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CEO social profiles critical comms tools during COVID-19


The last three weeks have been the longest crisis comms drill of our entire lives. It’s absolutely nutso. And, there’s really no end in sight (sometime in May, please!). Comms teams have been on full-tilt since early March communicating with employees and stakeholders seemingly non-stop.

They’ve largely been using the traditional channels–email, intranets, town halls and social media.

But one channel has given a handful of companies a huge leg up on others in the crisis communications game: personal CEO social media profiles (mostly, on LinkedIn).

I’ve been beating on this drum for years–the importance of CEO social media profiles (again, especially on LinkedIn). Now we’re seeing WHY every day.

WHY #1 – these profiles serve as an additional way to build trust with employees, customers and shareholders.

WHY #2 – these profiles are now a channel where you can get something posted in minutes vs. hours/days via other channels (i.e., you’re extremely complicated web or intranet)–especially important during a crisis.

WHY #3 – these profiles are more personal and “human” vs. email and other channels that come across as messages obviously penned by communicators.

And, we’re seeing brands use their personal CEO profiles as part of their overall strategic communications plan. For example:

Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta, is leading with emotional intelligence as the airline industry goes through a pretty tough time.

Medtronic CEO, Omar Ishrak, is using his Twitter account to amplify key news that the company is open-sourcing its design for ventilators (which, incidentally, outperformed the brand account when it shared the same news):

3M CEO, Mike Roman, is sharing news about steps 3M is taking to address the pandemic.

And, the president of Mondolez International in Mainland China is giving us a glimpse into what life looks like after COVID-19.

These are just a few examples. There are more. Like Beth Ford, CEO of Land O Lakes, who’s been out in front of COVID-19 throughout March.

Or, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, who shared his memo to employees on his LinkedIn account–a move he’s done before with good success.

But, as you probably know, the number of CEOs with active, personal social media profiles is still fairly small. There is ample opportunity here–for all of us. Yes, this exact moment may not be the perfect time to ramp up an executive on social media. But after all this lets up (and it will let up), it’s probably time to take a closer look at your options. Because, the companies that do have that option right now are pretty glad they have it.

So, write a note to yourself right now: Approach CEO, again, about being active on LinkedIn. Even if it’s just a start. Even if it’s just brushing up his/her profile. Even if it’s just a post a month. That active profile will come in awful handy during the next crisis. And the one after that.



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