"Honestly, I'm surprised at the difference that my personally being on social media makes."
"I had no idea how much more of a public face I would need to show."
"I've stopped fighting the idea that I need to fully embrace having a personal brand as part of being a CEO."
These are just some of the comments that have come my way from new CEOs in the past few months. Many, if not most, are surprised to learn just how necessary it is for them to create a strong CEO brand in their new role as the chief brand ambassador of their companies.
Those who do catch on, realize that creating a CEO brand is a powerful way to position their leadership and build the brand of the business. Here are three important ways to pursue your personal brand as a new CEO.
Find your flavor of thought leadership.
One of the challenges every new CEO faces is in defining their thought leadership style. This requires thinking through the three distinct tones of thought leadership and determining which one would best suit your CEO brand.
Celebrity. These CEOs are best known for their personality. In a very real way, their character and style are the essence of the brand. Examples include: Richard Branson, Tony Robbins, and Oprah Winfrey.
Cerebral. At the heart of their CEO brand these leaders are best known for their thinking and ideas. Examples include: Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.
Consequential. This thought leadership is centered around results and the CEOs are best known for their accomplishments. Examples include: Steve Jobs, Sheryl Sandberg, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Determining which variety of thought leadership, you want your CEO brand to be known for, is critical to generating the tactical strategy you plan on putting in place.
Get your social on.
One report by BRANDfog reported that 75 percent of those surveyed perceive that C-Suite and executive leadership is improved by participation on social media. Being a social CEO keeps you from getting left in the online dust. At a minimum you need to decide which social media platform best suits your style. Take some time to think through which site matches your time and talents best. For example:
- If you're a good writer, consider a weekly blog on either your company website or as a contributing writer for an online site that fits your industry.
- Does your business or industry lend itself to an ongoing stream of information that can be broken down into short bits? You may want to create a CEO Twitter profile or regularly weigh in on your company account.
- Looking to connect with other senior executives in the B2B space? Consider writing a weekly article on LinkedIn and pushing it out to your contacts and groups.
Get out in front of the news media.
The more reporters covering your industry who get to know you, the greater the chance they will call you when they need a source to interview. The typical approach is to hire a PR firm to write up and send out a press release promoting you as a new CEO with the latest and greatest information on a given topic.
The smarter action, however, is to do a more proactive campaign based on a carefully crafted story, opinion, or specific content pertaining to a relevant and timely topic. For example is there some event, trend or happening in the news that you should be weighing in on? Just remember that before you jump headlong into media interviews, you want to get your sound bites down.
Almost every executive who contacts me about establishing a new CEO brand knows it's something they need to do, but are usually at a loss for where to start. The basics - an up to date LinkedIn profile, a current headshot, and solid bio that shows your achievements and commitments are key. Beyond that, the smartest new CEOs know that establishing an active online presence and becoming a media go resource for media are an important way to plant your flag and say "I'm here and ready to go."