Trillion Dollar Comms?

By Niki Wheeler, Director, Launch,

I’ve had two decades of working alongside CEOs across sectors, but listening to Eric Schmidt, former Chairman of Google, talking about his work with the legendary coach, Bill Campbell at The London Business Forum this week and the mists cleared.

Schmidt and a panel of Silicon Valley luminaries talked about the need for bosses to manage their time and balance their public vs private roles. This is critical in the tech world where the role of CEO and COO are pretty impossible to divide.

Indeed, comms falls slap bang in the middle of this public, external remit. In a fast-moving space where leaders are charged with ‘systemising the good stuff to make it happen faster,’ encouraging a globetrotting CEO to prioritise telling their ever shifting story to the media is an ongoing time management battle.

And a 24/7 news environment has increased the pressure. The need to prioritise media engagement is something gifted high achievers (who might not be natural communicators) understand and want to score highly at.

However, this requires prep and the flexibility to meet deadlines despite the small matters of travel, coaching their teams and monetising the ideas that will help them stay ahead of the curve which already sit on their shoulders.

Yet, in a world where it is an organisation and not an individual who pays your invoices, the role of a comms pro has to be ensuring that the PR programme highlights that while leadership is strong, the client institution and its product, service or mission are the real stars of the show.

In this uncertain climate where executive change is a certainty, this org-wide perspective is particularly important.

And while the principles of setting big goals, constantly recruiting and using coaching to promote superstars from within utterly resonated in the Trillion Dollar session – in our sector, it feels as though the roles of CEO and COO can sit separately.

For us, the sales and marketing and operational sides of what we do rely on clear goals and great peer relationships to deliver results.

Photo by lalo Hernandez on Unsplash

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