EDITORIAL: PROs show chief executive qualities

The hiring by Rossendale council of Bradford PR head Owen Williams as CEO is yet another indicator that interview panels are waking up to the fact that the qualities of a good boss and a good comms head are often the same.

Williams' appointment comes in the same week that a survey by headhunter Whitehead Mann revealed the attributes of 'the ultimate corporate communications director'. These attributes - good comms judgement, ability to operate on big platforms, protecting the firm's reputation, openness and integrity - are also the obvious skills of a CEO.

While Williams' move is rare, it shows it is possible for PROs to reach the top. But the pace is still too slow. The last council PRO to make the move was Derbyshire head of press then CEO John Raine, who retired in the late 1990s.

The IPR local government group is one organisation to recognise the need to speed up the process and is now planning a series of courses aimed at converting more PROs into CEO material. One of the group's committee members said that at top table meetings the PR professional is wrongly but often seen as 'the weakest link'. Williams for one would dispute this tag.

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