CEOs at PR Summit: Companies will not grow without investment into Public Relations
Published 10/20/2011
The third PUBLIC RELATIONS SUMMIT with the participation of CEOs from top Czech companies confirmed investments into communication are necessary for company growth and generating trust in its brand.


The biggest expert conference in the area of public relations took place on 19th October in Corinthia Hotel Prague. The topic “PR in the eyes of CEOs” was interesting for two hundred participants, not only communication professionals from companies and PR agencies, but also many CEOs and Managing Directors , who made up 11 % of conference participants.

The opening session was opened by Denisa Kasl Kollmannová, Head of the Department of Communication and PR from the Faculty of Social Sciences at Charles University, presenting research on 'The Influence of CEOs on the Reputation of a Company.' Data documenting the growth of trustworthiness of a CEO and their message about the company were interesting – in the past two years this trust grew by 20 %. Therefore directors are ranked among those who influence the company reputation the most, followed by academics, experts and analysts.

According to other global research, CEOs are considered to have key importance for strengthening the company reputation, transparency, trust, fair business manners, service quality and social responsibility. Likewise, it is felt by CEOs in the Czech Republic, but the difference is that they attach less importance to social responsibility, fair prices and services. 
PR is as everyday as brushing teeth

Francois Vleugels, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Bochemie, introduced his view from abroad. As a Belgian with experience from abroad, he has been based in the Czech Republic for a few years now. He said he feels that communication is mainly creating relationships, sharing values, ideas and dreams. “The key to company success is an open dialogue with employees. If you are creating visions, everything stands and falls with communication and leadership,” Vleugels said.

According to Robert Chvátal, CEO of T-Mobile Austria, PR is more 'an everyday brushing of teeth' than occasional activity. On a few projects, based on Austrian T-Mobile customer activity, he showed that PR is being fully integrated into company communication.

“In Austria it is expected that the CEO will be visible in the media and will speak on behalf of the company. If this role is delegated to a spokesperson, the Austrian public would consider it a disability,” Chvátal said. He also emphasized the role of internal communication, when employees can perfectly support what the company says about itself in public.

Czech view on the domestic market was presented by Dan Ťok, CEO of Skanska. According to him the image of a company is not created firstly in the media but by the way the company operates. “PR should be always for the company and not for its boss, but I feel in Czech some directors see publicity as a lift for their career,” Ťok said. Another situation is in cases of crisis communication when the CEO should stand clearly in the front and become the face of the company. In these moments speed, true argumentation and willingness to fight, as he showed in his recent conflict with the Czech Minister of Transport, is also important.

The morning session was closed by voting for PR Manager of the year 2011. Radek Maršík, Director of Fleishman-Hillard and Vice-President of the Board of APRA, and Marek Hlavica, Communication Consultant, introduced seven nominated personalities. Based on votes from conference participants the winner was Zdeněk Mikulášek, PR Manager of the Family Brewery Bernard, mainly for his share in the campaign “Bernard will not leave you in trouble” targeted against the action of health trade labour unions.
PR is necessary for growth and communication of change

The afternoon discussion panel led by Marek Hlavica, dealt with the question what CEOs expect from PR.

David Vrba, CEO 3M Czech, expects PR activities to enhance awareness of the brand and help it to stand out from the rest. Most discussion participants agreed it is necessary to invest into PR if you want your company to grow. Also the tools of PR are necessary when a company is going through big changes.

“I will gladly give PR a more strategic role, more influence, if it proves an added value to me,” said Luděk Pfeifer, CEO and Chairman of the Board of M.C. TRITON. “But don’t expect me to give you more money for it,” he added with a smile. But then he admitted he is planning to increase investments to PR in the current 'for-growth' strategy of the company.

A big discussion took place about the role of the CEO in company communication. “In a supranational corporation, like SAP, PR cannot be just about one person. In general it seems to me in Czech the role of people in the company management of international companies decreases,” said Roman Teiml, CEO SAP. Luděk Pfeifer emphasized that the CEO should be a personification of corporate values, not only in the company but also in his private life. “There is nothing more devastating than a gap between the behavior of a boss and a codex published on the walls of company corridors.”

Vojtěch Jirků, CEO of EURONEWS, resumed the role of a boss briefly: CEO is an ambassador of a brand. “I’m sure those who communicate well must invest a lot into preparation,” Jirků added.
RIC PIC with Jan Kraus

The conclusion of PR Summit was a presentation contest 'RIC PIC' on the topic “How to best battle Czech corruption by means of PR?” moderated by Jan Kraus. Not only communication experts, but also personalities who are trying to fight the corruption actively in their daily lifes participated. The winner was David Holman from the company Media Age, who pleasantly amused the audience by playing 'devil’s advocate' and gained support with his civil stand of a councilor from the city Kuřim.

Gold partners of the event were companies: AMI Communications and Anopress IT, main media partner the weekly magazine EURO.
For more information please contact:
Antonín Parma
Email:                                                                                            Telephone: +420 222 749 84