Introducing Leadership: The Role of Public Relations

Mar 10, 2023

A change in leadership can be an exciting time for an organization. At the same time, transition at the executive leadership level can also be unsettling and disruptive for key stakeholders – employees, customers, investors and more. How new leadership is introduced to internal and external audiences is crucial to their success. Public relations can help set the stage with a distinct messaging strategy that utilizes a well-timed mix of internal communications, media relations and social media.

Formulating a messaging approach

According to a recent report from McKinsey & Company, if a leadership transition succeeds, the company is more likely to experience success over the next few years. Effective communication can inform transition details, provide insight into the new leader’s background and highlight their goals for the company, ensuring all parties feel excited and comfortable with any pending changes. Public relations professionals [ideally outside counsel with no affinity to existing leadership that may have been passed over] work with internal stakeholders and new leaders to develop messaging that effectively communicates these aspects, ensuring a rollout plan that provides transparency to employees and internal audiences while demonstrating leadership and strength to external audiences.

The advantages of employee engagement and communications

That same report also shared that unsuccessful transitions often lead to 20 percent lower employee engagement and 15 percent lower team performance. Through PR engagement, internal communications plans can effectively introduce leadership to employees, minimizing concerns and enabling employees to feel united rather than disconnected from new leadership. After developing initial messaging, PR professionals can help craft internal communications to clarify further the new leadership’s goals, vision and intentions for the organization. Tactics can include employee emails, video content, conducting town halls or initiating engagement on Workplace or alternative internal social networks.

Leveraging media relations to build leadership visibility

By reaching out to journalists and other members of the media (podcasts, radio, broadcast, etc.), leaders can be positioned positively during their introduction phase. Positive press coverage can help improve a business’s reputation, allowing for transparency and connection between the leader and key stakeholders. Third-party coverage can also show validation to investors during a new leader’s first 100 days, a crucial time in the transition period.

Using social media to boost new leadership introduction

While social media often crosses marketing and PR, elevating thought leadership requires a PR lens and should be part of the overall discussion when developing messaging. PR professionals can provide strategy and content to support new leaders and validate what channels will work best for them and their organizational goals. Social media platforms can be a powerful tool for new leaders, amplifying their messages to reach audiences beyond company walls while fostering connection and community.

While setting up a leader for success is important, going beyond the first 100 days is essential. After the initial introduction phase, public relations should have a seat at the table to continue elevating organizational leaders. Whether through press interviews or messaging in key external documents – investor reports, press releases, etc. – PR strategy and tactics can help advance thought leadership, increase brand awareness and deliver business outcomes.