May 7, 2014
Addressing PR Challenges as the New Guy
Any time a company faces any sort of changes there will be questions to answer. Public relations is vital at this juncture to provide a positive narrative, and alleviate any potential consumer doubts. But, what if you are the new guy coming in? You don’t know the culture, and you don’t really know all the challenges you may face…what does that look like, and what sort of PR skills will you need to fill the shoes of the “old guy,” while still putting your personal signature on operations?
Ronn Torossian answers these questions through the experience of recently hired Yum! Brands CEO, Greg Creed. Yum! Brands owns KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut, among other holdings. Creed is replacing David Novak. The outgoing CEO is a well-respected and successful executive who steered the company for fifteen good years. This exchange of power provides a strong example of how to do it right, and how the new guy can use positive PR in multiple ways to help smooth the transition.
Emphasizing similarities is job one. You want both investors and employees to remain as comfortable as possible, so emphasizing the good attributes of the old regime that will continue is a smart move. But, you also want to make sure you don’t come off looking like an interchangeable cog in the machine.
The “new” aspect of the exchange should not be downplayed in service to the old. The positive growth and differences should be celebrated. This is best done not by immediately announcing “Big Changes,” but by celebrating past successes that could benefit the new company. In this case, Creed saw great success working with Taco Bell on the successful “Fourth Meal” concept, and the new, and so far well received, breakfast options.
This is a fine line to walk, but necessary if you want to be successful. Whatever the pros and cons of the exchange of power, you want to emphasize those good things that will continue, while also celebrating the new energy and creative or administrative dynamics that will lead the company toward continued success.