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Three Rules of C-Level Counsel

Three Rules of C-Level Counsel

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Published by The Fortex Group

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Published by: The Fortex Group on May 20, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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n today’s economic environment, public percep-tion can be the greatest asset — or the greatest lia-bility — of any company. But while reputationmay be one of the first considerations during thecorporate decision-making process, PR profession-als may not be leading the discussion. The reasonboils down to this: When it comes to reputation, theC-suite needs to talk business, not public relations.Those PR professionals able to lead business discussions arethe ones who will play the central role in managing a compa-ny’s reputation. All others will likely be relegated to a reac-tive mode where we are only able to communicate the deci-sions that others have finalized.This leads to some important questions. How can a PRdepartment switch from the common reactive and tacticalmodes to actively providing counsel during the decision-making process? Furthermore, how can public relationsmove from merely talking about media relations to manag-ing reputation risk and espousing the economic valuearound major business decisions such as customer-serviceinvestments?An active strategy for public perception managementrequires that a company view its relationship with PR rep-resentation as a partnership. The PR team should beinvolved at multiple levels of the company and should beviewed as a critical component in decision-making process-es. Instead of simply offering counsel when requested, thePR team should be a valuable resource that is engaged at theearliest stages of business planning through the final stagesof measurement and analysis.Maximum effectiveness requires that the PR team beplaced in a position where it can truly understand how thecompany is seen by core audiences, primarily customers,prospects and investors. The team must be able to projecthow company actions will affect those perceptions and mea-sure any changes in audience opinions. This is a major strate-gic shift; however, it is one that PR departments can facili-tate through the implementation of three crucial actions.
1. Introduce opinion-survey and market-analysistools into the departmental skill set
Understanding the influences of audience perceptionsof a company and what changes the company can implementto spur positive action, such as investing in or purchasingfrom the company, are fundamental to any strong and effec-tive strategic PR program.In current PR practice, professionals search for correla-tions and analyze data to determine how messaging and tac-
The Three Rules of C-Level PR Programming:
Research, Language and Counsel
“If I deliver results in PR-speak, I get blank, bored stares. I need totalk the same business languagewith the same business focus as my company’s  senior management team.” 
— SVP, corporate communications
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