Small businesses and large often leap to the conclusion that their CEO should be the face of their company. Are they right in assuming they are putting their best ‘face’ forward? Granted the CEO is a powerful PR weapon and communication is paramount to the reputation of the company, yet should a CEO be concentrating on running the business rather than standing in the public spotlight?
Put a bunch of CEOs in a room and they will largely agree that they are the ‘stewards of reputation’. A company’s reputation and brand are synonymous, and in the eye of the CEO, is one of the most important assets of the organisation. As the manager of the reputation, CEOs and business owners are placing themselves at the forefront of company communications, giving their organisation a tangible personality. Personal branding is growing in popularity and playing a larger role in direct customer communications. By projecting human attributes on brands, your reputation will be founded on the experience your customers have with your organisations spokesperson.
If you have been asking yourself if your CEO should remain invisible, perhaps the answer is no. Yet not everyone is a natural in front of the camera. Media training in public speaking is paramount for anyone representing the business in the public arena. One wrong word and your PR department will be working overtime on damage control. It’s not simply what one says though, you will be judged on your appearance, your behaviour and the places you frequent too. Imagine seeing the CEO of Weight Watchers Australia in a branded company car rolling through the drive-in at McDonalds. The correlation between the organisation’s message and the action is in direct conflict. A simple snap shot of this posted on Facebook could cause a viral meltdown for the company. It only takes the slightest of ‘slips’ and the market value of your brand could plummet…starting to reconsider who you will be putting forward to represent your business?
To think that you only need to promote your business externally would be naïve. Employees are keen to hear from their leader. The chief of an organisation is representative of the values of the business and employees will align their company values with their senior personnel. However if your CEO is a highly paid executive of a large organisation, they may be too removed from the average Joe. Frontline employees may be more relatable in communicating customer related experiences, but how do you transform your employees into company evangelists?
Those who have some marketing nouse, are professional and are natural leaders who can build effective relationships with others are ideal candidates for the role of representing your business. It also helps if they are adept at thinking on their feet and have an affable personality. Inherently your leadership group will possess these attributes, so you may find the talent within to generate a symbol of your company. Many other organisations look externally for their ‘promoter’. While campaign ambassadors bear great credibility and personify your company’s values, can they exhibit your core values and connect with all your key stakeholders, both internally and externally?
Organisations spend millions on marketing gadgets and collateral to promote their business. They sometimes fail to realise that one of their greatest marketing tools is their staff. Generating leverage from your biggest asset and putting a ‘real’ face on the company is not always easy. Your challenge in achieving this will be dependent on how well you educate your people on the objective of your brand. Once realised, it is onwards and upwards for your workforce to communicate to the rest of the world what it is that defines your business….so don’t be faceless! Invest in your people and they will invest in you.