All I want for Christmas is... a PR-friendly CEO

The difference in results between working with an organisation with a PR-friendly CEO and not, in my experience, is the difference between night and day.

All Ilona Hitel wants for Christmas is a PR-friendly CEO to work with
All Ilona Hitel wants for Christmas is a PR-friendly CEO to work with

In fact, if the board doesn’t back or buy into PR, you may as well just pack up your ideas and head home. Half in, half out is a scenario you also don’t want to invest in, or should set alarm bells ringing.

We’ve been caught out by this a couple of times this year, with prospects who think they need PR and make all the right noises, but they just don’t make the time for it and after you've invested time and effort, they disappear.

It’s difficult to read these sometimes, but I would make a call to industry to up its game here.

If professionals make the time to analyse, develop ideas, come to present, they deserve the courtesy of a response, even if ultimately it's not what they want to hear.

If you want passion, don’t kill it dead at the outset.

Once you’ve decided your company deserves profile, it’s not rocket science: here’s the essence of how it works (and doesn’t).

Passion for PR is driven from the top. There are no two ways about it - making bandwidth for it can make your company famous. Many brands just disappear off of the radar post investment news.

A good PR will be able to interact with the top team and translate their messages and passion into stories.

Working together, this becomes a well-oiled machine, with five per cent of effort from the CEO or CTO, and the other 95 per cent from the agency to produce results.

With no time to input or approve, everything stagnates. PRs can craft a lot of stories out of thin air, but they can’t approve them nor add the magic touch of management.

Know your story

Your vision for why you established the company is everything. And if you don’t have it, you need PR to shape it, and create a story in the marketplace.

The story is half of the battle. A good PR will also recognise what makes a media story and be only too enthused to tell it.

If your message is too technical, all about you (nobody cares!) or ‘samey’, the media will ignore it altogether. A CEO who says they are different but cannot explain why has some work to do.

Expect great results, but be realistic

Understanding the media is key to managing your expectations and what it takes to build brand reputation. Many online outlets now outnumber the circulation of broadsheets; it’s not just the FT that means success.

If you’re doing PR for the right reasons and not just for your own profile, the effect will be just the same.

If the FT is top of the wish list before your company has customers or a story then you need to have a re-think.

Have goals and work with your PR team to build a ‘drumbeat’ plan to create momentum and reach these targets. Building profile takes effort, but not yours, as it’s the PR who should do most of the heavy lifting.

All they need is your availability, prioritisation, willingness to see the opportunity, and the inspiration you bring.

Say thanks when you achieve great things together. You will find the rest takes care of itself.

Ilona Hitel is managing director of CommsCo

Thumbnail image ©ThinkstockPhotos

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