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Is Your Management Team Visible?

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Ford Kanzler
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Why Wouldn't They?
Ford Kanzler   9/12/2012 2:31:58 PM
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Several reasons that I can immediately think of:

- Fear of saying the wrong thing or not knowing the answers to any possible question

- Thinking they have to be like Steve Jobs or TJ Rogers to be a spokesperson

- Fear of being misquoted and of "the media" who they may see as the enemy

- Belief that the product is so wonderful, customers will beat a path to their web site (and therefore)

- Doesn't see involvement in PR as a valuable use of their time

- No one around to remind them that corportate spokespersonship is a management responsibility or to show them opportunities for action

- Introverted personality that fears being in the spotlight (But then how did they get into upper management in the first place?)

- Belief that putting out news releases on a regular basis (like once a week) constitutes effective PR

- Adherance to an ancient command & control management style that wants everything totally buttoned down, along with...

- Fearing exposure of misdeeds or incompetancy

There are undoubtedly others.

Mr. Roques
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Re: Is Your Management Team Visible?
Mr. Roques   9/12/2012 11:14:29 AM
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I completelyy agree with you in that if you're not talking about your company, some else is - or in the worst case, no one is. If they have the opportunity to make noise about the new things the company is doing, or the old things it continues to do well, why wouldn't they?

Ford Kanzler
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Monitoring spokesperson interviews
Ford Kanzler   9/11/2012 2:48:00 PM
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Bolaji - From the PR pro's side of the desk, there are plenty of spokespersons who need prep AND someone to assure the interview goes approximately where its supposed to, not down a rathole or worse. Unfortunately there are tech business leaders in high visiblity roles that don't take guidance well or at all, are unwiling to prepare and who are apt to go off the deep end (particularly hazardous with public companies) and who clearly need monitoring. Some companies even requre a third person in the room for legal or SEC reasons.

I certainly agree that a PR person shouldn't be actively injecting responses. They can help by prompting the interviewee or even the reporter on topics that need discussing, as in, "Remember you wanted to mention such-and-such."I've seen lots of interviews going off on a tangent that I brought back on topic. Nobody has ever squawked about that.

As a journalist you certainly have the right to ask any questions you desire but the interviewee isn't required to respond, as I'm sure you've noticed :). Execs often have to be reminded of that and also kept in safe and knowledgeable territory. I strongly suggest PR pros have a iimited, facilitative role. Editing intereviewee's comments on-the-fly is likely a bad idea for several reasons. However, spokespersons should not make a habit of "going commado" with media interviews. If you'd worked in PR you'd agree. I'm certain you've seen your share of poorly prepared spokespersons. Some tech leaders need all the help they can get before and during and interview. Experienced PR pros know how to help from both the speakers' and journalists' perspectives. Hopefully, interviewing practice breeds speaker effectiveness, but not always.

An added value PR pros can play, is taking notes about promises to provide requested info or next steps (like a follow-up call to the interviewee), noting prospective story topics, and being the timekeeper, since most often both participants' time is limited. Can't do that if you're not in the room or on the conference call and actively listening.

Bolaji Ojo
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Re: The Visibility Quotient
Bolaji Ojo   9/9/2012 5:43:42 PM
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Ford, I appreciate the extra comments. Just one quick comment on the quote: "PR is too important to leave to only PR pros." I can tell you that PR pros (sorry) tend to mess up their own PR work for clients. When I do interviews I hate to have PR folks around because they edit verbal comments made by their clients and make the client look incompetent.

The impression typically given is that the executive needs handholding. If the PR pros want to create the best impression, they should prepare the executive way before and let them do the talking. Interjecting comments or correcting comments by the executives is really bad but PR pros don't seem to realize this.

The best PR pros do their thing way before trotting out the executives. When the executive hosts an interview without needing a handler, the rating is higher.

SP
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Supply Network Guru
Is Your Management Team Visible?
SP   9/9/2012 12:45:25 AM
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Agreed. In the company where management executives are well spoken in forums and speakers in conferences I guess the company culture also improves. Steve was just a great inspiration. I think the more you are visible in the industry it helps to imporve contact and helps in increasing your brand value.

Ford Kanzler
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Re: Management Team Visible?
Ford Kanzler   9/7/2012 9:58:54 PM
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Thank you (Gracias!)  Mario - Havng a management team that's connected with their market rather than locked up in an ivory tower is paramount to communications and marketing success. They need to be informed, public, vocal and active. PR can broker opportunities for management if the team is willing to engage. This and other relavant topics are discussed at length in my book - "Connecting the Mind and Voice of Business" - http://www.amazon.com/Connecting-Mind-Voice-Business-Marketing/dp/1457506645 - It compiles well over 30 years of tech marketing and business communications experience. 'Hope you'll enjoy and benefit from reading it.

mario8a
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Management Team Visible?
mario8a   9/7/2012 7:17:58 PM
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I like # 4

It's amazing how a CEO will twist the true to empower or motivate the company, "we are the leaders on the market, we have done better than our competitor in such region or being the tip of the spear in such technology or blue ocean market"

It takes some skills to give bad news withoutpointing fingers but instead to show it as agreat area for growth and opportunity.

anyway, great post, I enjoyed reading it.

Mario Ochoa

Ford Kanzler
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The Visibility Quotient
Ford Kanzler   9/7/2012 10:54:21 AM
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Bolaji & Barbara - There are some things only the CEO can do as a spokesperson. A WSJ interview would be an example. However, the entire management team and others with special expertise and experience can also participate as speakers, writers (bloggers) and interviewees. The PR team should create opportunities up and down the organization for a variety of players. This can be the essence of thought leadership and market engagement strategies.

Yes. A company can overdo its PR efforts. This frankly happens rarely. The HP example was one where a single person was perhaps too much in the limelight. We don't know all the facts of that situation. I recall Apple also having overloaded the media with publicity to the point where editorial people were mentioning, "If you're from Apple, don't call on this." But that's not been my typical experience or of most other PR pros. Getting management teams to wake up to the idea that being visible, outspoken and involved is usually a challenge. When they do dive in enthusiastically, greater marketing and communications success usually results. After all, as the old expression goes, "Nobody sells anything until somebody says something." Corporate leadership needs to be in the thick of storytelling and marketing. Another idea is, "PR is too important to leave to only PR pros."

Barbara Jorgensen
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Visibility
Barbara Jorgensen   9/7/2012 8:51:19 AM
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Great post, Ford. I think there is also a time-management element involved. At one company I am familiar with, the CEO was out meeting customers; speaking to the media; and spending a lot of time with analysts. At some point, they had to offload the investor relations stuff to someone else. But you are absolutely right: a highly visible executive can do a lot of good for a company's image.

Bolaji Ojo
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Too Little vs. Too Much Visibility
Bolaji Ojo   9/7/2012 8:08:44 AM
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Ford, The case you made about management visibility is compelling. Is there such a thing as too much visibility, though? When a company's top executive is suddenly all over town and in the media all the time, there's the possibility industry observers and investors would begin to wonder if the person had enough time to manage the enterprise itself.

I can recall one example. When Carly Fiorina was CEO and chairman at Hewlett-Packard and the company was trying to buy Compaq, she was in the news so much trying to defend the deal that I couldn't help but think this contributed to the decline of HP. A top executive has to energize the investment community but must never forget to rally the internal troop too.



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