A couple of PR-related studies released earlier this month underscore two major challenges that PR pros now face, one that is tactical in nature and the other that is in a more strategic vein.
The first study is another reminder that, in a digital age, every company is a media company and PR pros must now add “quasi network programming executive” to their job description.
The study, which was conducted by PR agency Weber Shandwick, found that the percentage of CEOs using online video to promote their company narratives grew to 40% in 2012, compared with just 18% in 2010.
Growth in video is nearly evenly divided between CEOs appearing in videos on company websites and on corporate YouTube channels, according to the study, which is based on publicly visible activities of CEOs in the world’s largest 50 companies
Indeed, as a growing number of CEOs get ready for their close-up the onus is on communications execs to create and/or produce the kind of online-video programming that will put their boss in the best possible light.
Does the CEO manage by walking the floor? Produce an online-video that shows how he or she interacts with employees and focus on the sense of camaraderie that the CEO strives on. Maybe your CEO tells great anecdotes about your company’s products and services? Pick a cozy, inviting setting for the CEO to tell a story, and splice the video with some B-roll of customer testimonials.
The creative in producing online videos is wide open (depending on how much budget you can commit). But that should be the easy part once you get buy-in from the CEO. The more salient question is whether PR pros can seize the momentum within online video while simultaneously building on their relationships with C-level execs.
The other study presents more nettlesome challenges for PR pros: how to make their companies more trustworthy and transparent. According to the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer, which was released last week, business leaders are trusted by less than 50% in 16 of 26 markets, while government leaders are trusted by less than half in 21 of 26 markets.
The online survey sampled 26,000 general population respondents with an oversample of 5,800 informed publics ages 25-64 across 26 countries.
“We’re clearly experiencing a crisis in leadership,” said Richard Edelman, president-CEO, Edelman, in a statement. “Business and governmental leaders must change their management approach and become more inclusive by seeking the input of employees, consumers, activists and experts such as academics, and adapting to their feedback. They must also pass the test of radical transparency.”
“Radical transparency” is something that PR pros need to aspire to; they’re in a position to develop and execute the communications strategy among all of the people (management, employees, customers and prospects) who have a stake in making sure their companies are more transparent and trustworthy.
PR pros can find many different routes to convince the public that they’re in the business of doing the right thing. Heck, one vehicle could be an online video featuring your CEO explaining what your company is doing to be more transparent. Talk about the perfect PR marriage of the tactical and the strategic.
Follow Matthew Schwartz: @mpsjourno1