Perspectives

Top Takeaways: 2019 Leadership & Executive Communications Conference

Brunswick Group’s Washington, D.C. office co-hosted the 2019 Leadership & Executive Communications Conference in conjunction with Ragan Communications.  More than 100 leading communications executives heard presentations and panels from their peers, representatives from social media companies and Brunswick partners including Craig Mullaney, George Little, Bill Pendergast and Siobhan Gorman.  The hot topic was equipping today’s executives for an increasingly digital world and the opportunities and challenges presented by Connected Leadership. We captured the highlights for the broader community.

Top Takeaways: 

  1. Video content is three times more engaging than other forms of content on LinkedIn according to LinkedIn’s Senior News Editor’s Devin Banerjee’s workshop on editorial best practices for getting the most out of executive communications on the platform.  Pro tip: the first six seconds of any video are the most critical for grabbing (and holding) a viewer’s attention.   

  2. Gain leadership buy-in and trust by demonstrating how digital supports business goals. Kaydee Bridges, Vice President, Digital and Social Media Strategy with Goldman Sachs discussed how challenging it can be to bring a brand to life online, particularly through the lens of senior executives.  To gain buy-in and engagement from her leadership she demonstrated to them that social media communications supported organizations goals overall and adopted a ‘crawl, walk, run’ approach to ease into social media and build content programs and followers consistently.

  3. Lead by example, win with purpose. The closing keynote was delivered by Blake Jackson, Senior Director, Global Communications-Digital Engagement and Micah Laney, Senior Manager, Social Strategy both with Walmart.  They presented on Leading by Example: Harnessing Your Executive’s Digital Presence to Engage and Inspire – revealing the strategy and tactics which earned Walmart CEO Doug McMillon the top spot on Brunswick’s 2019 Connected Leadership Index.  Blake and Micah explained that one of the keys to Doug’s success is to focus on a strong purpose in his digital communications. His purpose is to connect to Walmart’s millions of employees and to help people who need it.  This clarity of purpose allowed Doug to build strong, authentic connections with employees across social platforms. 

  4. Build Hill relationships before you need them. We learned from George Little and Bill Pendergast, partners at Brunswick with three decades of experience preparing executives for Congressional testimony.  In their workshop they emphasized laying the groundwork by building relationships over time.  Some executives may think they do not need to prepare for this circumstance as subject matter experts in their own industries, however the dynamics of a hearing are complex and unlike any other industry or media engagement. Every step from the time an executive leaves their house to travel to DC to how they address members of Congress to how they follow up will count.

  5. Preparation is king during a cyber crisis, and there is an increased trend in companies transparently disclosing an incident. Siobhan Gorman moderated a panel on Cyber and the C-Suite with Amy Mushahwar of Alston & Bird and Eben Kaplan with Crowdstrike. A company’s public response can be critical to its reputation and have significant bottom-line impact, so scenario planning and preparing for the worst is critical. 

One of the overarching takeaways is that the evidence is clear – there is an unparalleled opportunity and an increasing expectation for business leaders to connect using digital and social media. 

To learn more about Connected Leadership, visit: https://www.brunswickgroup.com/perspectives/connected-leadership/