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This is the era of the highly visible CEO. As they become the face of the company, their personal brand becomes closely entwined with that of the organisation and positioning them as thought leaders or influencers helps steer the organisation into becoming pioneers in the industry. Seeing the leadership take control of the narrative also generates more confidence among consumers, employees and stakeholders, attracting people who connect with the personality of the leader. 

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer report for 2021, around 86% of people expect CEOs to publicly address societal challenges whether it’s the impact of the pandemic or issues like job automation. CEOs who have an active social media presence are viewed as more approachable and they invariably help shape the perception about the company, especially during crisis management. Consistent engagement with the public through social platforms ensures that when there’s a crisis, there’s already an established platform from where leaders can clear the air and become more credible.

So how can your CEO become a thought influencer for your brand? First off, it’s important to remember that the message and the delivery are both crucial and for this, there has to be an excellent communications or PR team in place. They will be able to help you leverage your CEOs personal brand to ensure that not only can they create brand awareness but also brand loyalty.

1.    Establish their personal brand – When CEOs have an identifiable personal brand, it can be easier to make it an extension of their corporate brand. To make this happen, the communications team needs to have a better understanding about the CEO’s interests, their passions and their vision so they can accurately align these personal elements with the organization’s goals and vision. This humanizes the company and helps create brand loyalty.

2.    Create a healthy discussion – It’s important that CEOs are consistent in their external messaging so that they don’t alienate their target audience. The communications or PR team needs to dig through relevant topics and ensure that the CEO can bring their unique perspective to topical trends, which can lead to a healthy discussion and bring plenty of visibility to your company.  

3.    Ensure your CEOs are media-trained – CEOs have to be media-trained. This isn’t just to prevent any sort of faux pas but to also improve their delivery skills. Once they get more comfortable sharing their perspectives, they will be able to have more organic and natural conversations with a variety of audiences, whether it is a press conference or a one-on-one media interview.

4.    Work on getting visibility – Most often, visibility cannot be earned but has to be paid for, and that’s perfectly all right. Paid media is a proactive attempt at bringing more customers and creating visibility. This can be done through sponsored content on media websites, social media and blogs. Important and relevant news stories can be leveraged in a way that creates more interest in your organisation.

Transforming your CEO into a thought influencer is not an overnight job. Consider it a marathon and not a sprint. It takes time to establish credibility and visibility, so make sure that everyone is aware of the status quo, and that they’re in it for the long run. While waiting for media to engage, the communication team should continue to look for opportunities where the CEO’s perspectives can be showcased. They should also look for public events where the CEO can speak or be able to weigh in on certain news stories. By providing value on social media with their expertise, CEOs can become the much needed human element of an organisation.