Putting the “Success” into Succession Using Social Media

The transition from one CEO to another is a difficult feat for both internal an external publics, as everyone stands on edge hoping for a smooth transition from one leader to another. Many questions arise during the succession of a CEO or other leader of a company. How will the company change under the new leadership? Will this CEO be as good as our last one? Will staff or customers abandon the company if they don’t like our new CEO?


As the public relations practitioner, we need to ensure that all leaders stay on the same page throughout the transition and convey this message to employees and customers. There also needs to be a consensus among these stakeholders that the choice and process of coming to a decision for the new leader is fair and fits the company’s needs and vision. Risks need to be minimal and precautions need to be in place to handle these risks.

So, how can social media alleviate these leadership shifts? In an age where stakeholders expect information quickly and efficiently during a time of change, social media acts as that hand to hold and exchange information with key publics. If customers have questions, this is the perfect place to answer them. This two-way communication is essential during a CEO succession, as it shows the company is transparent and cares about the feelings and needs of its stakeholders; that these stakeholders can trust the company has his or her best interests in mind.


Recently, Yahoo has experienced the process of CEO succession with bumps and bruises along the way. With the quickly changing hands of power in the CEO process, many have been left to question the stability of the company. Despite the lack of accountability, the company has not used their social media outlets, such as Twitter and Facebook. Unfortunately, this has left Yahoo users unsure of the company’s stability and seem to lack clear goals as an organization. By neglecting to use these outlets, they cut off the hand that social media offers: opportunity to make direct connections and build trust they need during a CEO succession. 

For companies like Yahoo, social media can be intimidating because it leaves the gates open to questioning and speculation. However, as PR practitioners, it is our job to use this vulnerability as an opportunity to build relationships with our publics and show that we are willing to answer the difficult questions to make our stakeholders feel comfortable and safe about the transition. By taking stakeholders through the process of a CEO succession, we ensure they know about all changes made within the company and feel safe and secure about the change. Sharing the changes and improvements made by the CEO change also make great content during a CEO succesion. Ultimately, in a time of instability, social media is that shoulder to lean on and provide a sense of peace for stakeholders.




Pitch Perfect: 3 Takeaways from The Final Project

For our final project in PRL 215, we had to collaborate with members of the class and create a strategy for improving the reputation of Syracuse University. While group projects can sometimes present a challenge, working in a group and observing other presentations taught me so much about PR and group work in general. So, what was lessons have I learned from trying to master the perfect pitch?

1. More Team Members = More Brain Power

I feel blessed that my team was extremely diligent and worked hard to create a great idea and presentation. Without them, the results would not have been as creative. Each person brought something unique to the table in terms of background, talent and skills, which ultimately made our group and project stronger. In Public Relations, we often work on teams and need to understand how to utilize the skills of each group member. This exercise improved my teamwork skills and showed me the power of collaborating powerful minds. I wish that we had more group projects this semester; it would have been a great way to get to know my classmates and their talents.

2. The Shorter, the Sweeter

For me and other members of my generation, 25 minutes is — sadly but truly — far too long to sit and listen to a pitch. If you needed that much time then you didn’t have a clear focus and understanding of your goals for the client. In this world where information is constantly thrown at audiences, we need to be sure we deliver them concisely and with lasting impression. One of the groups in Professor Kucharavy’s class had an especially powerful beginning, which caught the attention of the audience and kept the audience entertained throughout the presentation. This needs to be maintained to really sell the idea and your PR team as the right ones for the job.

3. Learn By Doing

Actively working on projects like these are the most invaluable experiences you can have. The best way to understand the trials and tribulations of the PR industry is to be thrown into the situation under a deadline and figuring out how to make everything work. I loved doing this project not only because of my group, but because I am understanding my own strengths and weaknesses in terms of group work and public presenting. I know I sometimes speak too fast, but now I know the power of my creative mind is helpful for the more artistic aspects of PR. Watching other groups succeed or stumble through their presentations helps me understand what I want to incorporate into my own practices. I truly hope that the class integrates more simulations like these, because they are essential to helping a budding PR professional grow.