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Be Human, Be You: 3 Tips for Leaders to Bring the Human Element Forward

Nikeisha Maddox


We kicked off the month of February by bringing back our annual Corporate and Executive Comms webinar to help comms teams update their strategies in line with the latest media and stakeholder priorities. This webinar centered on ways to bring the human element forward, both as an executive and as a communications professional advising other leaders. Our team of Corporate and Exec Comms specialists delivered an insights-packed discussion detailing industry analysis and recommendations on how to bring the human element forward based on examples of some of the best (and worst) leadership moments over the past year.  

You can watch the full webinar on-demand or you can take a look at the three tips we pulled from the webinar to consider when advising your own executives, summarized below. 

Let’s dive in to the first tip, detailing the “3 A’s.” 

Utilizing ‘Triple A’ As Your Communications Insurance 

How do you effectively reach all your stakeholders, have a say on important societal issues, maintain business progress, and not sound like a communications robot?  That’s what the “3 A’s” are created to answer. Our roles as comms professionals have evolved and are not limited to media relations, content plans and executive statements; our work is more pivotal than ever for supporting really essential and financially impactful parts of the business. 

The 3 A’s are meant to act as a guide to resilient leadership, which create the framework for an effective comms strategy. These include accountability, authenticity and action.

We think of the 3 A’s in a triangle because they all must work in tandem in order to be truly effective. The idea is to bring the 3 A’s into all of your strategies and plans, so your leaders can be resilient in the face of major or unexpected challenges, as we’ve seen plenty of. 

In short, here is the key takeaway and actionable next step for each attribute: 

  • Accountability – What executives and organizations say in response to and anticipation of critical topics matters to stakeholders and to media – but so does what leaders actually do after their statements. Create a mission statement to inform how your Corporate and Exec Comms strategies will be held accountable to your values and consider this a constantly evolving part of your strategy.  
  • Authenticity – Authenticity is a feeling, not a box to check. This is the point where your comms strategy becomes humanized. Communicate your values from an informed place and build your speaker bench in alignment to who communicates most naturally and authentically for each topic, rather than what job title aligns with a topic. 
  • Action – We don’t want our spokespeople to be media-trained robots. They’re real people and real people have stories that inspire support and action from others simply by being human. Don’t stop at media training executives on how to land marketing messages – add leadership and values-alignment coaching to help them tell their story.  

While the 3 A’s offered the overall framework for the presentation, the team also touched on the next key tip to consider for your executives: Change.  

Spare some change? (Though It’s Not Enough) 

Phrases like ‘new normal,’ ‘pivot’, and ‘uncertain times’ have somewhat ironically become the status quo, but that doesn’t mean leaders aren’t challenged with managing an onslaught of changes faster and better than ever. How do we adapt? The philosophy that our team embodies is that you can’t only change in real-time or in response to situations as they emerge. Executives and their organizations really have to do the work – and show the work – for how they are transforming for the long term.  

Change is simply not enough and needs to be seen and felt both internally and externally. The last key tip we’ll touch on is tied to the external audience executives must stay connected with: Media.  

Connecting with the Media  

To round out the great list of tips provided by the team, here is the final one we’ll touch on: Effectively preparing your executive leaders to connect with today’s media.  

As noted in the presentation, the priority driving business and tech publications is that they want to pull in experts and voices in these new vertical, business-focused areas that are impacting individuals, consumers and people.  

YouTube has been a growing area for publications like The Wall Street Journal, which has been pulling in a number of reporters and launching very specific channels for reporters like Dalvin Brown and Daniela Hernandez. These types of reporters are focusing on pulling in these younger generational audiences like Gen Z and producing more visual content and storytelling. 

What’s really interesting to see is how these publishers are building back and being forced to maneuver across the new landscape as new competitors emerge. For example, we’ve seen influencers on Twitch beat out established publications like the Financial Times, Insider and The Wall Street Journal, for the first interview with a major sports team. 

The bottom line in today’s media world is that communications leaders must get familiar with the new ways in which publications are operating and meet them where they are. This includes uncovering their desired audiences to gauge how they’re shifting and pinpointing the nuances of the experiences and beats of new hires to better inform and prepare your executive for sharing content that matters most to them.  

Final Thoughts 

In short, the main tips to consider as you guide your executive include implementing the 3 As – accountability, authenticity and action – recognizing that change alone is not enough, and adjusting your comms strategies to connect with the shifting media landscape.   

We encourage you to watch the now on-demand webinar here or check out some of our other Executive Comms insights here, and we look forward to sharing our new perspectives into executive and corporate communications next year!