Leaders shielded from the media can project distrustful personas to the public. Executives who engage with employees, customers and external stakeholders build a reputation that garners respect and appreciation, while also reaching a larger audience. This visibility can lend to authenticity, making for more dynamic communications and leadership.

Confidence

Be thoughtful. CEOs stand apart by truly adding value to the conversation through their innovation and reputation for success. These leaders don’t give a keynote with their eyes down at the podium. These CEOs are the ones booking media briefings for open Q&A because they’ve thought through all the questions beforehand. When confronted with an unknown, the CEO is honest and curious about it. It takes a confident leader to ask for critical feedback, like Elon Musk did with his Hyperloop white paper. Establishing these connections builds a following that bolsters credibility.

TED Commandments by Chirag Chamoli
TED Commandments by Chirag Chamoli

If your CEO is giving a speech soon, you might consider incorporating some of the tenets of the TED Commandments throughout the speech writing and preparation process. You can see many of these core traits shine through their communications principles.

And, if you missed the blog on the best tools CEOs can use, be sure to check it out - Communications from the Top: How CEOs communicate.

Photo Credits: Dow Jones Events via Flickr, @Cue Twitter Feed, Chirag Chamoli via Flickr

Communications from the Top: How CEOs communicate

Our society is continuously inundated with information through an ever-growing field of tools and mediums. As a corporate or government leader, it can be hard to know which channels are most effective and how to get your message across. Customers, media and other key audiences are demanding direct access to corporate and government leaders, and communication from the top has become increasingly scrutinized. We’ve got examples of the best tools for executives to make sure you—and your brand—are understood.

Social Media

PRGN-Logo-13-RGB-2-300x150
PRGN-Logo-13-RGB-2-300x150

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great options for leaders and executives to directly engage with new, broader audiences. A recent a Public Relations Global Network Survey discovered that journalists regularly peruse a CEO’s social media presence—LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook—before an interview.  Other studies have shown that CEO engagement on social media helps drive consumer spending and create brand loyalists. Executive presence on social media may be the last thing in the world a CEO has time for, but check out these examples before you write it off:

AskPOTUS
AskPOTUS

-President Obama generated more than 50,000 tweets last week with his #AskPOTUS Twitter chat. The initial response was so overwhelming that it took one hour before his first response. 

-Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore used a selfie stick to give viewers an inside look of SXSW with Meerkat broadcasts.

-NASA and the United States Air Force used Periscope to interview Astronaut Terry Virtz upon his return from the International Space Station.

-Former Governor Perry previewed his 2016 campaign bid on Snapchat.

-Elon Musk teased out new Tesla product lines on Twitter and stocks jumped.

-Intel CEO Brian Krzanich opted for a Reddit AMA, but came under criticism for avoiding top two questions regarding the NSA.

-Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg brought tears to our eyes with a post about her late husband.

-DFW Airport has been hosting #AskDFWExec Twitter chats to connect AvGeeks everywhere with a sampling of their executive leadership. Watch for EVP Ken Buchanan on July 10.

Traditional Media

Opinion editorials in local, business and trade media publications are a great way to put the leader or company’s message on the record. Strategically placed editorials can impact public opinion before an election or vote. It can also be a great way to highlight and raise awareness on different issues. See some of my favorite examples below:

Levi CEO
Levi CEO

-McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook’s Chicago Tribune Op-ed, “Why we're raising wages

-Former first lady and founder of Taking Care of Texas Laura Bush’s column in The Dallas Morning News, “Conservation can start in your own garden

-Levi Strauss & Co. CEO Charles Bergh Forbes Op-ed, “Do the world a favor n’ wash your jeans every 10 wears

Thought Leadership

You can also consider speaking engagements or conferences where there will be industry leaders, rising experts and respected media. A speaking circuit of handpicked events can be an effective way to get your message heard and confer with influencers. Participating in these types of events also positions your executive or executive team as the trusted industry leader and expert.

Last month, the LPR team helped place ConocoPhillips’ Chief Technology Officer Ram Shenoy as a keynote at the University of Colorado-Denver’s Energy Moving Forward forum.

Clear and effective communication is crucial to the success of any leader. Much more goes into a CEO media orientation and preparation, but exploring these tools can help set your business leader apart from the crowds.

What are some techniques or stories you’ve seen or used when working with c-level clients?

Be sure to check back with us for Communications from the Top: Effective CEO Messaging.

(Photo Credits: Public Relations Global Network; @POTUS Twitter Feed; Fortune Stuart Isett, Fortune Brainstorm)