How to Romance the C-Suite: Communicate Results That Resonate


By Rebekah Iliff, Chief Strategy Officer, AirPR

Do you remember the first time you reported PR results to a C-suite executive? With sweaty palms, a beating heart, and just enough adrenaline to make you trip over your words, it’s really not that different than being in love, huh?

Sure, CEOs are far less likely to be wooed than a Tinder date, but there are certain steps you can take to put the odds in your favor when communicating PR results, why they’re important, and how you’ll evolve your strategy based on those findings.

Follow these three steps next time it’s on you to communicate value to decision makers, and you just may find yourself in a very sweet place.

1. Begin by evaluating how much your executive knows about content.

A comic wouldn’t try out new material before taking the temperature of the room, so why would you report PR results to your CEO or C-suite executive without knowing how much they know about content in general?

Think about it in the context of where the industry is today. Today’s PR plans are not PR plans at all, they are robust PESO strategies made up of Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned media. If your CEO used to be a CMO, they’ll likely have quite a bit of knowledge in this area, but not everyone is so lucky and you may need to take this as an opportunity to (respectfully) educate. Use examples to reframe the state of PR today for them, and make sure they know what you’re considering when you evaluate a piece of content or PR initiative.

Tell them that all PR is content, and content is made up of:


  • Earned (publications like The New York Times)
  • Newswires (press releases)
  • Owned (company blogs)


  • Text (long or short form)
  • Video (amateur or professional)
  • Visuals (photos, infographics, etc.)


  • Analytics
  • Insights
  • Benchmarking

Here’s a go-to visual you can use when you need to explain how it all works, to C-suite execs or other cross-divisional partners:

Romancing the C-Suite

2. Only report on what matters.

In our information-rich, digitally-driven environment, we need to continually evaluate and decide what matters most. Think about which pieces of media or content help you properly convey your key messages, reach your desired audience, generate top-of-funnel business leads, and map straight back to your business goals. Those are the pieces to share.

A few tips for reporting:

Top-line and bottom-line it.

  • The best of the month was X, and what this means is Y.

Use numbers to tell the story.

  • This resulted in X% changes month over month, and X% increases…  

Speak to business wins.

  • This is what X activity did for business goal Y.

Share what’s next.

  • With X data, we are going to focus on Y.

What that looks like in real life:

  • Our CNN article drove roughly 4,000 potential customers and nearly 14% of them took some sort of action on
  • Compare that with digital advertising, in which .02% to 2% of ads ever drive someone toward action on Molto impressivo!
  • We increased our earned media coverage by nearly 17% this month, which means more exposure for the brand. What a win!


3. When reporting, always use the 70% Noise Reduction Rule.

In other words, dramatically reduce whatever you’re planning on sharing with your C-level executive. Communicators can be verbose, and we sometimes layer in too much irrelevant information.

Look at everything you thought you needed to say and instead share only 30% of what you were originally going to communicate. Think about how much more of an impact you’ll make when you’ve whittled a 10-slide deck down to 3 slides of impactful data that can help the business immediately.

But don’t take my word for it though. Gerry Tschopp, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at Experian said it well, “I want to know enough about PR ‘wins’ so I can speak to business leaders in key data points or success stories that drive business and reputation. And then communicate every month, how we perform against objectives that support our business strategies.”

In closing, to truly romance your C-suite executives, (metaphorically) text them less.

To learn more about it, join us on April 4th for the free webinar, “Romancing the C-Suite.” How to communicate PR/Marketing value to the C-Suite or to key stakeholders using language and process that resonates with them.

About the Author: Rebekah Iliff is the Chief Strategy Officer for AirPR, a technology platform to increase PR performance. She is currently a columnist for Mashable, Inc., and Entrepreneur, and her contributing writing can be seen in everything from Forbes to the Huffington Post. Additionally, Rebekah frequently moderates and participates on panels focused on the future of PR and big data. In 2014, Rebekah was named by Dell as a “Dell Influencer” and has been asked to sit on industry panels and think tanks dedicated to innovation, technology trends, PRTech, and social good. In 2015, Onalytica, the leading influencer relationship management software company, cited her as one of the Top 100 PR Influencer’s in the world. She holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Loyola University Chicago, and an M.A. in Organizational Management and Applied Community Psychology from Antioch University at Los Angeles (AULA). @rebekahiliff  


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