Can Business Leaders Really Thrive Without A PR Specialist?

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You might not be Elon Musk (yet!), but as a startup founder or growing business owner, your brand is increasingly becoming a reflection of you.

Sure, the spotlight can be great, but it also has its risks. One social media slip-up and the wrong kind of attention can hurt your business. So, how do you tell your story the right way, handle a sudden crisis, and get people excited about your company?

That’s where a publicist comes in. They help you build a public image that supports your business goals. They’ll get you featured in the right places, make you an expert in your field, and protect your reputation.

But is outsourcing your voice necessary at this stage in your career? Let’s find out!

The Evolving Role Of CEOs As Public Figures

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Today’s CEOs are no longer just figureheads behind the scenes. Stakeholders and the public increasingly expect CEOs to serve as the face of the company and advocate for important issues.

The Rise Of The Celebrity CEO

Celebrity CEOs like Elon Musk and Richard Branson have raised the bar for public visibility and engagement. CEOs are now looked to as thought leaders and champions for causes like sustainability or workplace culture. With social media, CEOs have a platform to create a personal brand and connect with customers in an authentic way.

But increased visibility also brings increased scrutiny and accountability. CEOs must be hyper-aware of how their actions and communications will be perceived. One wrong move can damage both their own reputation and the company’s.

The Need For Strategic Communications

An experienced publicist can help CEOs navigate the challenges of the public arena. They can help build and protect a CEO’s personal brand through strategic media relations and crisis management planning.

Publicists also have a pulse on the latest trends in corporate social responsibility and ESG (environmental, social, governance) to help CEOs determine appropriate causes to support.

In some cases, CEOs may prefer to handle public communications themselves to speak directly with stakeholders. But for high-profile brands, a PR specialist’s expertise and objectivity are invaluable.

They can help refine the CEO’s talking points to maximize positive media coverage and ensure the CEO’s messaging is aligned with the overall company brand and key priorities.

 

The evolving role of the CEO offers a unique opportunity to shape a powerful, authentic public image that supports the company’s mission. But with this opportunity comes the need for clear, strategic communication plans. Whether a business leader chooses to manage their reputation independently or collaborate with a publicist is closely tied to their company’s size, resources, and risk tolerance.

When Should Business Leaders Hire A Dedicated Publicist? Let’s Ask An Expert

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It seems like every CEO or business leader could use a PR rep, especially if they’re aiming for growth. But is hiring a publicist always the right move? We turned to Seattle-Based PR professional, Lindsey Bradshaw, to get her take on when a dedicated publicist becomes a true necessity.

Not Every Business Leader Needs A Dedicated Publicist (At Least Not Right Away)

Lindsey Bradshaw acknowledges that the decision depends on a business’s unique situation. But she emphasizes that a publicist’s value goes beyond standard media outreach. Publicists are multi-faceted communicators who support CEOs or business leaders both in the spotlight and behind the scenes.

When Is A PR Specialist Essential?

  1. Time Constraints: As Lindsey Bradshaw says, if your time is more valuable than the cost of a publicist, it’s time to delegate. A PR specialist can handle communications, freeing you up to focus on running the business.
  2. Crisis Preparation: Publicists aren’t just about good news. They help you prepare for the worst and train business leader’s to respond effectively and protect their reputation during a crisis. Lindsey Bradshaw also shares that not all publicists are reputation management specialists. For serious image repair, it’s worth seeking a niche expert who focuses on that area.

How Can You Make The Most Of The Situation Without A Publicist?

For CEOs or business leaders who aren’t quite ready for a retainer, Lindsey Bradshaw suggests focusing on these skills:

  1. Social Media Savvy: Master the platforms where your audience engages.
  2. Media Training: Get comfortable with interviews, even if they aren’t with major publications at first.

What Are The Investment Levels And Expectations For Hiring PR Specialists?

Lindsey Bradshaw provides a general idea of pricing for business leaders (keep in mind that rates can vary depending on location, experience, and the scope of services):

  1. Freelancer: USD$2k – $3k+ per month
  2. Agency: USD$8k+ per month
  3. In-House: USD$110k+ salary

The Bottom Line

Think of a publicist as a strategic partner who saves you time, protects your reputation, and helps you achieve larger business goals – not just as someone who gets your name in the press.

Not Ready For A Publicist? Here Are Essential Skills For Managing Your Own PR

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While a publicist can accelerate your visibility, mastering these core skills lets you manage your brand’s reputation even on a budget. Lindsey Bradshaw emphasized that outsourcing makes sense when a CEO’s time is at a premium. But until then, these strategies will boost your communications and build a strong public image:

Master Core Communication

  1. Write to Impress: Learn to craft a compelling company story for media pitches and your website. “Inverted pyramid” style (most important info first) is key.
  2. Practice Makes Perfect: Do mock interviews (even recording yourself!) to improve answering questions clearly and confidently.
  3. Body Language Matters: Be aware of how you appear on camera or in front of a group. Convey confidence and openness through posture and eye contact.

Be Strategic, Not Just Social

  1. Pick the Right Platforms: Don’t spread yourself thin. Research where your customers engage and focus your efforts there, not just the trendiest network.
  2. Provide Value: Share insights and industry news, not just self-promotion. This builds your credibility as a thought leader.
  3. Engage Thoughtfully: Don’t shy away from responding to comments (positive and negative) with professionalism. This demonstrates authenticity.

Develop These Leadership Essentials

These skills, highlighted by experts in leadership and PR, will make a CEO’s communication even more powerful:

  1. Decisiveness: In a crisis, act based on information, not fear. This earns respect and minimizes damage.
  2. Credibility and Authenticity: Be honest about your company’s strengths and weaknesses. This builds trust over the long run.
  3. Adaptability: Trends change quickly, and so should your tactics. Be willing to experiment and change course if needed.

Even with strong skills, there are times when a dedicated publicist’s expertise is invaluable, particularly when managing crises or seeking major visibility. But regardless of whether you have a publicist on your team, your personal involvement is essential. No one knows your company’s story and vision better than you, and that authenticity is what audiences ultimately respond to.

Take An Active Role In Managing Your Public Image

Female executive talking to business leaders

As the head of your company, you are the embodiment of your brand. The way you communicate and behave shapes how the public perceives your company. While a skilled PR specialist can be a valuable asset, they can’t replace your authentic voice and leadership.

By taking an active role in shaping your public image, you can ensure that your company’s story is told with clarity and passion. This doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself – there’s a space for collaboration with PR professionals. But by staying involved and engaged, you can ensure your brand reflects your vision and values.


More press, less stress. That’s the Beanstalk way!

We boost your visibility with a tailored PR strategy. No fluff, just the right expertise and support to make your business and personal brand shine.

Contact us today and let our PR experts help you make headlines.

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