Would you rather: company party or extended-family dinner?

It’s a running joke that people semi-dread holiday family gatherings because of that one weird uncle or sister-in-law or whomever. I have no idea how to help you with that.

With company executives, however, I have some thoughts. These are not people you can avoid most of the year and then small-talk your way through one or two gatherings. These relationships impact your day-to-day job satisfaction AND your career trajectory.

Here are some tips for earning the respect and trust of your leadership team:

Step one, get to know them. These are real people with moods and marriages and insecurities. When possible, meet one-on-one with execs so you understand what they are worrying about in the company. Observe them and look for patterns in their behavior. One of my Inner Circle members noticed that her CEO regularly got angry during board meetings. She realized he didn’t like being surprised by new information. Now she emails him the day before with all the info he needs to know.

Step two, speak their language. Determine their preferred mode of communication – Slack, email, phone – and use that to communicate, even if you think it’s old school or newfangled or not how you’d regularly do it. No matter how you communicate, keep these things in mind:

  • Use fewer words. Your job as a PR pro is to distill information. Company leadership does not have time to read a full-page email.
  • Be direct. Don’t waste time with small talk, flattery, or sugarcoating. Tell them what they need to know as simply as possible.
  • Be honest. There’s no faster way to ruin a relationship than with half-truths and purposely omitting awkward but relevant details.
  • Anticipate questions. You don’t need to type out the answer to every question they might have, but make sure you have an answer ready when they ask.

Step three, show up in the ways that matter to them. It’s awesome that you’ve increased engagement on social by 17 percent, but if your CEO’s goal is to land a company profile in your local business paper, that needs to be your goal too. Take the initiative to find needs and fill them. One PR pro I know was hired for the consumer side, but got to know the whole business and found ways where the PR team could help the business meet its goals through better internal comms.

As you get to know your execs, learn to speak their language, and help them achieve the goals that matter most to them, you will also earn their respect and trust. And it will make your company parties a lot less awkward.

This article was originally published on December 7, 2022

Get Michael’s 5 Winning Subject-Line Formulas and best PR tips each week free!

Articles Right Form

This is the articles sidebar opt-in form and can be accessed under “Appearance” – “Widgets” – “Articles Sidebar” http://d.bbg.li/k8mDGs

Would you like to get the next article as soon as it goes live?

(I’ll also send you other weekly tips)

'Count Me In' article subfooter optin

This is in the footer of any articles and can be edited in the "Theme Options" and "Single Blog Form" tab: http://d.bbg.li/sbzf7x