Why Executive Positioning Matters

 

Who has time for the seemingly trivial and vanity-fueled pursuit of personal branding when you’ve got a business to run? Executive positioning, or the strategic art of defining, promoting, and leveraging an executive’s personal brand, rarely tops the C suite to-do list. The ROI on executive positioning is indirect; dollars and cents logic might dictate that it’s a luxury businesses just can’t afford.

Yet now more than ever, executive positioning is crucial.

Consider today’s sociopolitical climate. The ubiquity of social media has set new precedents for personal visibility and self expression; today it’s normal to actively and publicly share your point of view. And now more than ever it feels important to speak up. Polarizing politics and social issues amplify our differences, moving us to define and defend our beliefs in the public arena. This feeling is reinforced by the fact that many of the most profound, socially impactful, culturally altering moments in recent history have started with someone coming forward to speak up.

This new era belongs to the visibly purpose-driven.

This applies to brands just as it applies to individuals. In today’s world of brand activism, companies are expected to define their beliefs, to be vocal and transparent about those beliefs, and to act in accordance with them. Purpose-driven companies like Patagonia, Google, and Nike are setting the standard. Consumers now expect brands to be purpose-driven, and are less trusting of those who are not. The enlightened consumer doesn’t want to be sold to, they want to share a set of principles and beliefs. In the aftermath of recent, serious breaches of public trust, customers are rightfully skeptical. In order to trust brands, consumers must agree with the brand’s principals.

And companies are recognizing that brand purpose is more than a stunt, it’s a driver of business growth. Increasingly, consumers are making purchase decisions based on a brand’s political position and stance on social issues. Purpose-led brands report higher customer and employee acquisition and retention rates.

Now, in order for a company to be genuinely and successfully purpose-driven, that purpose must first be embraced by the company itself—its employees, starting with the company’s leadership. Successful purpose-driven companies are led by leaders who embody company principals. These leaders act as the primary brand evangelists both within the company and externally, effectively communicating and representing the brand’s position. They are visible and apparently aligned with and invested in the company’s core values.

In today’s cultural climate, executives who are not strategically aligned with the companies they lead, who are not visible, active proponents of company causes, and who are not outspoken risk compromising brand trust and, to that end, are a liability. Only when a company’s purpose is aligned with the purpose of its employees and the purpose of the consumers buying the company’s products can you have an authentic brand movement. And that alignment is contingent on successful executive positioning.

Executive positioning isn’t about inflating an executive’s sense of self importance; it isn’t an exercise in vanity, nor is it an exercise done in vain. If ever executive positioning was a nice-to-have, in today’s world it has certainly become a need-to-have.

A few tips for doing it well:

Craft your story

  • Determine where you stand on relevant subjects. The stronger and clearer your stance, the better. In order to gain public trust, it’s not enough just to stand as a company representative. You’ve got to be relatable, human. Your interests must include, but also extend beyond company values.
  • Build in time and establish an active channel of communication with your PR team for sharing your evolving thoughts and opinions. Often times, executives have great thoughts that never end up being leveraged. Share your ideas with your PR team in real-time so they can pick out the gems, decide which ideas to share, and determine where to dig deeper.

Master your storytelling

  • Work with your PR team to polish your presentation, prepare for interviews, and train for interactions with the media. With preparation and training comes confidence.

Tell your story

  • Many executives are advised to only speak to the media when you have good news to share and to stick to the script. We take a different approach. We help executives exercise transparency when things aren’t going as planned, fostering a better, more genuine relationship with the media that pays off in dividends in the long run. This kind of media relationship builds a shared sense of understanding between executives and members of the press; when things do  go wrong, the press is more willing to be understanding.
  • Work with your PR team to develop a strong social media presence. For executives who are too busy for active social media, consider letting your PR agency manage your accounts for you.

     

 

Interested in learning more about what executive positioning can do for you and your brand? Get in touch. Karbo Com specializes in executive positioning services including:

  • Executive storytelling
  • Executive media relations
  • Media training
  • Presentation/speaking opportunity prep
  • Executive social media management
  • Executive thought leadership campaigns
  • Executive byline articles

Contact courtney [at] karbocom [dot] com to learn more.

 

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