Bruce Todd, Crown’s senior video producer, outlines his secrets for success in tackling this important but often tricky assignment.

Chief Executives should be effective communicators. By definition, they are responsible for executing the organisation’s strategy, and that involves communicating what that strategy is, how it’s to be achieved, and inspiring the people who will actually carry it out.

But there’s often a big gap between the ideal and reality.

So how can everyone involved get the most out of the on-screen appearances of the Chief Executive?

The comms team

Choose your project carefully – make sure your message really is an important one, likely to seize the Chief Executive’s time and attention.

Plan well ahead if you can. Prepare the ground with the Chief Exec’s office – get their buy-in and involve them in your plan for pitching to the Chief Exec.

Get a date, and an alternative, in the diary. And allow plenty of time for the recording. It can’t be rushed.

And involve your chosen production agency. Give them sight of the messaging and script as early as possible. Get, and assess, their creative input.

Ensure the agency knows precisely how and when you need the project to be delivered. And establish clear review and sign-off procedures.

And, ideally, arrange for the Producer to meet the Chief Exec. If you’ve chosen the right agency, they’ll be skilled in discreetly building the right chemistry. You won’t be losing control.

The agency

A commission to work with the Chief Exec of a large organisation is a great opportunity for an agency to demonstrate their expertise on a high-end project, and to enhance the client relationship.

It can also be an opportunity to get things very wrong.

Choose your team carefully. Match the team, and the technology, to the client. And make sure everyone is fully briefed on thje project’s objectives and context.

Understand exactly when and how the project is to be delivered.

Take every opportunity to build and enhance your relationship with each key person on the client’s team.

Expect the unexpected. And don’t miss your deadlines!

And … The Chief Executive

Trust your people. But also trust your own judgment.

Evaluate your comms team’s pitch and plans carefully. Understand what they’re asking you to do and why.

If you give the go-ahead, own the messaging. Have sight of the script, give feedback and give yourself time to familiarise yourself with the final version.

Ask to see how you’ll look on screen. You need to look comfortable, natural as well as authoritative.

And view and approve the final version. Everyone involved (including you) will feel the hard work has been worth it if you approve of the end product.

Finally …

Everyone involved should take time to evaluate the project. Track the impact and effectiveness of the messaging across the audiences, and also how the production processes went.

Qualitative and quantitative data on the project will provide great input for next time.

All being well, there will be a next time.


Bruce Todd has filmed with Chief Executives in the private and public sectors for over 30 years. He’s filmed the famous, the notorious, the exuberant and the reticent. He was a producer at the BBC on Newsnight and The Money Programme, and then joined Crown in its early years. He is the agency’s Senior Video Producer.   

This article was originally published in AV Magazine.