Build an Authentic Executive Presence

By Melanie Vynalek, Senior Account Executive

Leaders play a critical role that requires developing trust with stakeholders, so that they can inspire teams, push forward organizational goals and lead conversations. Building trust with internal and external audiences requires a sound executive presence.

Executive positioning is a strategic approach to defining, establishing and leveraging a leader to create visibility and credibility, and drive influence, within an industry.

An essential component of this approach is thought leadership — producing and pushing out high-quality, data-backed content that establishes a unique point of view, offers expertise and strengthens trust. This content looks different for different leaders and can take various forms, including social media posts, blogs, op-eds, videos, podcasts and more.

When done correctly, the value of thought leadership is far-reaching, for not only an individual, but also their company, organization or industry.

Creating an executive positioning strategy can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re the communications manager assisting a leader, or the leader themselves, begin by asking questions to define your purpose clearly and concisely. Here are a few to help you get started:

1. What are my goals?

Consider the issue areas and priorities you’re focused on, and the goals your team has set for the year, the quarter or a specific project. For example, if you’re increasing traffic to a new site, translate the messaging on this site into your own words and share it with your network through a post or email.

2. Where is my audience?

Meeting audiences where they are is key to reaching them effectively. Consider who you want to see this message. Maybe they’re active on social media, or maybe they’re avid readers of the local news outlets in a specific market. Wherever they may be, ensure that is where your message is placed.

3. What tactics can I utilize beyond a written message?

Thought leadership doesn’t have to just be in writing. Since you’ve already pinpointed where your audience is, consider the in-person or virtual events — or the opportunity to create these events — that would interest them and provide the platform for you to share your message. This could be through a presentation, keynote speech, moderator opportunity, or simply by attending and networking.

4. Am I getting straight to the point?

Put the most important information at the top of your message and tell your audience what you want them to know right away. Doing so will help ensure your point of view is accurately expressed and bolster action.

5. How do I encourage engagement?

When sharing content on social media, ask thought provoking questions and encourage audiences to like, comment, share or follow. If attending or taking part in events, come prepared with information, handouts or talking points to give audiences the opportunity to learn more about you and your organization.

6. How can I determine what works and what doesn’t?

It may take a period of trial and error to verify what works best for you, so analyzing the response of your messages and tactics is key to improving for the next go around. Perhaps posting visuals and real-life, on-the-ground images drives higher engagement than text-heavy content. Maybe engaging partners within the industry through tagging on social media or by coauthoring written pieces results in increased following. Whatever it may be, track the outcome and utilize these findings moving forward.



For the communications manager helping to build and strengthen a leader’s presence:
Ensure you understand their tone of voice, style and what matters to them most. Carefully craft content and recommendations that align with your leader and organization.

For the leader wanting to break into the conversation and be recognized as an expert:
Authenticity is key. Consistently write and speak like the message is coming from you and no one else. Doing so will generate relatable content, strengthening relationships with audiences.

The Adfero POV

Your POV matters! Curating an executive presence and establishing yourself — or your executive — as a thought leader is a powerful tool.

It’s never too early to begin building your approach. Take note of the leaders that inspire you, follow them, and gather advice from mentors and colleagues to help get the ball rolling. We look forward to learning from your POV.

Melanie Vynalek

About the Author

As a senior account executive, Melanie uses this knack for communication and storytelling to translate complex topics into clear, compelling content. Melanie works with public affairs and energy clients to help them achieve their goals through editorial planning, earned media strategies, and digital and advertising execution.

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