Opinion: Lack of CEO engagement in comms impacts business growth

Opinion: Lack of CEO engagement in comms impacts business growth

Laura Tallett, director of business and corporate at Speed Communications, discusses the struggle of engaging CEOs in marketing activity and how to overcome these barriers.

Laura Tallett

Gaining buy-in from the senior leadership team is paramount to any successful comms strategy, yet many businesses face challenges when it comes to engaging their CEO in their marcomms programme.

While there are many CEOs who do appreciate that comms is a strategic function that brings business value, we’ve commissioned research that highlights how a significant number still don’t understand the true value of the process, and the importance of their involvement. It is this gap that remains a barrier to success.

The perception gap

Although many CEOs claim to be involved in marketing, our Leadership Marketing Gap report has revealed that almost half of CMOs struggle to engage their CEO.

While many CEOs may believe they are involved, there is a clear perception gap between what the CEO and CMO think this means, as well as their thoughts on what is required of the CEO to effectively support this process and engage in the activity.

Lack of time is one of the biggest reasons cited by CEOs for not engaging in marketing and comms. The amount of time dedicated to something is reflective of how highly you view its importance, so this is where the real challenge is; the value placed on comms by CEOs is the barrier to engagement.

The CEOs voice is vital

Many CEOs also believe that they aren’t necessarily the appropriate spokesperson for the business, which stems from a lack of confidence.

In actual fact, the CEO plays a vital part in building brand awareness and directly influences the personality of the business. CEOs need to be embracing their role as chief storyteller of their company, being the voice that shapes a brand’s identity and reputation.

Yet it’s not just the brand building, it is about ensuring that marcomms strategy is aligned to the business’s strategy and future growth plans. This is where comms, when done well, can really support a business, but the CEO needs to be involved to help drive this and provide the input when needed.

Leading by example on the global business stage are marketing-led companies like Uber and Amazon. Organisations that fully embrace integrated marketing programmes and place them at the heart of their business strategy will benefit from the most success.

A CEO is vital in helping to amplify and deepen the company narrative and should have an influence on a business aligned marcomms strategy. But how can we get them to see this and engage?

Overcoming barriers

It’s clear a real barrier needs to be overcome.

This starts with educating CEOs on the importance of marketing and communications, and the critical role it plays in driving brand value. Marketing teams need to demonstrate that their programmes are an investment and not an expense and that the CEO plays a vital role.

By delivering insights into brand reputation and value whilst demonstrating the impact comms has on supporting business strategy, CMOs can educate their leaders on the importance of what they do.

Engagement from the top is key to driving brand credibility and respect. A marketing-led business needs a CEO who wants to make a difference, as well as increased levels of involvement from the leadership team.

With an engaged CEO at the helm of a solid marketing strategy, businesses will see increased brand elevation and ultimately business growth and success.

To find out more on the strategies communicators can use to get buy-in from senior leaders, download this Cision white paper on the subject by filling in the form below. 

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