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The Case of a Reluctant CEO or Flabby Communications Practices?


Photo: LUMESchannel

Successfully communicating executive leadership should not simply be a one-off agenda item! So, I ask, when CEO leadership is being second guessed, is a Twitter strategy enough by itself?


Recently the Sunday New York Times business section brought back its long-running and prestigious The Corner Office feature interview series, where top corporate organizational leaders are seen and heard. For the CEO of a hot, rising company, it’s a marvelous place to be profiled but it’s so very selective, that not everyone gets in.


In communications, doing it right means delivering your messages to key, diverse audiences with frequency and repetition. This rule goes for any genre of business organization: corporations, non-profits, professional service, and even labor.


I was recently told that the president of a century-old organization is getting intense pressure from key stakeholders about not meeting his ‘brand ambassador’ duties. A CEO must wear multiple hats, and, in this case, the growing chorus of complainers feel their leader is not vocal enough in promoting their long-established and successful brand.


From the communications perspective, I see why there is unrest. Their current PR specialists are satisfied with simply Tweeting and Re-Tweeting, but little beyond that. Their main communications tools appear to have been left vacant, while other players in their market have stepped forward to become more prominent, resulting in a loss of market relevance.


I can also empathize with the leader, because not everyone enjoys the bright lights of the media. Over the years I’ve been told by CEO’s uncomfortable with the attention to, “keep me out of the media,” or “I don’t look or sound good on TV and radio.”


For such clients, our teams have always worked diligently, but with a different playbook as an adjunct voice for leadership. In the unfortunate case of this company, is the is president actually the one being let down by his own team?


There are many tracks reputational brand leaders must always pursue to bolster the C-Suite’s message. Consider an enhanced presence on editorial pages or prominent industry thought leader trade publications, setting your corporate leadership up for communications success. A CEO can’t do it all themselves. They need support, as trustworthy and goal oriented as they are.


It may seem elementary but start with deploying the pressing topics in the news or your industry or where your company has a position of authority. In just the last week our team had three major editorial page home runs for three different corporate thought leaders.


For a billion-dollar real estate concern we addressed community health, nutrition and food deserts. The group is invested in adding supermarkets where they are lacking. The academic-styled bylined piece was featured on the Newark Star Ledger editorial page. As for my earlier reference to Tweeting alone, in just 24-hours this gained commentary from 185 regional thought leaders, further promoting our client’s presence and adding importantly to the dialogue.


Few understand that in the Big Apple, when a large corporation signs a retail lease, the city tacks-on additional property taxes to the commercial landlord, oddly linked back to the retail corporation’s total revenue and earnings. Another of our clients who recognizes this as economically unsound and unjust for retailers and landlords alike, speaks out this week in a Crain’s New York Business bylined opinion article.


When Congress changed the tax laws in 2017, it sought to incentivize business to invest more for the long term in economically lagging communities. Recognizing a market opportunity with one of the nation’s largest chambers of commerce magazines, we advanced an insightful bylined piece by a client who is a legal and business development advocate on the law’s benefits, for an investor audience representing 52,100 businesses, 1.5 million jobs and $12.9 billion in annual spending.


So, when I hear excuses as to why an organization or its leader’s reputation are lagging, it makes me wonder, given all the many tasks that a CEO or practice leader is responsible for, is poor corporate messaging performance really about a reluctant CEO or perhaps the byproduct of flabby communications practices?


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