As we head into 2024, communications professionals are taking stock of what’s changed and what they’ve learned in the past year. So, what changed in 2023 when it comes to executive visibility and the ways company leaders communicated with stakeholders?
In many ways the fundamentals of good communication, messaging and branding remain the same. But the way executives communicate and the channels they use are always evolving. Here are some of our thoughts from this year.
Global Events Are Impacting Executive Visibility More Than Before
To say the least, it was an eventful year when it came to hot-button political events and global upheaval. Compounded by a 24/7 news cycle dominated by social media platforms (where nuance simply doesn’t exist and the demand to take a stand is instantaneous), political and social issues have grown even more front-and-center when it comes to executive communications.
Obviously, companies cannot and perhaps should not take a public stance on every issue. But for reasons that include both customer and employee relations, some type of statement when big events occur has become expected. The key is to make sure the stance aligns with audiences and company values/goals. And beyond company statements, getting your executives out there through social platforms – where messages can be more well thought-out and controlled – and perhaps media interviews and conferences can help build better public relations while aligning values with goals.
Conferences Finally Made Their Big Comeback
In 2020 and 2021, during the pandemic, there was a lot of talk about the demise of in-person conferences. But this prediction, to paraphrase Mark Twain, has been greatly exaggerated. In fact, 2023 saw a massive surge in demand for conference speakers, and that shot up to the top of our priorities for executive visibility.
In 2024, we expect the in-person conference landscape to continue to rebound with many thought leadership “pillar” events retaking their position as the places for ideas to be shared and the future to be explored. And as always, these events make ideal venues for networking and relationship-building. So, if you’re not at your key industry conferences, or don’t feel like the ones your executives appear at deliver value, now is a great time to level up.
Sustainability and ESG Are Still Around – But in Different Ways
As we covered in a separate blog earlier this year, the narrative around environmental, social and governance issues and sustainable business practices is different from last year. Political backlash has made it less prominent; but investors and consumers are still pressing companies on it anyway.
In 2023, we saw the public conversation around sustainability move away from big sweeping pronouncements that often were aspirational to a quieter but more impactful focus on how companies can make a more concrete difference that drives value for stakeholders. We’ve worked with organizations this year to hone their ESG messaging when it comes to executive visibility and will keep doing so into the coming year.
Heading into 2024, the value of a robust executive visibility strategy goes much deeper than supporting business goals alone. We see it as supporting a “whole company” communications effort with leaders standing as active voices for both internal and external audiences eager to hear from them. And across issue responses, conference relations strategy and sustainability communications, these core principles remain the same – but times are changing. Make sure you’re not left behind in the new year.