Как PR-менеджеру работать с руководителем-иностранцем

How does a PR manager collaborate with a foreign CEO?

You're in luck! You’ve got a job offer in a dream company. And that’s a foreign company. If you prepare to provide PR services, it is very important to bear in mind that now, in addition to your professional competencies, you will also need to understand the features of your new CEO. After all, he is a foreigner!

Promoting a foreign company and working with an expat CEO requires a certain form of preparation. 

It can help to study the specific features of national mentality, work style and values of the country, from which your CEO arrived, and get acquainted with the culture of the company, for which you have to build a PR.

This is one of the main aspects of the PR manager’s activities.

After all, your communication with the Russian public on behalf of a company will be directly supported by the mutual understanding that you can achieve with the CEO.

Moreover, if you are not sure about any solution, it will help to clarify once again, whether you correctly understand your CEO. 

Non-adherence to strict subordination is one of the features of the foreign companies.

The expat will not keep greater distance from the subordinates; you will notice a respectful attitude to each employee. For example, the CEO of the Russian representative office of IKEA does not even have a separate office. Other expats always keep their office’s door open, and the CEO is available to any employee. That would be a big plus for you - the closer the PR manager is to top management, the more chances are that the work on the image will be in a unified manner.  

Another point is the language barrier. It is good, if you are fluent in English, even better if you have a good command of the native language of your CEO. However, this does not cancel the above rule - it’s better to check once again. 

The expats have certain particularities in the communication styles with their employees. For example, an American CEO addresses subordinates on a first-name basis, by name, regardless of their position or status. The USA-born CEOs are very active, polite and often smile. They are ready to evaluate an employee and advance him according to his deserts. They are very scrupulous with female colleagues. It is easy to prepare such a CEO for communication with the media and you won’t have to blush for him at a press conference or press scrum.

The managers from Germany address employees formally, are pedantic, do not like to be distracted by little things. You will have to be as independent as possible. You may even give interviews on behalf of the company yourself. The key is to keep the German boss informed. The major asset is the Germans are trying not to focus on the mistakes of subordinates. However, you shouldn’t take full advantage of that.

In the mornings, the French shake hands with each employee, starting with the youngest according to rank. This is an excellent contribution to the corporate culture of the company. They are polite and have excellent communication skills. Journalists will enjoy the interview.

 The Finns often invite employees of different ages and status for breakfast to find out their opinions on an issue concerned. You can invite the media to one of these events (if only it is planned more carefully). A non-trivial format will attract journalists and help show the company to the best advantage. 

The UK-born CEOs are very amiable and friendly with their employees. They are punctual and do not tolerate other attitude toward punctuality. Do not be late yourself and do everything possible to ensure that any arrangements with the media and events are on time. It will show you in the best light not only in the opinion of your CEO. 

The foreign CEOs will appreciate your ambitions and desire to learn and go forward. One more point is the foreigners do not like to mix business relations and private life. They will not be much interested in your private life.

Keep in mind that the expats have somewhat different attitude to corporate holidays. They treat them like a job. And the boundaries of behaviour here are the same as in the office.

So even if you have a scheduled press event with champagne, please warn the journalists that this is not a reason to fall on your boss’s neck or ask him for details of his private life.

It is both difficult and interesting to collaborate with a foreign CEO. Please, be large-hearted and believe that your boss is also having a rough time: differences in language, mentality, and lifestyle form the environment, where he has to make serious decisions on a daily basis. Your help will be very useful to him. Professionalism, tolerance, respect to the foreign CEO will allow you to easily find common ground with him and create an effective PR strategy.

 In summary, the principles to make your collaboration with the foreign CEO a success are as follows:

  • readiness to go forward and learn new things
  • attention to detail (the difference in mentalities may harbour many clues)
  • remember the language barrier (constant practice and regular clarification of the task set will speed you)
  • studying how business works in the homeland of your boss and using it in your daily work
  • painstaking preparation for press events (walk through everything in detail, even the things, which seem obvious)
  • clear delineation between work and private life (this is the way the things are done here)
  • punctuality

and certainly

  • spirit of optimism