Support for the Onboarding of a New CEO
In 2020, the Florida High Tech Corridor (The Corridor) – a state-funded economic development initiative of the University of Central Florida, the University of South Florida and the University of Florida – welcomed its fourth leader in 24 years. Despite limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic, the new CEO needed to quickly gain social capital in a broad and dynamic innovation ecosystem, where leadership influence is essential to facilitating partnerships among many natural competitors that must collaborate on initiatives to advance the high tech economy.
Our aim was to:
- Facilitate personalized outreach via email or phone/Zoom by the new CEO to all Corridor staff and key stakeholders within the first 30 days of his start date;
- Generate at least 400 unique views of the personnel announcement on The Corridor’s website (20% higher than views of our most-read online story) within 30 days of publication; and,
- Secure stories in at least four outlets read by our target publics within 90 days of the personnel announcement.
Curley & Pynn leveraged the CEO’s hiring announcement and first day on the job as key milestones in our communications plan. An in-depth interview with the new CEO informed our messaging, which we developed to inspire trust, demonstrate credibility and address any anticipated concerns with the leadership transition. Prior to the public hiring announcement, we helped the interim director draft and distribute a memo announcing the new CEO to key stakeholders. Then, we developed and distributed a news release to business reporters at outlets read by the target audience, shared the news on social media and sent a special edition email to The Corridor’s newsletter subscriber database.
Following the hiring announcement, Curley & Pynn facilitated introductions between the incoming CEO and target publics via email and on Zoom. Additionally, as his first day approached, we worked with him to produce a video message reaching target publics through a variety of channels. We carefully crafted message points to build trust, communicating intent to honor the organization’s legacy of nearly 25 years while approaching the inflection point – both in terms of a leadership transition and pandemic – as an opportunity for innovation. Heeding research, we did not fully script the video, but offered a simple outline. On the CEO’s first day, we published the video message on the website, shared it on social media and sent it via email.
By July 1, the CEO completed outreach to all primary target publics via email distribution and phone/Zoom calls. The hiring announcement was viewed 562 times (162 above objective) within 30 days of publication – this number grew to over 1,000 unique views through years’ end. Plus, the video message generated an additional 241 unique views and led to a spike in social media engagement, particularly on LinkedIn. We also successfully secured stories in six outlets read by the target publics (two above objective), including the Orlando Business Journal, Brevard Business News, Tampa Bay Inno and Florida Trend. In total, coverage of the hiring announcement generated 3.6 million impressions.
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