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Your brand is like a bus: Feel free to hand over the keys to someone else, but take it out for a spin now and then.

A CEO or MD of a business has lots of responsibilities.  As a small business owner myself, I know the pressure that comes with all the facets of running a business and managing staff.

We are supposed to have all the skills of a lawyer, accountant, marketer, human resources manager, designer, communications expert and events manager, on top of delivering the product or service we are offering to clients.

One of my early lessons in business was to understand what I do best and leave the experts to what they do best.  If I did not have the skillset required or needed in a particular part of the business, I would look for the person that could fill that role.  But there’s one area that cannot be entirely outsourced or delegated by a boss, and that is communications and marketing.

You might have a team that takes care of the day-to-day marketing and communications, but CEOs and MDs need to be across the strategy and delivery if they have a chance to take their brand to the next level via media.

Think of your brand and business like a bus.  You can give the keys of your brand bus to another person, but that bus still belongs to you, so make sure you know how to drive it.  All business owners have a brand bus, and it is imperative that they have a licence, know how to drive it, and take it out for a spin now and then to keep the engine humming.

One of the biggest problems I see when it comes to how business owners run their media relationships relates to when they hand them off entirely to staff.

Everything else might be lined up and ready to go. The business owner has good intentions, the stories are there to be told, and we are on hand to pitch stories to media. But often, the marketing manager who has been handed the brand bus keys isn’t letting us jump on board to help them navigate.

Sometimes, the marketing manager won’t deliver the stories, imagery or case studies we need in order to get the business media coverage. Sometimes they won’t give us any access to the business owner or an expert who the media wants to talk to.  Sometimes, marketing managers won’t even respond to our calls and emails.

Do business owners know about this level of sabotage? Often, they don’t.

Maybe the marketing manager feels their job is threatened by an external provider, or they don’t want to share the positive feedback when the business does get media coverage.  The motivation might change, but the source of the problem is always the same. Namely, the gate-keeping marketing manager.

We see this all too often. The ego and attention of the one managing the marketing getting in the way of the success of the brand.  So, what’s the solution?

All business owners need to take responsibility for and understand the functionality and basics of marketing and communications. Marketing is such a crucial element of the success of a brand, and if we aren’t projecting our stories and messages to our target audience, who will?

As a business owner and the expert, make sure you are involved in and work with the team to understand the campaigns and the individuals running them.  Get familiar with the challenges, the targets, and the assets you have.  As a business owner, you don’t want to be asleep at the wheel of your brand bus.

Another way to assess the health and effectiveness of the marketing team is to get outside eyes to come in and have a look at the operations.  Fresh eyes and new ideas are always a good path to take when understanding the very thing that might seem foreign to you now.

Any successful business leader will tell you that your people are your best assets, and those words are universal across all industries.  Taking an active interest and understanding all facets of your business is critical for all leaders, but the communications and marketing might just be the most important.

It is something that can go horribly wrong if the bus is being driven by someone who isn’t capable in the role.

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