To see a cross section of how business leaders are currently communicating, we monitored over 350 interviews in the UK and United States over the course of a month.
Taken from leading print, online, TV and radio outlets, the interviews revealed something about how the media treat leaders, and much about how leaders approach the media. Leaders can have several reasons for appearing in the media. Some are forced on in a defensive mode following criticism or poor results. Others wish to campaign for some outcome, or just support a sales campaign. Others may treat the opportunity as a way to boost their profile and gain goodwill in future.
At heart, though, the task is usually the same: project an image of the leader, represent the strategy and values of the organisation, and deliver a few messages while surviving any hostile questioning.
We set out to test whether a few basic elements were present in leaders’ media appearances
- Do they make sure to mention customers?
- Do they mention the market they operate in?
- Do they mention their colleagues?
- Do they primarily couch their arguments in terms of ‘I’ or ‘we’?
- Do they talk numbers?
From these we can start to build up an idea of how most people do it. This is not necessarily the same thing as identifying the right way to communicate – that’s a matter of style, circumstance and strategy. But an understanding of how your competition does it is not a bad place to start.
We have also looked across all media to identify opportunities for leaders to get their message across, and provide a weekly planner for broadcast, print and online.