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World Class Communication: How great CEO's win with the public, shareholders, employees, and the media

ISBN: 978-1-118-23005-3
218 pages
October 2012
World Class Communication: How great CEO


Proven advice for communicating effectively before the media, customers, employees, and investor relations

Many executives focus too narrowly on the financial side of their business and neglect the importance of communicating with their employees, the media, and the public. World Class Communication equips you with crisis lessons, procedures, and examples that could help your company save millions of dollars through proper preparation and response. The must-have book every CEO needs, World Class Communication is packed with examples of good and bad handling of countless situations and expert instruction on how to manage them without breaking into a sweat.

  • Reveals the keys to successful shareholder communication
  • Tips for winning in the media—every time out
  • Expert tips for developing powerful public speaking techniques
  • Discover how to rally employee support and performance through communication

There is a great, and often irrational, fear of the media among CEOs, with too few executives truly knowing how to deliver a message effectively in an interview. World Class Communication delivers the necessary tools and techniques you need to communicate your message to your target audience—from shareholder meetings to corporate communications to handling crises.

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Table of Contents

Foreword xiii

Preface xv

Acknowledgments xvii


CHAPTER 1 The Scudder Method 3

The Key Elements 4

The Communication Funnel 5

Headline-Elaborate-Detail 8

The Path to Being a Great Communicator 9

CHAPTER 2 You Are a Brand: Make It the Right One 11

Image5Brand 12

Finding the Right Brand for You 13

The CEO’s Presence 13

Your Look 14

Public Appearances 15

Philanthropy and Your Brand 15

Public Behavior Affects Your Brand 16

Your Internal Brand and Investor Image 17

CHAPTER 3 Active Listening: A Critical Management Tool 19

Asking the Right Questions 19

Listening to Advisors 20

The Price of Not Listening 21

Voices from Inside Your Organization 23

Listening Sets Your Corporate Culture 24

Talking, and Listening, to Yourself 24

Hearing the Outside Voices 26

Listening to Anonymous Voices 26

Notes 27

CHAPTER 4 Customs, Culture, and Language Count: Engage Humbly 29

Learn the Local Business Customs 30

Your Company’s Culture 31

Regional Cultures 33

CHAPTER 5 Where’s the CCO? 35

PR Must Report Directly to the CEO 35

What Does Corporate Public Relations Do? 36

Working with Your Head of Communications 37

Principles of Good PR 39

CHAPTER 6 Words Matter 41

“Strong” versus “Growing Stronger” 41

Lose the MBA Phrasebook 42

The Right Word Can Preempt Problems 43

The Wrong Words Last a Lifetime 44

At This Point in Time . . . 44

The Right Words in Another Language 46

CHAPTER 7 Be Strong: Apologize 49

Dangers of Not Apologizing 49

Who Should Hear Your Apology? 51

What Should an Apology Include? 52

Notes 53


CHAPTER 8 Investors: Handle with Care 57

Credibility and Transparency Rule 57

Quarterly Earnings Calls 58

Emerging Issues and Trends 65

Investor Days 66

The Annual Meeting 67

Face-to-Face Contact 69

The Worst Earnings Call Ever? 69

Notes 70

CHAPTER 9 Employees: A Vital Audience 71

Face-to-Face Is Best 72

The Personal Touch 73

Using Today’s Resources 74

Two Good Small-Scale Examples 75

Note 76

CHAPTER 10 CEOs and Boards: Times Have Changed 77

Successful Partnership 78

Meeting the Board Face-to-Face 78

Relationships and Persuasion 79

What Your Board Gives You 80


CHAPTER 11 The News Media: Opportunity and Peril 85

More Places and Opportunities to Appear 85

You Have to Appear 86

CHAPTER 12 Winning in the Media 89

How to Judge a Media “Winner” 89

Your Purpose in an Interview 90

Taking Control of the Interview 91

A Common Trap 94

Framing the Issues 95

Preparing Your Messages 96

General Motors Example 98

The Preparation Process 101

The “Cosmetics” of Being Interviewed 103

The News Conference 105

The Ambush Interview 106

Is It Worth It? 107

Note 108

CHAPTER 13 Media Training: A Modern Day Necessity 109

Principles of Media Training 110

Preparing for Positives and Negatives 110

Uses Outside of Media Interviews 111

Devote Enough Time to Training 112

Finding the Right Trainer 113

The CEO’s Media Training Session 113


CHAPTER 14 Public Speaking: Power, Persuasion, and Good Will 117

Face-to-Face Still Matters 117

The Power of Public Speaking 118

Use the Pile Driver 119

CHAPTER 15 Winning at the Lectern 121

Variety Is the Spice of Speaking 122

Physicalities of Speaking 124

Regard the Turtle 127

Conquering Nervousness 128

Next Steps 130

CHAPTER 16 Fielding the Questions: Challenge and Opportunity 131

Why Do Q&A? 131

Preparing for Q&A 132

Making Your Points in Q&A 133

Handling the Tough Questioner 134

Ending the Q&A 135

CHAPTER 17 Speechwriter and Speaker: A Critical Alliance 137

Analyzing the Audience 138

Your Key Messages 140

Rehearsing the Talk 141

Finding the Right Writer 141

Telling Stories 142

Breaking Some Rules 144

The Post-Mortem 145

Note 146

CHAPTER 18 Humor: A Powerful Tool, but Handle with Care 147

Risks of Humor 147

Connecting Humor to Your Points 148

The Humorous Style 149

Telling the Joke 150

Note 151


CHAPTER 19 The Role of Philanthropy: Doing Well by Doing Good 155

Benefits of Philanthropy 155

External and Internal Benefits 156

Finding Your Philanthropy Partner 157

How Philanthropy Helps Your Corporate Image 158

Notes 159

CHAPTER 20 Advocating for Your Company 161

Working with Trade Associations 161

Benefits of Professional Groups 162

Direct CEO Involvement 163

Your Advocacy Messages 163


CHAPTER 21 Crisis: A CEO’s Supreme Test 167

Similar Incidents, Different Responses, Different Results 168

Types of Crises 169

Crisis Preparation 171

What to Do When Crisis Hits 173

What the Media Need 175

What You Must Say in a Crisis 177

The Forgotten Audience in a Crisis 178

After the Crisis 179

CHAPTER 22 Hostile Takeovers: The Wolf at the Door 181

Fighting Goliath 182

Your Employees during the Battle 182

Communicating and the Legal Side 183

CHAPTER 23 Turnarounds: Righting the Ship 185

The “Plan to Have a Plan” 186

The Gillette Example 187

How They Did It 188

CHAPTER 24 Government Hearings: Don’t Be Nervous. Don’t Be Flustered. Be Prepared 191

A Grueling Ordeal 192

Preparing for the Firing Line 192

The BP Example 193

The McGwire Example 199

“Winning” in the Hearing 202

EPILOGUE Are We There Yet? Good Leaders Know the Answer 205

About the Authors 209

Index 211

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Author Information

VIRGIL SCUDDER, president of Virgil Scudder & Associates, has trained and counseled heads of major corporations for over thirty years, serving in two dozen countries on five continents. Often referred to as "the dean of media trainers," he is a prolific writer and speaker. From his New York base, he regularly comments on current management issues on his blog and in his quarterly column, "In the C-Suite," which appears in each issue of The Public Relations Strategist.

KEN SCUDDER is a writer and communication trainer and consultant. He cofounded Virgil Scudder & Associates in 1990 and, along with having bottom-line responsibility for the office, has conducted media, crisis, and presentation training programs in the U.S., Africa, and Europe.

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Press Release

October 08, 2012
Veteran Coach of CEOs Reveals all in New Guide to Being an Effective Communicator

What do successful CEOs like Kraft’s Irene Rosenfeld, Gillette’s Jim Kilts, Time Warner Cable’s Glenn Britt, Volvo Group of Sweden’s Olof Persson, and shopping center developer Robert Taubman have in common?  All of these executives employed strong communication skills to steer successfully through setbacks and crises and increase their company’s reputations and bottom lines.  Conversely, leaders of organizations like BP, Toyota, Pennsylvania State University and MF Global made bad situations worse through communication failures and blunders.

            “In business and in life, communication skills often mark the difference between winning and losing,” says Virgil Scudder, a New York-based media trainer who has coached and counseled business leaders for more than 30 years.  “As we’ve so often seen, failing to communicate effectively at critical times can be devastating to the fortunes of a person or an organization.”

            In his new book, World Class Communication: How great CEOs win with the public, shareholders, employees, and the media (Wiley; 49.95; October 2012), Scudder draws on his experiences in coaching and advising some of the world’s most successful corporate heads.

            The book includes tips for navigating through a crisis, increasing employee loyalty and morale, and building a successful career.  It is a practical guide, complete with real case studies, specific instructions and motivational tips that will be valuable to anyone who wants to communicate better by learning from the best. 

            World Class Communication reveals in detail the secrets of The Scudder Method, a system that many top CEOs have used to become great communicators.

                “It’s been estimated that 90 percent of a CEO’s job is communication,” said Scudder, “and for any other manager, I think the figure would be at least 75%.”

            Irene B. Rosenfeld, the CEO who turned around a struggling Kraft Foods, agrees.  She noted, “As the ‘face’ of our company, my words are carefully scrutinized every time I speak, and they often live in perpetuity in cyberspace.  It’s not only what I say that matters; it’s also how I say it. A hesitation, the wrong tone, or even an unconscious gesture on my part can affect our stock price.

            “That’s where Virgil Scudder comes in. For years, he has capably advised my executive team and me. That expertise is now compiled in this thoughtful and instructive book.”

            James M. Kilts, the former chairman and CEO of The Gillette Company, said, “The Scudder Method works for giving confidence, power, and persuasiveness to any communicator.  The skill that Virgil brings to his one-on-one training sessions is now available in his exceptional book that covers all the bases to achieve world class communication success.”



Virgil Scudder, who wrote the book in collaboration with his son and business associate, Ken Scudder, has coached and counseled clients in more than two dozen countries on five continents. He has headed his own firm, Virgil Scudder & Associates, since its founding in 1990, after leading the media training units of two of the world’s largest public relations firms, Carl Byoir & Associates and Hill & Knowlton. Prior to that, Scudder was an award-winning news broadcaster at major New York radio and television stations and networks.  He can be reached at virgil@virgilscudder.com, www.virgilscudder.com.




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