7 rules for providing value to the C-suite
Nov 30, 2016
A few weeks ago, I had the chance to sit on a Central Michigan Public Relations Society of America panel about the ROI of public relations and providing value to the C-suite.
When I was prepping, I kept noticing parallels – providing PR value is universal. Whether it’s the value we’re providing our clients’ customers or the value we’re providing to the C-suite, value is value is value is value is value.
And I tried to distill that value down to seven “rules” to consider.
1. Know your audience. Understand what the C-suite values. How? Ask them. Questions such as, what would success look like? Or what would demonstrate success to you? can help you glean the C-suite’s priorities and preferences.
2. Understand the goals and impact. You can bet the C-suite cares about both, and they’re not always the same thing. The goal could be to increase donations, but why? What do donations allow you to do? That’s your impact, and both should always be tied back to the organization’s strategic goals.
3. Measure twice. Measuring your PR tactic – increase in Facebook engagement or quantity of media hits – is not the same as measuring your impact. You have to do both. Tactical public relations measurement can help you adapt and adjust accordingly mid-campaign. Your impact can and should shape the organization and how it provides goods or services to its audiences.
4. Tell the story. Numbers are great, but our true value as PR people lies in our ability to give the context and meaning behind the numbers. Your analysis is your value to the CEO. Yes, share the numbers. But you also need to illustrate why those numbers matter and what you’re going to do as a result of them. Analytics aren’t the same as analysis. Analytics are the data that can inform analysis, but analysis is the why. Why does this matter? You can also show impact by sharing the things you hear anecdotally that demonstrate you raised awareness or changed an attitude, for example. It’s not a perfect method, but it can help supplement when a lack of budget makes it hard to measure your impact.
5. Be good at your job. What does it mean to be good at your job? You need to be the one to answer that, but I can tell you that you’ll never be a credible authority figure if you’re sloppy with the basics. Other characteristics I value? Follow through. Be smart. And listen harder.
6. Show respect. Respect is a two-way street. Respect hierarchy, but also recognize your role within it. Know your value. Your boss is paying you to be there. Be cognizant of your value and cost and educate people about the value of the human capital and the human cost of different actions and tactics.
7. Be indispensable. “Now be sensible. From what I hear, you’ve made yourself indispensable.” How? See one through six above. Show you’re smart by answering questions before they’re asked. Show you listen by analyzing conversations and anticipating needs. Show you understand the C-suite by developing solutions that speak to your audience (the C-suite) and their audiences (customers, clients, boards, donors and anyone else they ultimately answer to). Know your value to provide value to others.