PR Disasters Driving CEOs to Embrace Social Media
The Communicate Influence PodcastJune 17, 202000:39:3127.17 MB

PR Disasters Driving CEOs to Embrace Social Media

Rapidly changing public and employee expectations mean CEOs must start using social media to ensure they express the right sentiment at the right moment. 

The West has gone from a situation whre most executives were afraid of using social media for fear they might make some kind of mistake. 

"In recent times, especially since Trump and particularly since COVID-19, we've reached the point where fear of being absent from social media -especially if something goes wrong with their company - that fear of being absent is greater than the fear of being there and making a mistake, which was part of their initial reluctance," explains <strong>Bob Pickard</strong>, author of a chapter in a new book about CEOs and social media.

The book, The Social CEO: How Social Media Can Make You a Stronger Leader, has been written by Damian Corbet. Bob's chapter is How PR Disasters are Driving CEOs to Embrace Social Media. 

"The embrace has been fully informed by the current tides of opinion in the marketplace," adds Bob. 

When something goes wrong with a company or a complex organization, like a government or a non-profit organization, all eyes go online looking for the leader, and that's why the leader has to be on social media. They have to orchestrate, communicate, and relate to people right from the start of any incident. "To most executives, this is a relatively new area of endeavor. Many executives, particularly the more experienced ones, were brought up in a world of control, a world of hierarchy, a world of defference," explains Bob.

"It's not like we could wave a magic wand and change the way that they've been thinking for their entire career about how it is that they should communicate with people," he adds. 

Some (CEOs) expect that they're going to be sitting on top of the commanding heights of information, broadcasting their views to an appreciative audience of people who will just passively consume whatever they say. 

"All of a sudden, rewiring your mind to deal with peer-to-peer horizontal communication where people expect to be listened to and demand have their voices heard, that's not for everybody," says Bob. "That's not the career experience of many executives. It's something they've got to wrap their heads around and deal with.

"We've done some research here in Canada . . . the public now expects the chief executive to communicate about the activities of the company which they lead, especially if something goes wrong, such as a crisis. It's not really optional anymore. This is going to become mandatory for executives to signal their leadership online through social media."

Donald Trump's use of social media in 2016 was a digital disruption that broke through earlier resistance. A lot of executives looked at how Trump was elected President of the United States, basically, by running and emoting his campaign through a Twitter feed.

"They didn't want in most cases to be like Trump. In fact, I think the majority would be horrified to be like that," notes Bob. "They did watch the case study of his undeniable and unexpected success, feel the power of social media for the very first time in terms of driving real incomes."

A lot of CEOs regarded social media as a waste of time, assuming it was frivolous, where they would tweet about what they had for breakfast that morning. But the power of social through the Trump case study really galvanized people to go out there and give it a try.

Go to Communicate Influence to read the full article with this podcast.

Fine Bob Pickard on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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