How to face the public as a business leader
Facing the wider public has always been a challenge for some people, with public speaking being one the most common fears throughout our society. These days this is amplified further, with social and digital media allowing our words and thoughts to gain international attention, for better or for worse.
This can put a lot of pressure on business leaders, who are tasked with growing and nurturing a business, often under intense public scrutiny. There are a number of things leaders can do to ensure they are putting their best foot forward however, ensuring their company only gains attention for the right reasons.
Recognise the benefits
Good leaders need to be adept when it comes to handling public engagement. Whether it is through press releases or at seminars, effective CEOs and managers should be able to handle the pressure.
This is confirmed by a study produced by marketing research specialist Weber Shandwick, which found that effective public engagement skills are an integral quality of good CEOs. The firm’s research revealed that 81 per cent of executives believe CEOs need to have a public profile for their business to be well regarded.
Weber Shandwick also list the ways they believe CEOs and other leaders can build the public profile of their company. Up to 82 per cent of respondents believe that speaking at events can improve how a company is perceived.
Other options suggested by the firm include being available for news media, as well as represented on the company’s website and becoming a beacon of thought leadership by sharing news and insights.
CEOs and other business leaders need to recognise the value of brand transparency, and to foster this they should learn to trust their employees. Recruitment firm Manpower Group discussed this in a report regarding the nature of trust with reference to a company’s external profile.
The risk identified by the group include the possibility of sensitive or incorrect information being distributed freely in the public domain. According to Manpower Group, this view limits the interaction companies have with their customers, creating a relationship that is a monologue rather than a dialogue.
These risks can be mitigated with effective policing, ensuring staff are aware of the responsibilities they have when representing their company. Policies like this can be managed with HRMS software, which also allows for the management of training and other support services, meaning staff are always up to date with changes in regulations or procedures.
The former Chief Talent Officer at Netflix, Patty McCord, posted unique views on the topic in a Harvard Business Review article published in January of last year.
“If you’re careful to hire people who will put the company’s interests first, who understand and support the desire for a high-performance workplace, 97 per cent of your employees will do the right thing. Most companies spend endless time and money writing and enforcing HR policies to deal with problems the other 3 per cent might cause,” she explained.
Embrace social media
This one may be tough for some leaders to take seriously, but there is a certain inevitability to the proliferation of social media, with many companies choosing to use it to engage with customers or recruit new staff.
According to the 2014 Global CEO Survey produced by BRANDfog, social media use can go a long way to creating a sense of authenticity surrounding companies’ brands and their leaders. Two thirds of respondents believe that social media use is an essential part of the modern PR landscape, meaning businesses who ignore it are potentially missing out.
“In today’s hyper-connected, information-driven world, CEOs and senior executives alike are expected to have an active social presence. Brand image, brand trust and a company’s long-term success depend on it,” said BRANDfog CEO Ann Charles.