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How to talk to the C-Suite about Public Relations

pr public relations Sep 01, 2022

The majority of PR professionals will tell you: public relations can be difficult to explain to the c-suite, or other business executives. It’s often nuanced, layered with soft skills, and doesn’t always have the most linear measurement to track progress. The frustrating part is that it does have the capacity to create massive business impact. 

So oftentimes, PR professionals are tasked with not only having to first sell executives on the value of PR, but then follow that up with tangible results. Not surprising, it’s also difficult to build rapport with the C-Suite themselves as a new hire. They are busy people and too commonly, executive management's primary point of contact with the PR team is during crisis management. Consider the ways that you could build a more consistent relationship with management, whether that be regular meetings or monthly reports. You’ll need to prove your PR approach is worth the C-Suite’s investment both financially and with time. 

Think about what is important to your executive - and start there. For example, is it broadening audiences? The desire for positive press to attract investors? Or, is it straight monetary growth? No matter their goal, it’s then time to bring their vision to life. 

Start by educating your c-suite on the specifics of PR and your approach. Maintaining an optimistic and tenacious attitude about your work will also show the c-suite your dedication. Show them that they picked the right candidate by not just following through with the responsibilities tasked, but going the extra mile. Explain how and why your strategy has the power to fulfill their company goals by concretely describing your PR method. Here are a few helpful starting points:  

Storytelling is Important

Brand storytelling is crucial to every business. It is important for the public to pair realistic stories and lives to the given product or service. Presenting strong narratives often wields the power to create a strong customer base, as the audience feels a sense of relatability and connection to the brand.

But it can be tricky relaying this importance to the c-suite when presenting your new social strategy or media contact. Align your goals with theirs to show how applicable your skills and plans are for the future of their company. Sharing what you hope to build for them long term can bridge strong business relationships as you work to fit executive needs. 

Takeaway: By working with your executive team to create strong company narratives, you are creating a sense of relatability and connection to the brand for the public, which will result in customer growth.

It’s Relational, Not Transactional

An important point to remember (and relay to management) is that PR is not transactional, but relational. While constructing strong relationships with the public and media is an ongoing process that requires dedication, it is also the foundation necessary for a successful company.  While transactional relationships are short-term and finite, PR is the strategic process of building long lasting, mutually beneficial connections with other brands, journalists, and even influencers. 

Developing media relations will aid your company’s success not just now, but into the future. You never know what connection may land significant publicity or a great deal for your company. This is a crucial part of the job for the c-suite to understand. PR teams are more than megaphones, as the company’s reputation often weighs on their shoulders. 

Explore the media world and think hard about the opportunities that could grow from specific connections. Consider speaking with the c-suite if you see potential for a beneficial relationship. This is a great way to mingle your expertise with the goals of the executive team. Identifying new opportunities shows the c-suite that you are not only well-equipped for the position, but that you are actively seeking ways to gain positive traction for the company. 

Takeaway: By building long-lasting relationships in the PR world, you are managing a relational strategy that will set your company up for continued exposure and thus greater success. 

How to Provide

No matter the company, you can bet that the c-suite is typically results-oriented. One positive way to build a productive and positive relationship is to monitor the results of your methods. Showcase media and data performance tracking to prove that the work you are putting in is producing sustained, meaningful results. Presenting tangible data and statistics will aid in building trust between you and the c-suite as they see the effectiveness of having you on their team. Ask them what metrics are important to them and make sure you have clarity on what they deem as success, so you can either measure against it or level against it.

Takeaway: Track your PR progress and present your findings to the c-suite as a way to show how beneficial your work is to the company.

Overall, don’t forget that you are the trained communicator in this relationship. Utilize your skills to connect with the c-suite on why PR is so important and how it pertains to every aspect of the company. Building a consistent, professional relationship with executive management is an ensured route to producing impressive results in your role.

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