Last fall, before I joined the Spin Sucks Pro team, Gini Dietrich asked me to contribute a letter to Dear CEO, an ebook compiling advice from more than 30 PR and Marketing experts to CEOs in the new era of communication. Following is my letter. You can purchase the eBook here for $40.
You may have discovered you have become the leader of a media company in addition to the business you’re accustomed to guiding. If you haven’t, I hope you’ll think about it that way as you move forward.
I know. You’re on it. Your organization embraces social media. You have dedicated staff working the social networks. They are broadcasting news, interacting with customers, blogging. They are talking. But are you taking a good look at the walk?
Communications is just as much walk as it is talk. Let your actions lead your communications plan. What do you want to be? How do you want to be perceived? Are you being that at every level of your organization? And when I say being, I definitely don’t mean are you just saying it on social media. Big difference.
Transparency and authenticity. What exactly does it mean to be authentic? Tony Hayward was all too transparent about his feelings and it cost him his job. He certainly couldn’t be accused of being inauthentic when he said he wanted his life back.
So what does that mean to you? How do you navigate this new world and avoid being the butt of the next satirical video that goes viral?
Inspire us. We want to be inspired by a great leader and learn lessons from someone like you. If you’re running an organization that inspires us in any way, we want to know everything about you. We want to know what you’re reading, how you start your day, how you manage your time, and where you get your inspiration. Lead an organization that is bigger than just selling your widgets. Be a great place to work, be a steward of your community. Share your knowledge. We’ll do the talking for you.
If you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there on the digital landscape.
If you are uncomfortable opening your blog to comments, or starting a Facebook page because you are not prepared to go there, you are hiding something. Look inside, identify where the source of the potential backlash is, and fix the problem. Then, go do your best champion self-talk in the bathroom mirror and face the masses.
The negative discussion will happen with or without your presence. Invite it to your forum, wherever that may be, and address it head on.
Don’t be a stranger. If you’ve been inspiring us and engaging with us, you’ve built a community that knows and trusts you. In times of crisis, you’ll be pretty happy to have them on your side.
Let us inspire you. I’m sure you are curious about us. What are our habits, behaviors and preferences? You can ask me what I’m reading, what I’m doing this weekend. Wow, you can conduct your own market research under the guise of just you know, talking to us. And when you show an interest, and we’re sharing stories? That’s engagement.
So when you sit down with your PR professional, and ask, “How can I get people to understand we’re a big community philanthropist?” The answer should be simple: Be one.
When you ask, “How can we get people to think of us as the go-to such and such widget maker?” Be one.
Be one. And let others do the talking for you.
All the best,
Chief Content Officer
Spin Sucks and Spin Sucks Pro
If you were to give just one piece of advice to CEO’s about digital communication, what would it be?