The critical link between Public Relations and company CEO's

Media and public relations professionals play an important part in presenting a company’s public image. They are tasked with creating and distributing information about a company’s products and services as well as responding to media inquiries and crisis situations when they arise.

Implementing a PR strategy is key to an organization’s success. Public Relations works closely with the advertising and marketing departments to ensure a consistent message is put out and aligned with the company’s vision.

Most departments within a large organization follow a hierarchy to which they report. It usually starts with a manager, then a director, then a VP. One department where this should not be the case is public relations. PR technicians and PR managers need to have direct contact with a company CEO. There must be two-way communication between them with no mid-management layer.

Why Public Relations and CEO's must communicate directly

CEO’s have a lot of responsibility. One of their primary responsibilities is determining the direction of the company. PR professionals need to disseminate that information to the general public clearly and timely. Having a clear strategy and line of communication with the press means that a company can stay ahead of its competition and respond to issues quickly. Let’s break down the top 3 reasons a CEO needs direct communication with their PR team.

Top three reasons CEOs need to speak with public relations:

Consistent messaging

How many times have you seen a politician make a statement, only to be contradicted by their PR team a few days later? It happens all the time. When leaders pass critical information “down the line” of organizational hierarchy, miscommunications are bound to happen. CEOs can avoid this by talking with the PR team directly. Press releases can be dictated and read back to the CEO so he or she can hit the desired bullet points. It also avoids confusion and miscommunication and allows for information to be released to the public when the CEO finds it most advantageous.

Alignment with vision

The public relations department doesn’t always have the big picture in mind. Sometimes they are focused on avoiding crisis or coordinating with advertising to launch a new service. It’s easy to get distracted by the many moving parts of a large organization. When CEOs meet with the PR team, they can help the department stay focused on the big picture. Understanding the CEO’s vision and the company’s vision allows the public relations manager to focus the PR efforts in a way that highlights that vision to the public.

Handling a crisis

Every company will face a crisis from time to time. Large, publicly traded companies are often vulnerable to everything from defective products to being attached by politicians. Companies could try to avoid taking with the press and ignoring problems in the past. In today’s fast-paced media environment, hiding from a problem is almost impossible. A properly trained PR professional knows how to respond to a crisis situation. They typically have a playbook they follow and have prepared for the crisis well in advance. CEOs and the PR manager must be in close contact during times of crisis. A misstep or miscommunication with the press could make it look as though the CEO is lying or providing incomplete information. Once the CEO loses the media’s trust, it’s very hard to recover. The CEO and PR manager must be in lockstep with their information.