Whether your organization needs to weather public scrutiny, build a name for itself or just make a better connection with customers and stakeholders, it’s crucial that you have a “company face.” The “faceless corporation” is a cliché but gets at an important truth: any organization will fare better reputationally if the average person can put a face to its name, and that’s why mere company branding isn’t enough; you need to get literal “faces” – your executive spokespeople – out in front of people. But to gain public trust, they need to be guided by a positive, purposeful story and a meaningful executive communications strategy.
This is the essence of why executive communications strategy is so important to any broader branding effort today. We live in a world where news – and outrage – are 24/7, and where there’s historically low trust in institutions of all types. It’s not enough to get your brand’s logo out there; you need executives out there telling an appealing story about your company’s actions, goals and overall purpose to distinguish yourself, both in news and social media. The public relates to actual people – as long as they’re likable and saying something positive.
So, what are the steps you should take to launch and manage an executive communications strategy?
Align on Your Executive Communications Strategy’s Story
Before putting your executives into a more public-facing role, you need to be sure they have a narrative to amplify. Of course, an organization’s story has to be based on something it’s actually doing. But often it takes creativity and reflection to bring all the threads of what you’re doing for your industry or the wider world together into a single picture of your value. You also should link your story to important trends related to business innovation, technology or social issues. You need to demonstrate that you’re staying ahead of the curve and building value for stakeholders while staying true to your core mission and values. What all this means for your story depends on who you are and what you’re trying to do, but having that story is the essential first step.
Identify Who Will Represent Your Brand and Narrative
Once you have your executive communications strategy and brand story, you need your faces. A lot of care should go into the decision to position certain executives for media, including their expertise and accomplishments, their ability to present a clear and persuasive argument and their overall demeanor. In some cases, you’ll have a born media start in your executive ranks. In other cases, you’ll need to rely on a partner like Stern Strategy Group to provide media training. But what’s important is that you have the right people representing your brand.
Be Consistent and Show You Can Be Trusted
We would caution against thinking a good story and a charismatic executive will get your organization through any trial or tribulation, or firmly establish your positive brand reputation, without concrete actions that back up their words. Ultimately, your own actions will determine whether you can keep the public’s trust. Consistency in how you run your organization and address issues of public concern will reinforce your overall executive communications strategy, which in turn will highlight your constructive efforts.
But if you do have a story to tell and a great executive to tell it, make sure you contact us to help you build your executive communications strategy.