Executive Communications: Helping the “Big Guy” Succeed

Let’s be honest, writing for the chief executive officer of any organization is a sweet gig, but it comes with a fair amount of pressure. Question is, if you’re responsible for putting words in the “Big Guy’s” mouth, is what’s coming out increasing your value as a trusted ally or is it increasing your chances of becoming an insurance agent? (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)


Every corporate communicator knows consistent access to top brass equals influence, however influence can vaporize faster than steam coming off boiling water.  Here are five ways to become a successful executive communicator — and stay that way. Continue Reading

Does your communications strategy have one rail or two?

Have you ever considered why railroad tracks have two rails? Probably not because the answer is obvious. Unfortunately too many organizations only lay one rail of a communications strategy yet expect it to offer a smooth ride and a destination arrival ahead of the competition.


I was talking with a prospective client and exploring what it is his company needs as it repositions itself following a couple of years of rapid growth. We talked messaging, and vision statements, and speaking points, and visual branding, and elevator pitches, and content marketing strategies; you know, the bling people see and hear. But then I asked him about the other rail. Continue Reading

Leaders, don’t be the tree in an empty forest

Question: If a leader falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear him, does he still make a sound?


I recognize I’m mixing my (metaphysical) metaphors, but the question does have two philosophical implications for leaders and leadership. Philosopher George Berkeley used the metaphor of a tree falling in the forest as a basis for raising the questions: “Can something exist without being perceived?”; and “Can we assume the unobserved world functions the same as the observed world?” Continue Reading

Is Your Communications Strategy More Than Lipstick on the Pig?

A communications strategy not built on the foundational elements of an organization’s vision, mission and the actions of its leaders and employees amounts to putting lipstick on a pig.


I had  a recent conversation with some organizational leaders about communications strategies and how to better tell their organization’s story. I had to manage some expectations because there was the idea that an integrated communications strategy can make everything better. And let’s face it, it can, but only if there is some substance to the organization worth communicating. Continue Reading

Leadership and communication (They’re close friends)

Last year, Forbes magazine contributor, Michael Myatt, wrote an insightful article on the 10 Communications Secrets of Great Leaders. I agree with all of them, but would like to add one: A leader should pay attention to what’s going on around him or her…and engage. (Yep, I see them as one leadership tool).

Communication builds teamwork

I’ve written before about how important communicating clearly is for both leaders and followers in my post, “Leaders can improve employee motivation with these tips.” However, I recently finished 20 physical therapy sessions recovering from a bicycle accident and observed how important communicating clearly is for, well everyone, and it begins with leaders paying attention to what’s going on around them. Continue Reading

The I Ching of Branding and Marketing

Branding is the attempt to set one organization apart from another. Successful branding is setting apart your brand from your competition. The ability to do so isn’t as complicated as you might think.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A recent client in the tech industry asked me to write a corporate positing document that has one purpose: succinctly yet comprehensively explain what the company does. It has two primary audiences: potential investors and healthcare CEOs/COOs/CFOs. However, when the President/CEO of the company sent me the initial draft of what she wanted, the opening paragraph consisted of 128 words and two sentences laden with redundant tech industry corpspeak. “You can wordsmith it however you’d like,” she said. “But I’d really like to keep the tone of it.” Continue Reading

4 Ways corporate communicators can help CEOs succeed

Leadership expert John Maxwell once *wrote, “Everything rises and falls on leadership, but knowing how to lead is only half the battle. Understanding leadership and actually leading are two different activities.” Corporate communicators often find themselves standing in the gap between the two.

C-Level executive

C-Level leaders, and especially CEOs, are elevated to their positions of leadership for a number of reasons; being a person of vision is almost always one of them. Board members, stock holders, trustees, employees and customers all have an expectation that the CEO will make the organization more successful in every way, from profitability to the quality of the customer experience and overall work environment. Continue Reading

Use case studies to support content marketing strategies

If you are looking for a way to improve your content marketing strategy this year, consider case studies. Case studies are obviously not new. Organizations have used them for years as a way to provide a systematic examination of cause and effect over a period of time. True, some case studies are about as cheesy (and creepy) as a cheap pick-up line. However, today’s savvy organizations tie well-written case studies to a larger content marketing strategy and overall integrated communications strategy.

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you’re unsure on the meaning of content marketing and its role in organizational branding, here is a great summary by Shelly Kramer at V3 Integrated Marketing titled, “Content Marketing: A beginner’s checklist.” Case studies fall within an overall content marketing strategy. Writing case studies requires a marketer’s entrepreneurial mentality and a journalist’s “nose for news” approach. Report legitimate information that establishes a favorable outcome for your clients and supports your organization. Continue Reading

3 Questions to ask while preparing speeches and presentations

Maybe you remember the scene from the 1980s movie Back to School. Professor Turguson, played by comedian Sam Kinison, hovers over Rodney Dangerfield’s character demanding an answer to his question by not-so-gentley shouting, “SAY IT! SAY IT!” How many speeches or presentations have you sat through where you wanted to shout, “SAY IT! SAY IT!” hoping the speaker would find his point?

speeches and presentations

Image provided by www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The problem with so many presentations and speeches is there is no clear target in mind. The result: related facts that don’t make a clear point. The speaker may know where he’s heading (or not), but too often he assumes the audience walks away having, “gotten it.” Unfortunately, audiences often walk away in a fog of confusion. There are universal fundamentals that should shape every speech or presentation and guide those related facts to a destination. I’ve asked myself the questions below in any executive speech I’ve authored or presentation I’ve prepared. Continue Reading