PRGN survey shows how European, US media prepare for CEO interviews

An international survey conducted by Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) has unearthed some subtle and interesting differences in the way European and North American business journalists prepare for an interview with a company CEO.

As reported in the influential industry publication PR Daily, the survey examined the requirements, habits and expectations of business journalists when preparing for and conducting interviews with company heads. Journalists on either side of the Atlantic were interviewed as part of the study including 165 leading business and marketing journalists from around Europe.

Perhaps the most interesting difference between the two markets is the role of social media when it comes to interview preparation. LinkedIn (80%), Twitter (70%) and Facebook (64%) are among the first ports of call for North American journalists, whereas in Europe it is much further down the pecking order, with only 16% of journalists using social media as their top source to prepare for an executive interview.

Our fellow PRGN member Anne Buchanan, President of Philadelphia-based Buchanan Public Relations, told PR Daily she is not surprised by how much North American journalists rely on social media in their interview preparations.

“What does surprise me is the number of CEOs who do not have a fully optimised LinkedIn profile,” she commented, adding that having a complete presence across social media platforms “is a prerequisite in today’s digital world”.

The PRGN survey found that North American journalists are much more likely (82%) to use past media coverage as their primary source ahead of a CEO interview, while only 58% of their European counterparts do likewise.

Annual reports are more widely used by European journalists (64%) in researching an interview compared to just over half of North American journalists.

One area where both European and American journalists do see eye to eye is in their expectations of an interview – 94% of US and 92% of European journalists expect a CEO to have “outstanding knowledge of the company and market”.

Meanwhile, arrogance on the part of a CEO is a major no-no on both sides of the Atlantic, with 75% of European journalists and 70% of North American journalists saying that arrogant behaviour is their biggest turn-off in an interview situation.

Based on the findings of the survey, PRGN has issued its top 5 tips for CEOs and company chiefs when preparing for a business interview:

  • Be well versed on your investor and public relations documents
  • Be well informed about what the media have written about you and your company
  • Demonstrate extensive knowledge of the organisation and be conscious of how your judgement affects media judgement
  • Be humble, open and factual
  • Respect the rules of the game for each country regarding media independence

In an  interview with PR Week recently, Cullen Communications MD Owen Cullen told the industry journal that media training and crisis preparation were among the core “ongoing services” that clients request, and he says the PRGN survey contains valuable advice for CEOs and company heads about interview preparation.

“Ongoing training is certainly beneficial in helping clients to feel comfortable and confident in a media situation, but the PRGN research also highlights the importance of preparing for a one-off interview,” he said. “Just as the journalist will do their homework on you and your company – and the survey shows what tools they favour in this regard – so you must do your homework on them. Failure to put that time in can be costly.”

Cullen Communications is Ireland’s sole member of the invitation-only PRGN, and will represent Ireland at the network’s upcoming spring meeting in Seattle

Topics: Blog, interview, Our News, business, media, PR

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