Posts Tagged ‘Executive Conferences’
The second survey of Board Directors was just issued. The survey is conducted by Eisner Amper, audit, tax and business advisory professionals. They used their database and NACD’s Directorship magazine’s subscriber list of corporate directors. The survey reports on the opinions of 142 directors representing publicly and privately-held companies.
One of the questions they asked was which risks are most important to their boards, that is, besides financial risk (which probably begs a 100% answer!). The chart is below. At the top of the list is reputational risk — 69% said this is most important today. Reputational risk surpasses regulatory compliance risk (61%), CEO succession (55%) and IT risk (51%). I would posit that if this survey was done in the past few weeks, IT risk might have jumped up higher as a factor of major concern. The hacking and hobbling of computer networks at Boeing, Sony and the White House gmail accounts have had to certainly affect risk management concerns at board level. With regard to security risks, Eisner Amper wisely says: “The tools of today’s business heavily revolve around information technology, the Internet, the speed and degree of data transmission, and the pervasiveness of social media.” And everything that affects business affects reputation.
|Aside from financial risk, which are most important to your boards?||Board Directors|
|Regulatory compliance risk||61%|
|CEO succession planning||55%|
|Privacy and data security||33%|
|Risk due to fraud||21%|
Another question they asked which I like was where board directors go to for new information. In the 2011 survey, the leading sources were company management, publications, Internet, accounting/advisory firms and conferences (at 33%). I liked seeing the importance of conferences among the other sources because I firmly believe that getting out of the office and listening to other points of views provide opportunities for thinking beyond the same old ways about the same old problems. I wish I did more of this myself. We all need to close the door on our silos. For board members, this is a good sources considering how the problems they face have to be on high boil these days.
|Primary Sources for New Information||Board Directors|
|Accounting and advisory firms||36%|
At the end of their executive summary, Eiser Amper concludes:
“Protect. Protect. Protect. Reputational risk needs constant monitoring and analysis of the broader issues…Brand, company and personal reputation can change overnight. The speed of today’s business was unimagineable in years past, but its impact is real and protection is the name of the game.”
It is now the end of the week and I promised to mention something about the other half of our results on executive top-tier conferences, especially as the World Economic Forum is happening this week. Nearly three out of 10 industry-leading CEOs spoke at one or more top- tier business events in 2010, according to our new analysis. [For each of the 55 industries identified in the World’s Most Admired Companies survey, Weber Shandwick examined where each CEO spoke in 2010.] Key findings are:
- Among those who took to the podium, the World Economic Forum at Davos was the leading executive speaking platform for industry-leading CEOs.
- The World Economic Forum was followed by the Clinton Global Initiative among our list of Five-Star conferences in 2010. Other forums are below.
|Industry-Leading CEOs’ Top ThreeExecutive Speaking Engagement Venues in 2010|
|(1) World Economic Forum at Davos|
|(2) Clinton Global Initiative|
|(3) Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit (tie)|
|(3) The Wall Street Journal CEO Council (tie)|
|Other Events: (alphabetical order) Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy’s (CECP) Board of Boards, Chief Executives Club of Boston, Milken Institute Global Conference, National Press Club, Wharton Leadership|
- The global economy and outlook was the leading topic for industry-leading CEOs who participated in these events. Other themes included education, gender equality and company- or issue-specific opportunities. What will top executives talk about throughout 2011 if the economy recovers…..perhaps they will focus on their positioning and differentiation and corporate responsibility will rise again in popularity (it has slowed we think). I did hear that regional forums on corporate responsibility are increasing.
Since we always like to look at a different segment of the executive conference business — this year industry-leading CEOs and leading women — we are looking for any ideas for next year. Got my thinking cap on. Let me know what you are thinking too.
Yesterday we released our analysis on where industry-leading CEOs and the most powerful women in business invested their time speaking in 2010. Reputations can be shaped at such top-tier events and company stories can travel the world, if properly socialized. We used to depend on media coverage to get the message out about a speaking platform but with social media at our fingertips today, a speech before 50 people can travel fast to many more influential people than ever imagined. If companies can properly distribute their executives’ speech-making online, they can now realize an even healthier ROI for their executives’ time than ever before. And let’s not forget how much time, resources and energy goes into just one speech or presentation. It is never a walk in the park!
I am going to blog backwards about our findings by starting with what we learned about the most powerful women in business first and get to the industry-leading CEOs later this week. Like we had in grade school, today is backwards day.
I am quite pleased that we decided to look at the most powerful women in business because this is a small, exclusive club that demands further research in the communications field. Greater demand for female leaders was recently underscored when we learned that the World Economic Forum now requests that 20 percent of this year’s strategic partnership delegates be female. That polite request is sure making the rounds because I see it popping up all over. Despite the small sample size of these most powerful women (alas!), we did learn some interesting trends about what they’ve been doing on the speaking circuit over the past 12 months. And they’ve been busy. Here are some snippets from our analysis:
- This elite group of powerful business women was extremely active on the speaking circuit in 2010. A large eight out of 10 (82 percent) spoke at one or more events in 2010.
- In addition, the average number of events that each woman spoke at in 2010 was 3.2 events, with 11 women having spoken at five or more events.
- The leading speaking forums in 2010 for the most powerful women executives included the World Economic Forum, Fortune Brainstorm: Tech, the Women’s Conference (hosted by former California First Lady Maria Shriver and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger), Daily Beast’s Women in the World, and not surprisingly, Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit (although not everyone who makes the list is a speaker). However, there was also a wide range of other types of conferences where top women in business spoke such as Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) Annual Conference, Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) Board of Boards, Milken Institute Global Conference, and The Wall Street Journal CEO Council. Micho Spring, our chair of the Global Corporate practice at Weber Shandwick said: “The vast majority of these women leaders are taking their communications and storytelling roles seriously. There are not only many women’s conferences for female leaders, but many other non-gender specific platforms as well.”
- Leading women executives are out in force. This is quite a broad range which shows that there is demand for these top executives. The types of conferences can be categorized as follows:
|Types of Speaking Engagement Venues Most Powerful Women in Business Spoke in 2010|
|Industry Events (50%)|
|Women’s Leadership Events (43%)|
|Academic Events (40%)|
|Five-Star* Events (35%)|
|Function-Specific (18%) (i.e., ANA Masters of Marketing, NACD Directorship Forum)|
Just as rankings are growing leaps and bounds every year, I see the executive conference business expanding even further. Companies are shaking off the economic woes from the past two years and getting back on the trail to differentiate their companies, narrate their responsibility and possibly turn back the anti-business wave that has beset so many. Conferences have an untapped way of validating companies by tacitly endorsing that their executives have something to say that is meaningful and forward-looking about our collective futures. And women execs are clearly doing their part as well.
Thought I would continue on our research on Socializing Your CEO: From (Un)Social to Social. In addition to analyzing where CEOS engaged online and offline, we examined whether CEOs were speaking at conferences. I have often stated here that the executive conference business seems to be flourishing and I like to follow these kinds of trends. We did find that CEOs were on the speaking circuit and taking advantage of this unique opportunity to engage audiences, network and tell their story. Four in 10 top 50 global CEOs (40%) in our audit gave a speech in 2009, with nearly one in four (23%) speaking at an esteemed Five-Star conference. [Five-Star conferences include forums such as Fortune, Wall Street Journal, Clinton Global Initiative, Forbes CEO conferences and the World Economic Forum.] Weber Shandwick continues to track and research executive conferences which is why we made sure to add this to our list of criteria for Social CEOs.
An interesting side note was that CEO participation in speaking engagements increased with tenure — half of all CEOs in office for five years or more (50%) addressed an external audience through speaking engagements compared to nearly one-third (32%) of those in office three years or less. Clearly, as longer-tenure CEOs begin contemplating their legacies and how to position their companies for the next generation, CEOs take their role as content providers even more seriously. This actually makes sense although I would add that it appears that CEOs are eager to speak at the right venues with the right audiences, regardless of tenure.
Business school forums were chosen by 10% of the leading CEOs audited. As the economy recovers, I expect this type of forum to increase as CEOs go on the campaign trail to attract the best talent. I anticipate a rise in CEO commencement speeches as well since these speeches are readily rebroadcast online as well as being reported in the traditional media. This is a surefire easy way to boost a CEO’s sociability index….repurpose those speeches on the company YouTube channel or web site. No reason not to.
As I mentioned in my last post, our new research on executive placement at the right conferences covered some interesting information on social media. It would be difficult not to explore how executives were using or not using social media to tell their company story in addition to taking the podium. Not surprisingly, the results show that online channels are not being used as effectively as they could.
- The tool most widely used to communicate externally by the C-suite is posting written messages on the company web site (66%). And that is a big step from a few years ago, so this is good news. Despite its widespread usage, executive communications professionals surveyed do not regard C-level web statements to be among the three most effective ways to communicate externally. Instead, the #1 most effective channel, according to respondents, is recorded video on the Web site, followed by live webcasts and blogs.
- Among the social networking tools, Twitter is considered more effective (25%) than Facebook (19%) and LinkedIn (16%) for external C-suite communications. Yet Twitter is woefully under-utilized by executives as a way to connect or communicate. It is reported by only 6% as a means that the C-suite uses to communicate now with external audiences. There is alot of debate about whether execs and CEOs should spend time on Twitter and Facebook. The best answer to the question is “Depends.” It depends on the industry, the regulations governing the industry, whether the company is customer-facing or not, and whether the executive has the time. Few execs have the time to commit and after talking to CEOs, they do not usually have the time. I keep wondering if there is an in-between but have not found one.
Used by C-suite for communicating externally
Rated as effective (rated 4 or 5 on 5-point scale)
|Written message posted on your company’s web site||
|Recorded video posted on your company’s web site||
|Live webcast over your company’s web site||
Video, on the other hand, is a preferred communications channel today because of its ability to viscerally humanize executives. Right now, video of CEOs or other execs talking, interacting, and engaging can go a long way to attracting candidates, putting a human face on the company and just saying, “I’m showing up.”
We at Weber Shandwick just issued a new report on placing senior executives at conferences. As you know, one way of building reputation is to get your senior people, including your CEO, out on the conference trail. Not only is it important for CEOs to be visible in times of economic recovery but the same goes for the senior management teams who can individually support the overall positioning of the company. Years ago I used to refer to the CEO job as that of the narrator CEO — communicating internally and externally about where the company was headed and what the storyline was. Now I have been thinking about reframing that reference to CEO as content provider. It actually makes sense with all the channels available to communicate to employees, customers, media and other stakeholders. Since CEOs have the bully pulpit and are in great demand, they can provide the content that tells your company’s plotline.
I wanted to share some of the findings of our recent research (“From Guessing to Planning: Placing C-Suite Executives in the Most Strategic Forums”) that we did with Vital Speeches of the Day and David Murray, its founder. We both found ourselves at a conference in February on external communications and realized that external executive communications pros appeared anxious about figuring out a process for placing senior executives. Everyone was seeking the holy grail and asking if someone had a better way to judge if a conference was right for an executive and if they had only limited time, which ones were most important. We decided to do a little more digging and here we are. You can find out more here and don’t miss the executive summary either. Here are some key findings:
- Senior executive participation at business leadership conferences has held steady or grown since the start of the global economic crisis, according to nearly three-quarters (73%) of external communications professionals we surveyed in April.
- CEOs, according to those surveyed, consider speaking engagements prime channels for communicating thought leadership platforms (61%), attracting new business and cultivating customer relationships (58%), and defining or redefining brands (52%).
- CEOs are most interested in speaking at top-tier business media events (44%), public policy conferences (41%), and business school gatherings (31%). Jen Risi, my colleague at Weber Shandwick who runs our Voiceboxx practice on executive visibility and conferences, says: “Essentially, this new data validates what we’ve been saying to our clients. While financial media continues to be the preferred outlet for enhancing corporate reputation by executives, the strategic use of high-level speaking opportunities is steadily becoming a close second.”
- One of the bigger messages in the survey was that placement is an art, not a science. Clearly the conference business needs greater metrics and better demonstration of ROI to prove that executives are using their time well. With substantial risk for making a bad recommendation about an appropriate executive conference, communications pros told us they depend upon various resources to confirm their suggestions. Ultimately, they admit that they need to do their own research including networking, monitoring event Web sites, conducting media searches, leveraging agency expertise, and “cold-calling” conference organizations for their schedules. A large 44% report that they have no related processes in place. Of the remaining 56% who say they have a process, confidence in their system is evenly split – exactly half are confident and half are not. All the more reason to call us……
Hope you find the results useful in getting your CEO out there as content provider. Check in tomorrow for more on executive conferences and social media.
As you may know if you follow this blog, Weber Shandwick took a deep look at where executives of the world’s most admired companies spoke in 2009 compared to earlier years. The analysis (Five Star Conferences) showed that executives are ramping up their speaking engagements in an effort to get their messages out and narrate their company stories. At Weber Shandwick, we have a group dedicated to executive engagements that ultimately help boost and solidify company reputations. They are called our Global Strategic Media Group and they do fine work, including the analysis just mentioned! Since my days at Fortune, I have always been fascinated by executive conferences so it is a continuing interest of mine. Executive speaking is definitely one tool in the reputation tool box just like awards and scorecards, among other things.
We thought it would be equally interesting to see what executive communications professionals think about the executive conference scene and teamed with Vital Speeches and David Murray to query this segment. If you are an executive communications professional or executive speechwriter that positions CEOs and other C-level executives at top tier executive conferences, please take several minutes to answer this survey. We would greatly appreciate and will share the results once they are in!