Writing a successful CEO profile
As an employee in an multifaceted company, you wear many hats. Today you’ve been casually asked to write a profile which highlights your CEO. You have no idea how it’s going to be used, only that you’ve been asked to write it. How do you start?
What is a business profile?
A profile is a short piece of writing used in a variety of ways. It may be used to educate employees, the media and public about your CEO’s achievements and background. Or it may announce a special contribution, award or retirement. Profiles are typically used in company newsletters, press releases, yearly reports, at events, or in national trade publications.
Plan your process
Writing a business profile is a wonderful opportunity to get to know your CEO better. However that doesn’t mean the process is going to be simple. Writing can be difficult. And it’s also likely your boss has limited time – so it may even be tough to schedule an appointment to ask your questions. But success in this first step in getting the information you need to write your profile is essential. So make the time count.
- Identify your objective. Ask how the profile will be used. Will it be used to garner media attention or educate employees? Will it brand your CEO in the community or be used to elevate your company’s reputation? Is the end product a long-term report or publication or a quick announcement? If you get answers to these questions before interviewing your CEO, you’ll know how in-depth your questions need to be – and this will make your job easier.
- Schedule a brief meeting. Arrive fully prepared with direct questions
- Stay on topic – This is not meant to be a social chat – you have a goal of getting enough information to write a great profile.
Ask the right questions
Your CEO’s “personality” leads the company’s reputation. Is your leader gregarious and extroverted or studious and serious? Lead by example or driven by results? These “personality” descriptors will allow readers to see your leader in a personal way. So start with questions about your leader’s background, education, and personal/company mission – and include personality traits.
- Direction – Ask the leader what he/she plans to do or has done to enhance the company or organization’s reputation in the community.
- Influence – Ask if the leader had a mentor or someone who personally influenced their leadership direction and philosophies – and summarize the story as part of your leaders’ “personality” description
- Background – If your leader has lived and worked in the community for many years, ask how this person has become a leader in the community. Include any education, certifications and specialized training. Ask how the leader feels his/her work and volunteer experience supports their current endeavors.
- Results – Show genuine interest in the answers.
Write the work
How much time you’ve been given to write the work will determine your process. There will be times you’ll have to just race something out the door and hope for the best outcome! Ideally, however, you’ll be given enough time to thoughtfully write, edit, review, and distribute your work. Consider the following when crafting your final piece.
- Incorporate testimonials – Include comments from others, both personally and professionally, to show your leader’s strengths as a boss, employee and person of caring and integrity.
- Grab your reader’s attention – Statistics show you have seven seconds to make an impression on your reader. So make your headline and lead paragraph count! Give some thought to what your reader might find appealing by imagining yourself reading the profile. For example, the title “XYZ has a new leader” is far less compelling than “Leading entrepreneur offers new vision to XYZ”
- Include only necessary information – Gauge the “weight” of the information you need. For example, a profile of someone who is retiring will require more information about background, education, and family than one highlighting a recent achievement
- Proof and Re-write – If given time, it’s always a good idea to let your CEO proof what you have written. Also, if you are not a strong writer, identify someone who is to double-check your profile for grammar and spelling. Remember spell-check is not infallible. It will tell you if a word is spelled incorrectly but it doesn’t check proper word usage.
- Use the correct format- If writing for the newspaper or a national publication, your name, number and email contact should appear at the top of the communication. The media also prefers you send your information in the body of an email, not as an attachment. Use single spacing within paragraphs. For profiles read at a retirement event, write them as you would a letter, double-spaced between paragraphs.
Finally, relax during the interview. The purpose of the profile is to make both your boss and the company look good. The extent to which you can be comfortable, direct, organized, and thorough will impact the success of your final piece.
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