Attend any PR industry meeting or conference and you are bound to hear grumbling about how PR doesn’t have “a seat at the table.” Many PR professionals feel like they are only brought into the C-suite conversations when there is a crisis or some other immediate situational need, rather than being a part of the ongoing conversations about the operation, reputation and future plans of the company. At Obsidian, we are fortunate to have a majority of clients who keep a seat nice and warm for us at all times. While some of our client liaisons include marketing or communication department heads, for the most part, we are in direct communication with the company’s CEO.
Through my direct experience in dealing with these super busy – and super influential – individuals, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to best communicate with them…how to speak their language.
Run the Highlight Reel
As much as we Type-A PR personalities love our details and strive to provide the most comprehensive update we possibly can, any CEO wants to hear the highlights: what have we done, what worked, what didn’t and what’s next. Sparing them the long, drawn-out report on all of our efforts and plans shows that we know what matters to the bottom line and respect their time enough to keep it simple.
Talk Numbers to Me
If your highlights don’t provide numbers showing results, you might as well be reciting poetry. Results are what matter most to CEOs. Think: How much did we spend and what response did it attract?
Catch Me If You Can
As I mentioned before, CEOs are super busy people. And, while it can be a fantastic thing to have a direct line of communication to the CEO of a company, don’t bet your bottom dollar that communication with him or her is going to happen whenever you’d like. However, understanding and respecting this is a key to keeping that seat at the table. There’s a fine line between following up and simply bothering someone, so while it’s necessary to keep trying to catch the CEO when there’s an important item that needs immediate approval, some things can wait until your next bi-weekly, sit-down meeting. Most super busy people appreciate when you’ve gone the extra mile to make sure they don’t miss a deadline or opportunity, but if they have to step away from a meeting to respond to something that isn’t all that immediate, it won’t sit well – I promise.
So, practice these steps, and you will be well on your way to speaking CEO.