Earning Credibility with the C-Suite: Demonstrate your understanding of the business

When executives decide to invest money into PR they do so with the idea that PR will help their business achieve certain objectives. The C-suite values business results, and showing how PR maps to business objectives is critical if you want to earn credibility and prove PR’s value. To do this you first need a clear understanding of the company’s business goals. Focusing on the company’s goals will help you produce the results executives desire so that your campaign is deemed successful.

 Sometimes PR programs produce results that aren’t considered to be extremely high priorities for the business. This happens when PR objectives are not aligned with business priorities. In this scenario, PR pros may wonder why they’re not seeing love from the executive team for all of PR’s accomplishments. But, executives wonder why PR isn’t achieving the most important objectives. To avoid this type of situation you need to make sure that business objectives are clearly communicated from the very start, and that PR objectives map to business goals.

 It’s important for PR professionals to ask smart questions in order to identify goals and priorities. Here are some examples of smart questions to ask at the beginning of each campaign:

 • What are your primary objectives for the company?

• What do you hope to accomplish within the next 18 months?

• What are the most important initiatives the company is undertaking during the

next 18 months to achieve your revenue goals?

• Is there a particular product line that you’re focusing on to achieve revenue goals?

• What are your top three priorities moving forward?

• How do you see PR as being of value here?

• How can we help you achieve your goals?

Using the knowledge you’ve gained by asking these questions you can create targeted PR objectives. This is your chance to show executives you “get it” so be sure to give quality attention to the PR objectives. Appropriate and thoughtful PR objectives will demonstrate your understanding of the client’s business goals and assure the executive team that the PR program is based on their desired business outcomes. It will also ensure that your PR accomplishments will produce the business results that the C-suite most wants to see.

Earning Credibility with the C-Suite: For PR pros, credibility is never a given.

As a PR professional, do you ever feel like the C-suite expects you to “knock it out of the park” every time you step up to the plate? Even the best sluggers in baseball can’t do that. But for PR pros, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past, or who you are, you’re judged by the results you deliver every time you’re at bat. There’s constant pressure from executives to deliver more results better and faster. If you can’t, well, then you’re traded for someone who can. In the PR world, it doesn’t matter how good you are at your craft, credibility is not a given with the executive suite. It’s something that has to continuously be earned.

So, how do you earn respect from the executive team? Well, doing great PR is a start. Let’s face it, creating a winning strategy, executing it well, and analyzing your results will help you earn points with execs. But, to really earn credibility you have to take it a step further and make sure that your executive team clearly understands the value that PR is bringing to the table. This is an area where a lot of PR pros struggle and it doesn’t help that many executives are skeptical about PR’s ability to impact business results.

To prove that you deserve to be in the game you need to show executives a connection between PR and business achievements. You want to give executives evidence of PR’s successes, and do it in a way that is meaningful to them. Prepare charts, graphs, and reports that illustrate the business goals that have been met, and then demonstrate how PR was responsible for those achievements. In theory this may sound simple, but perfectly successful results generating PR firms are fired all the time simply because they don’t communicate program results in a way that makes sense to the C-suite.

In our series of upcoming blog posts “Earning Credibility with the C-Suite” we’ll talk more about some of the specific ways in which PR professionals can prove the value of PR and gain credibility for their programs. For now, here are a few of our suggestions:

• Demonstrate your understanding of the business

• Gather baseline data and set measurable goals

• Measure PR outcomes and outputs

• Execute and then analyze

• Improve and perform beyond expectations

• Package PR results the right way

Watch for more on these topics in our upcoming posts. And remember, for PR pros credibility is never a given. That’s why it is so important to do everything possible to convince the C-suite of PR’s value.

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