Gabrielle Dunbar

84% of B2B CEOs say they find talking to their CMO about PR ‘awkward’  

Getting CEO buy-in is so important in the world of B2B PR. Often, the CEO is not only the primary spokesperson but also the final decision-maker when it comes to signing off on PR budgets. It is a somewhat depressing fact, then, that B2B CEOs and CMOs are struggling to see eye-to-eye when it comes to their PR programs.   

A recent study commissioned by Champion found that more than four-in-five (84%) B2B CEOs find talking to the CMO at their organisation about PR ‘awkward’. This sentiment was shared by the CMOs, with 49% agreeing that discussing PR with their CEO was ‘really awkward’. So, what’s creating this tension? Well, the issue seems to be down to a lack of understanding about the value of PR.   

CEOs: What’s the point?   

Almost all the CEOs (96%) surveyed claimed that they see PR as a cost centre rather than a revenue generator. More than three-quarters (76%) of the CEOs canvassed agreed that they don’t understand the value of PR, while 45% of them claimed that although CMOs agree their organisation needs PR, they didn’t know why. Revealingly, 49% of the CEOs admitted that their main PR priority is raising their personal profile.   

The misalignment works both ways. Three in five (61%) of the CMOs claimed that reporting the ROI of PR campaigns to the board is one of their biggest challenges, while almost half (48%) of the CMOs agreed that they have ‘given up’ trying to educate their board about the value of PR.   

Measurement misalignment  

Recent research from Gartner found that CEOs’ top priority for 2023 remains growth - despite the current economic downturn. Meanwhile, the majority (82%) of the CEOs polled in Champion’s survey agreed that the metrics their CMO uses to demonstrate the value of PR are of no use to them. So clearly, the metrics that CMOs are presenting to their CEO need to relate to growth; at the moment, they don’t. That’s where the awkwardness lies.   

To overcome this issue, CMOs need to think beyond the antiquated means of measuring and evaluating a PR campaign, such as share of voice, number of clippings, and audience reach. Instead, CMOs need to think about their businesses' specific growth objectives and create a dashboard of metrics that will directly correlate.   

Trying to win new names? Then speak to the sales team about how prospects and leads have received coverage. Trying to sell new services to existing clients? Then show how content has helped nurture this process. Taking this tailored growth-centric approach to PR measurement and evaluation will help CMOs to demonstrate ROI and avoid awkward conversations in the future.   


The study, ‘B2B PR for Growth, ’ canvassed the opinions of 100 senior marketing decision-makers and 50 CEOs from UK-based B2B companies and sought to understand the degree of understanding between the two stakeholder groups.   

Learn more and download the full study here

*The article was originally published by PR Moment (6/02/2023)