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How New Execs Can Build Effective Relationships with Influencers

This post was first published by Megan Grobert on March Communications’ blog PR Nonsense.

Execs should take steps to prepare themselves for media and influencer relations when they take a role at a new company.Apple recently announced that Burberry’s CEO, Angela Ahrendts, would be joining the team as senior vice president of retail and online stores. We constantly hear that change happens – and that it’s often for the best – but as PR professionals, we always a feel a slight bit of anxiety when a client brings in a new executive.

Will the media take to him? Is she prepared to engage in interviews and speeches on the company’s behalf? Executives are the company’s public face in the media, so rapidly getting new executives up-to-speed is crucial.While new executives are busy learning about various areas of their new company, they should understand the value of cultivating relationships with the media. The sooner the executive is able to talk to influencers, the better. If the company is well known, like Apple, there’s going to be media interest right off the bat. Journalists will want to discuss the move with the exec and analysts will want to know how the position will impact innovation and revenue.

Here are four tips for an executive who is learning to become a company’s new representative and an industry thought leader:

1. Bridge the Silos.

This may seem basic but building a relationship with the other executives as quickly as possible will make everything easier. Executives should be led through silos and introduced to the other members of the C-level team in person to learn about how they talk about the brand.

2. Absorb the Messaging.

The executive is likely being briefed by a number of different departments. All of that information is rapidly flying at them, so it’s important to make sure he or she understands the key messages that the company wants to communicate to the media.

3. Dive into the Industry.

If the executive is new to the industry, employees should help make sure they are up-to-date with industry trends. Educating the executive on contemporary issues facing prospects, customers and peers will allow for more informed executive commentary on topical and timely pieces, helping build thought leadership.

4. Think about Media Training.

At March, we offer strategy and messaging training as well as media training to new executives and spokespeople. These training sessions can include everything from planning and refining messaging to mock interviews, depending on the client’s needs. Trainings are a great way to help executives become more comfortable when speaking with media about their new company and further building your relationship.

Establishing new executives as knowledgeable sources as early as possible is critical to a smooth PR transition. Media training with a PR agency allows execs to learn about different types of journalists and analysts, and how to deal with multiple styles of interviews, too.

Executives should be the public thought leaders of their companies, which means that the more practiced they are in the world of media and influencer relations, the better they can lead the business – and the industry.

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