What is Connected Leadership and why does it matter to your corporate PR strategy?

Stakeholders, be they consumers, influencers, analysts or investors, expect the c-suite to be engaged, responsive and visible, and using earned media and social media to achieve this goal. Connected leadership requires an agile leader who is effective at tackling modern business challenges in all their guises. They are perfectly placed to handle corporate PR in earned, owned and shared media.

Connected leadership drives value by bringing the company’s values and purpose to life, being responsive on key issues, such as employee communications, crises and helping to solve problems or discussing key opportunities for the business and its customers.

A good connected leader is inspirational, authentic, devolves decision making, collaborates and is agile. These qualities are perfectly suited to modern leadership and, of course, PR and communications.

Trust is central to building a reputation and a connected leader can help build or destroy trust within sectors. A trusted and connected leader can help tackle a PR crisis in real time via social media, attract new talent by demonstrating their leadership style and vision, and win the confidence of the investor community.

Leadership, not fame

Connected leadership should not be confused with celebrity or vanity PR projects. Being a connected leader is a responsibility to represent an organisation, build its brand, communicate its offering and defend it during times of crisis. It should go without saying that connected leadership is not linked to frivolity, selfies, memes, and other entertainment. While the connected leader should project their own personality and humanity by being as authentic as possible, the best way to build this trust is by sticking to the mission as best as possible.

How to become a connected leader on social media

Forget the discussion of platforms and which social media technology is the most relevant for now, because what really matters is the strategy to developing connected leadership on social media, wherever that might happen.

Training is key. Some CEOs are not digital natives and social media usage might not be natural to them. If this is the case then extensive training and practice of using social media before taking the reins is advised. There are plenty of training courses by the CIPR and PRCA and elsewhere.

Listening can be done organically or using social media tools and other reporting strategies to identify key themes and emerging issues. By listening, a connected leader can jump on issues as they emerge.

Identifying topics makes it possible to be both responsive tactically and then feed those topics into a broader corporate communications strategy, developing earned, shared and owned media content to provide more in-depth responses and follow-up content which reinforces the position of the connected leader.

The key skill that all connected leaders share is that they are ‘engaging, not broadcasting’. More often than not, if a CEO dips into a comments thread and replies then it can win as many hearts and minds as a well-produced corporate report or video. Authenticity, again, is key.

Connected leadership for media relations success

A good connected leader will couple social media engagement with owned media, such as blogging. By being visible in the press and providing in-depth commentary, insight, and updates, a connected leader can amplify their message and build further trust and influence. Strategies can include corporate profiling, thought leadership, and general media relations to ensure visibility and openness are maximised.

Connected leadership: Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity (by James Crawford)

I’m a big fan of Dale Vince. If you don’t know the story, Dale was once a new-age traveller who had a big idea to create a wind energy company back when wind energy was in its infancy.

It is a true fact that the author of this post met Vince, albeit fleetingly, when he and his company entered the Bank of Scotland Corporate Entrepreneur of the Year awards. He struck me then as a man who stood out in a room full of corporate suits. I was young and we sat on the same table. To be honest, he was quite intense and a bit intimidating for 24 year old me, but you could tell he was a man with a vision.

I’ve followed his career ever since and now he is also known as the chairman of Forest Green Rovers.

What I like about Vince is his aggressive pursuit of his values and his lack of fear to tackle issues head-on. He probably both delights and scares the crap out of his PR team on a daily basis as he is not scared to ruffle feathers.

He’s called for a ban on gambling sponsorship within sport, brought in vegan food into the stadium, and even taken on big media’s lack of commitment on environmental issues. And those are just the last few angles that I can remember.

What is also impressive is how he clearly has a good grip on privacy. You can see he has separated his public and private profile and actively uses a Facebook page to engage on issues that are relevant to him and his businesses. 

While some of his social media accounts are not kept up to date as regularly as some might advocate in connected leadership theory, it is the authenticity of his social and earned media profile that makes Dale a brilliant connected leader. He’s very active within the comments of his shared media, providing responses, additional information, and clarifying points. He even takes on critics with humility and without being too heavy-handed.

To find out more about connected leadership, corporate PR, corporate profiling or thought leadership, get in contact with PR Agency One today via the forms on this page.

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