Your CEO needs communications support, too

The air might seem a little different in those corner offices with sweeping views, detailed artwork and the subtle touches that mark a high level of achievement. Despite the trappings, CEOs are people with strengths and weaknesses like everyone else. This exclusive group needs the counsel of public relations professionals who aren’t afraid to speak with honesty and candor to shape public image, influence stakeholders and build the company’s reputation.  

Communicators play a vital role to ensure that CEOs mirror the mission and vision of their organizations. These top leaders are the brand, the voice and the credibility that builds trust. These tactics can help you set up your CEO and organization for positive outcomes: 

Get to know your CEO and create his or her story

Create a one-page bio about your CEO that includes a photo and brief career history. While this may seem basic, it’s a key tool that you can update regularly to reflect current achievements, awards, certifications and links to recent media interviews and keynote speeches.

Develop customizable messages that go anywhere

Most of us wouldn’t leave the office without our laptops; make sure your CEO is well equipped to leave the building with talking points and an elevator speech that reflect the organization’s current priorities and key performance indicators. Update these documents regularly to reflect current top-level company goals, projects and initiatives. 

Create a robust internal communications plan

Your employees should be the first to hear about news that affects them and your organization from their leadership. An overall plan with milestones, key messages and a direct connection to mission and vision will build employee morale and foster trust. Internal audiences don’t just need to know what’s happening – they also need to understand the “why” behind decisions that impact their day-to-day work life.  

Build a strong personal brand

As the face of your organization, your CEO is not only your organization’s primary brand champion – their own brand is just as critical to stakeholder opinion of the organization, from the public’s opinion to employee opinion and beyond. Public relations professionals can shape the CEO’s brand by focusing their communications on the organization’s mission and vision. Regularly disseminating consistent messages via media interviews, social media activity, speaking opportunities and public appearances help to reinforce that brand.  

Manage crises with your CEO

With a crisis communications plan in tow, when the news is bad, guide your CEO through communicating with key stakeholders such as employees, board members, customers, investors and the media. The overall goal is to provide honest messaging that acknowledges the situation, minimizes damage and restores trust. 

Provide media relations training

Before a news crew shows up at the office, ensure that your CEO and other key executives participate in media training that includes recorded mock interviews, talking points, preparation in advance for questions, speaking guidelines and instruction on how to respond effectively. 

Position your CEO as a thought leader

Secure speaking engagements, collaborate to draft op-eds and thought leadership pieces and leverage social media channels to elevate your top executive as an expert in their field.  

Get to know your CEO’s voice for script writing

As a key partner and communicator, you’ll most likely draft scripts for your CEO for myriad events including employee forums, keynote addresses at fundraisers professional development and community events. It’s worth the time and effort to spend time learning this person’s voice and how to convey it in written word. Check out previous media interviews, company newsletter CEO columns and past speeches. For every event, make sure there’s a printed copy of your well-drafted script at the podium. 

Communications professionals and executives listen and learn together. You bring expertise to the table that your CEO needs and, in turn, your CEO has institutional knowledge and often many years of experience in his or her field. Together, you can make inroads that will position you both as trusted leaders. This type of working relationship will reap untold benefits for your organization. 

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