Monday, November 20, 2006

Think Like A High-Profile CEO When Watching The Bottom Line

Media coverage of some of the nation’s leading CEOs recently was analyzed by Factivia, a part of Dow Jones Reuters Business Interactive. GM’s Rick Wagoner received the most coverage, but more importantly the media portrayed him as a leader associated with turnaround and leadership.

For someone like me, who counsels CEOs on the value of effective communication in creating positive corporate outcomes, the study revealed much more.

  • Think about the value of a CEO’s time and what it would cost to re-communicate what’s already been said. Depending on what you read, CEOs indicate communication accounts for upwards of 40 percent of their time. Or worse, if the communication was not received accurately initially, which led to costly missteps, how would that impact the bottom line? In the case of the media, if a CEO is not communicating messages on strategy, costly misrepresentation and confusion often are the result. Employees, investors, analysts and other key stakeholders act and react to what they see or don’t see in the media.
  • Regardless of a CEO’s profile, every company leader functions in an environment covered by media who can influence perception. For those CEOs of smaller companies who believe no media coverage is good media coverage, remember this: media coverage can work to the advantage as well as the disadvantage of your company. Therefore, not engaging the media can stymie the growth of your company as much as harmful, negative coverage.
  • The higher the profile, the more a CEO pays attention to perceptions. Fortuity does not lead to consistent messaging in media coverage. Preparation for media interviews with a clear purpose in mind leads to consistent coverage and perceptions.
  • CEOs of every magnitude can learn a lot from watching the best and the brightest. Many CEOs frequently study their high-profile counterparts, but it’s my sense they don’t realize these superstar CEOs work diligently at becoming excellent communicators.

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