CEO does not stand for Chief Ego Officer
Approach 90 per cent of CEOs with a ‘profile’ opportunity with a key publication, and you will get the same reaction. From London to Exeter, no matter the size of the company or the sector in which they operate, you will always get a muted response; ‘I’m not sure that’s for me’ or ‘I’m not sure that I want to put my personal life out there’, or ‘that’s going to do nothing for the company’.
However, real value can be extracted from getting your senior management in front of the press. Many companies are faced with increasingly saturated market conditions, with competitors offering the same or similar products to a limited number of customers. Differentiating yourselves in such market conditions in any way you can is a crucial aspect of a marketing communications campaign, and often this starts with the person at the top.
Customers, potential customers, investors, and other market influencers are looking to understand what a company is about, why they should choose you over and above competitors; highlighting the personality behind the brand gives these audiences an insight into how the company is run, where it has come from and where it is going.
Profiling a senior executive can come in a number of different guises, they do not have to just be about your favourite restaurant or holiday destination; getting a personality behind the brand in front of key audiences is about what you stand for, are you dynamic, innovative, an extrovert or introvert? That sounds like a lot of weight to carry on one pair of shoulders, and no company is the sum of one person, but often the CEO’s personality is reflected throughout a brand, and therefore giving some insight into what you are ‘about’ personally is also a great way of promoting the company.
Often CEO’s believe that their lives or opinion are not interesting enough for anyone to care about. However, very often digging a little bit deeper provides a nugget of gold on which a communications campaign can be hung. Whether it is an interesting hobby or a ‘past life’ (for example a Five Zero client is an ex-city councillor giving us an excellent angle for a public sector campaign we’ve undertaken for them), giving the audience an idea of the company they are about to do business with helps accelerate sales cycles and makes those initial sales calls to potential customers a lot easier.
It also helps the PR person. Rather than desperately trying to scrape enough interesting information about a new product launch (which although important for the company and customers, carries little weight with a journalist) or the latest trade event you’re planning to attend, profiling senior people gives us a great angle. Journalists are equally keen to meet and hear more from the most senior people within a company, and rather than just giving them a quote in a product release, to be able to offer journalists a strong opinion about the market conditions that have lead to the new product being produced, or that the idea for the product came whilst hang-gliding above Dartmoor makes you stand out from the crowd.