If your client has nothing to say, don’t let him speak

CHICAGO: If you’re trying to nab speaking opportunities for your client’s CEO or other top corporate officers, start out by making sure he or she has something interesting to say about industry trends or major business issues. And whatever you do, make sure he or she isn’t going to give a canned commercial about the company.

CHICAGO: If you’re trying to nab speaking opportunities for your client’s CEO or other top corporate officers, start out by making sure he or she has something interesting to say about industry trends or major business issues. And whatever you do, make sure he or she isn’t going to give a canned commercial about the company.

CHICAGO: If you’re trying to nab speaking opportunities for your

client’s CEO or other top corporate officers, start out by making sure

he or she has something interesting to say about industry trends or

major business issues. And whatever you do, make sure he or she isn’t

going to give a canned commercial about the company.



This was the advice given by officials from five major business forums

during a conference call earlier this month. The event was coordinated

by Best Practices in Corporate Communications, a DC-based consulting

firm.



’Executive communications is becoming such a big issue,’ said Brian

Heiss of Best Practices. ’It’s really amazing how much of a return on

investment these speeches produce.’



Representatives from key forums, such as the Chief Executives Club of

Boston and the City Club of Cleveland, said that recycled or

self-serving information isn’t likely to play well with their

audiences.



’The key to our program is to get someone who is respected as a leader

and a newsmaker, and hopefully not that scripted in presentation,’ said

Peter Rollins, president of the Boston group.



Jim Foster, executive director of the City Club of Cleveland, related

the tale of a speaker who did nothing but talk about his bank -

thoroughly boring listeners in the process.



’A good program is interesting, substantive and timely,’ Foster

said.



’I sometimes have public affairs or public relations people call me and

say ’We want to have our CEO at the City Club.’ They’ll say ’We have

20,000 employees and several billion dollars in sales’ and I’ll say

’Well, what’s he or she going to speak about?’ They don’t have an

answer.’



Added Kaarina Koskenalusta, president of the Executive Club of Chicago,

’We want vision for a particular industry.’



George Dobbins, program director for the Commonwealth Club of San

Francisco, said that speakers should also be willing to be accessible

to media after their speeches. ’One of the main things we want is

directness and candor,’ he explained. ’We want honesty in terms of

telling us what the CEO will and will not talk about.’ Cleveland’s

Foster, however, said his club discourages speaking with the local

media before a speech, fearing it will dilute its impact and

coverage.



Finally, club executives agreed that corporate PR people should be

willing to work with the clubs to get the maximum local exposure for a

planned speech, noting that clubs often have local media contacts that

a company lacks, and vice versa.



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