The Public Relations Strategist

Forward Thinking

October 22, 2013

Are You an Antisocial CEO?

Why should CEOs use Twitter? Forbes calls it a platform on which to build a personal brand and a tool that lets leaders talk about themselves, their company, and their products and services. But Twitter also gives CEOs the chance to listen — an opportunity that most are missing. According to a recent study by Domo and, only 4 percent of CEOs are tweeting, and almost 70 percent don’t have a social-media presence at all.

For CEOs to overcome their reluctance to use social media, Forbes suggests eliminating the second word. Sociability is an inherent human trait, and technology is letting people connect, communicate, share, build, invent, conspire and celebrate in new ways. Leaders of industries that are losing relevance with young people should ask themselves whether they are choosing to be antisocial CEOs.

Opting out of being social means missing the chance to learn what consumers want. Social media outlets like Twitter let CEOs join the conversation and hear what the world is saying about issues that matter to their companies and clients. Such feedback also helps executives avoid the trap of only talking to people who share their views.  — Greg Beaubien

Why Leaders Are Sometimes Afraid to Show Compassion

Recent research suggests that compassion creates positive outcomes in organizations, making people feel more positive and committed. For leaders, acting with compassion can also increase personal satisfaction and mitigate work stress, said Roger Schwarz, an organizational psychologist and leadership consultant, in an Aug. 29 Harvard Business Review piece. He defined compassion as noticing the suffering of others, connecting with them and responding.

But even managers who want to be compassionate may find it difficult because they believe that compassion conflicts with their responsibility to make objective evaluations.  According to Schwarz, signs that you’re letting judgment block your compassion can include having thoughts like: “Your suffering isn’t that serious and therefore doesn’t warrant compassion.” And when direct reports say, “We’re overwhelmed with work,” do you think, “You have no idea how much I’m working, so stop complaining and make it happen?” Another person’s suffering doesn’t have to exceed yours to deserve compassion, Schwarz wrote.

You might think that your report contributed to his or her problem. But if you extend compassion only to those who are fault-free, then you will exclude most of the people you work with — including yourself. You can be compassionate even as you hold the other person accountable or disagree with what they’ve done. It doesn’t mean that you’ll become the person’s therapist or have to solve their personal problems. All you need to do is listen and express concern.  — G.B.

Survey: Fortune 500 Companies Embrace Instagram, but Video Remains Unexplored

Nike and Starbucks, the two most-followed Fortune 500 brands on Instagram, have inspired others to use the platform for creative marketing purposes, CNET reported on Sept. 25.

According to research compiled by competitive intelligence firm TrackMaven, nearly 25 percent of Fortune 500 companies are active on Instagram, with 112 of these brands maintaining active accounts.

More than 150 people use the three-year-old photo- and video-sharing app, which Facebook purchased for $1 billion last year.

Companies are primarily sticking to photos and are hesitant to venture into 15-second video creation, a feature that the company added to the application in late June. Collectively, these brands have posted 19,009 pictures and just 243 videos, as of Sept. 17.

While many expect video adoption to increase by the end of this year, the study found that video posts receive fewer interactions — Likes and comments — than photos.

However, hashtags seem to encourage engagement with big brands on Instagram. TrackMaven found that there is a strong correlation between using hashtags and garnering more Likes and comments — five is the optimal number of hashtags.

The study concludes that Instagram is “as much about people exploring new content as it is about them following the photos and videos of people or brands they like.”  — Kyra Auffermann

In a recent survey of 483 executives and managers, the Center for Creative Leadership found that 60 percent of those who use smartphones for work are connected to their jobs for 13.5 or more hours per day on weekdays and about five hours  per day on weekends.

Assuming that these people sleep about seven and a half hours per night, that leaves only three hours per day on Monday through Friday for them to do everything else, such as chores, exercising, grocery shopping, family time, showering and relaxing. This also means that they spend 62 percent of their waking hours every week connected to work.

Helpful Hints for New Hires

Beth Comstock, the CMO of GE, recently shared with LinkedIn what she looks for in new hires.

“Hiring people with different styles, backgrounds and experience increases the success of teams,” she said. “My sense of what makes a successful team is constantly evolving, but these days I look for these four types when I hire: 1. The fish out of water. 2. Someone who can FIO (figure it out). 3. Candidates with design training. 4. The well-balanced player.”

Companies Are Adapting to Younger Generations’ Work Styles

When the economy crumbled five years ago, jobs were scarce for many young people, and the workplace continued to follow baby boomer rules. But new generations experience resistance in the same basic pattern, Haydn Shaw, an author who writes about cultural differences at the office, tells During the first five years in the workforce, a generation’s style and preferences go unnoticed, but after 10 years, their numbers grow so large that older workers start acquiescing to them.

By Shaw’s definition, so-called millennials are now 11 to 31 years old and 80 million in number — a generation even larger than the boomers. With the economy recovering and older workers beginning to retire, smart companies are easing the rules to retain the best of the younger generation. The global accounting and consulting firm PwC underwrote a study that found that this age group is as committed to their work as boomers are — with a key difference being that the younger generation views work as a thing, not a place. But the study also found that boomers now accept, and even embrace, the flexible work schedules that millennials prefer.

As Shaw says, “Smart organizations don’t fight what they can’t stop. They figure out how much of another generation’s approaches they can embrace without hurting the business, and then they get back to the real work.” — G.B.

Survey: More Executives Believe That PR Pros Should Oversee Social Media

Who should manage a company’s social media presence? It’s a tough question, according to a survey that the Creative Group released on Sept. 25.
When researchers asked advertising and marketing executives which department is best suited to oversee an organization’s social media efforts, 39 percent of respondents said public relations/communications, and 35 percent said marketing. Only 15 percent said customer service, and 5 percent said the CEO/owner.

The Creative Group offered four tips to help companies delegate social media activities:

  1. Make it a group effort. Create cross-department working groups to manage social media activities, leveraging the strengths of different teams.
  2. Scout for internal talent. Identify current employees who have expressed an active interest in social media and can help drive the effort — whether from a strategy, execution or maintenance standpoint.
  3. Communicate best practices to all employees. Equip all employees with company social media guidelines and best practices.
    They may become your company’s strongest brand ambassadors, even if they’re tweeting and posting from a personal account.
  4. Bring in reinforcements. Bringing in skilled freelancers who have experience developing, launching and managing social media campaigns can help alleviate the workload and provide outside expertise. — K.A.





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