Why CEO Thought Leadership is Critical to Any PR Plan


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Written by Lydia Vargo, Senior Director of Strategic Accounts at ChicExecs

Our digital-first world puts a premium on trust and authority. But in the crowded beauty and fashion niches, brands are struggling to meet consumer demands for quality, transparency, and frequency.

When it comes to building customer trust in the age of mobile and endless scrolling, brands are feeling the squeeze. Lifestyle PR professionals need to leverage all resources to build brand awareness, including internal experts. Most often this involves finding story and promotional opportunities for the company founder and CEO. Although their leadership is important for running daily operations, they can also serve a critical role in your PR plan. Cut through the clutter and make a statement with your audience through the power of thought leadership.

When we talk about thought leadership, we usually think of it as a tactic for corporate businesses. But with the landscape of PR and social media changing, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle companies can use this same framework to secure new ways of gaining the attention of key audiences.

After all, today’s consumer doesn’t only want to know about the latest product launch, they want to be invited into experience the story, the ethos, the energy and values driving a brand. As you build a product experience, you can also build up the personal brand and signature approach of company leaders to build that personal connection, trust and credibility.

The key to thought leadership is offering valuable information and asking for nothing in return. Over time, you’ll build a reputation for your CEO or founder as a thought leader in the industry, a reliable source for quality information without the spammy sales pitch. The result is more consumer trust, increased media coverage, and improved brand image. And that’s good news for your bottom line.

Not sure how to put your CEO in the spotlight? Use these tactics to share expertise and build brand buzz.

Drive Company Through Leadership through Events

Work with your CEO or key management roles to outline a few potential topics for panels, keynote speeches, and get to work securing speaking opportunities at events that target your industry. If traveling or speaking on the stage isn’t of interest, host a live Q&A in the office or host a free workshop, and invite key members of the media, influencers and VIP customers. Small intimate events can have a big payoff in terms of securing brand advocacy, and natural social media extension through captured content.

Events don’t always need to be in person. A recurring Q+A with a company founder through live streaming is a great way to connect with wide audience without the extra travel time and logistics. New and existing customers will love learning about emerging trends, favorite products, and any opportunity to provide feedback and insights on future products and company development. Invite influencers and other industry experts to join in to attract a larger audience.

When in doubt, consider pairing in-person and digital events to reach an even larger audience.

Tell the full brand story through podcast interviews

Everyone and their mother has a podcast these days—and with good reason. More than 40 percent of American adults listen to podcasts.  With your traditional, product placement focused PR, there’s rarely room for more than a few lines about a brand’s unique approach. Interview-based podcasts however, allow your company CEO to share a deeper, more vulnerable and extensive story about the brand, touching on business aspects that aren’t apparent in the product alone.

Contributed or Bylined Content

Publicists have a long history of doubling as ghostwriters for the c-suite.  While we are all increasingly adopting video as an information and community-sharing medium, written content is still an incredibly popular way to promote thought leadership.

Similar to the topics that your CEO could give a keynote on, work collaboratively to develop article ideas, even a short ebook, that tells the brand story. Then, pitch those articles out to online outlets always on the lookout for great contributed content to keep up with the increasing pressures publishers face to be churning out content day after day.

Remember, CEOs are more than business leaders. Consider the trajectories of powerful entrepreneurs like Alli Webb, Sophia Amoroso, Sheryl Sandburg and others who have championed their companies while inspiring their direct and extended communities though thought leadership. Whether you’re a startup or a Fortune 500 company, brand trust and enthusiasm can be effectively build beyond simply pitching products. Consider the voices within the company as fodder for additional promotional opportunities and you’ll find this approach to positively impact all PR and marketing efforts.

PS: If you’re looking for thought leadership opportunities for your own PR agency, take a look at the PR Couture Council and reach out for 2019 details

About Lydia 

Lydia Vargo is the Senior Director of Strategic Accounts at ChicExecs. From Canada to Australia and finally California, Lydia knows first hand the unique struggles (and opportunities) that brands face in entering the US market. Lydia works closely with companies of all levels to build awareness, retail placement and sell-through strategies to ensure long-term success. She loves traveling, scuba diving, great food and making sure that laughter is front and foremost in her life.