Executive Visibility: Why and How

15 03 2010

The  buzz-phrase “executive visibility” has garnered acceptance recently within the public relations industry. The head of any given organization (CEOs, COOs, CFOs, etc.) can speak volumes about their given company. People may wonder, “who is the decision maker in that organization?” or “what does this company stand for or represent?” By putting a high level executive on display, it shapes the publics perception of a given organization. By placing high level CEOs’ in the limelight it also provides positive publicity for the organization.

According to a recent study by famed PR firm Weber Shandwick, the most famed CEOs increased their visibility at top-tier conferences in 2010. The 96% increase has grown steadily since 2007. According to PR Newswire, “Weber Shandwick’s annual “Five-Star Conference” study examines the speaking engagements of CEOs and C-level executives from the world’s top 50 most admired companies at top-tier, or Five-Star, conferences.” The article then elaborates, “Despite this past year’s tough economy, executive scrutiny and limited budgets, top-level conferences continue to attract executives from the most respected organizations in the world.  Businesses are clearly hungry for channels to network with customers and disseminate content,” said Jennifer Risi, Executive Vice President of Weber Shandwick’s Global Strategic Media Group and creator of the company’s proprietary VOICEBOXX™ service offering, which identifies and secures executive speaking engagements to shape corporate agendas. “Without a doubt, speaking engagements are becoming an increasingly critical tool within the PR arsenal, helping CEOs and their senior executive bench address their strategic vision, stand apart from the competition, and build thought leadership.”

By placing top-level executives in the public eye, it creates visibility. This visibility helps to garner positive brand associations and brings their company into the industry’s forefront.

Increasingly popular many PR firms such as Stanton PR have begun offering media training for high level executives. The program they offer effectively trains executives to use the media efficiently with mock interviews and media workshops.

Return in Reputation has discussed Steve Jobs’ role as possibly the world’s most visible CEO. Jobs, the CEO of Apple, routinely participates in Apple’s highly publicized press conferences, he attends trade shows, and he tactfully answers media questions. Apple’s utilization of providing executive visibility is a perfect example of placing an executive in the limelight successfully. The article goes on to discuss how the new GM chairman, Ed Whitacre, has been presented to the media as a “brand repairman”. Whitacre has been presented in this manner to add brand support to GM in such a trying time for their company.

Weber Merritt has begun placing executives in the media, again, specifically at various trade conferences that relate to their clients. Many of their clients fall within the healthcare industry umbrella.

It is no surprise that a company’s leaders can be their most valuable brand ambassadors. Profiling the way different PR tactics puts these executives in the limelight, specifically at trade-related conferences in front key audiences, gives a solid foundation and shows that a company is willing to be open to the public. This PR tactic I feel is often overlooked, yet still highly important, relevant, and effective.

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