Sunday, November 25, 2007

CEOs Talk PR

It is no secret corporate initiatives that lack management support are destined to flame out. That’s why visibility in the C-suite for public relations activities is so critical. This awareness is especially important with the CEO, who sets the company’s strategic direction and typically works with the CFO to approve the allocation of resources.

Many CEOs find a proactive public relations campaign to be a “nice to have”, rather than a driver of growth. It’s understandable as the ROI can be fuzzy. However, it’s important for the CEO to recognize the increased awareness and third-party credibility generated from public relations creates an environment in which a company can be more successful executing its plan. Ultimately, people do business with, work for, invest in and partner with companies they know and trust. PR is about building know and trust.

For corporate communications professionals and their agency partners, an ongoing dialogue with the CEO is a must. It ensures the program is in line with the direction of the business while continually sharing with the CEO the results and return delivered to the company.

Recently, PR Week magazine ( in partnership with Burson Marsteller polled 144 CEOs on their views about public relations. The results were interesting:

  • More than 85 percent believe it is important for the CEO to be perceived as an influencer in their respective industry, as well as with internal audiences.
  • Public relations was most often cited by CEOs for its positive impact on: brand awareness, monitoring and enhancing corporate reputation, and increasing sales. Surprisingly, categories rarely identified as benefiting from a PR program were enhancing corporate valuation and attracting talent.
  • The PR activities CEOs most often engage in include: speaking at conferences, meeting and talking with industry and financial analysts, conducting media interviews, and authoring op-eds or bylined articles.
  • Only 37 percent said writing a blog was a worthwhile PR activity.
  • Fortune magazine is the most influential media as its 100 Best Companies to Work For and Most Admired Companies ranked tops on the CEO wish list.