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A change in CEO is big news for your client company and something that stakeholders will definitely want to know about. And the best way to do so is by crafting a dedicated press release highlighting the change and mentioning all relevant details. Of course, not all changes in leadership happen under ideal circumstances, and there’s always the matter of how to handle controversial situations without either glossing over the facts or sensationalising them. As long-time PR veterans, here are our top tips on how to announce a CEO change to the media.

Let’s start with the basics.

1. Keep the headline straightforward…

In most cases, it is sufficient to use a format like “X Brand Appoints ABC As New CEO”.

2. …unless there are special circumstances

If the new CEO comes in from a major conglomerate, or is an academic celebrity, or if there are any other unique details about the appointed individual, it might make sense to include that in the headline copy. For instance, you could choose to mention that the new CEO of a tech company is a former inventor themselves.

3. Briefly introduce the new CEO

Dedicate a few lines to the new CEO’s prior experience, any accomplishments/awards won, and the vision they have for the company.

4. Talk about the why of the change

The public will want to know, so whether your previous CEO is retiring or whether you’ve chosen to invest in strategic realignment, be clear about why the new appointment is happening.

5. Include quotes from the new CEO as well as relevant company personnel

If possible, include a quote from the outgoing CEO with their thoughts on the replacement. It’s also advisable to have other C-suite members weigh in.

6. Have the press release ready before the new CEO joins office

We recommend working on the release as soon as the appointment is confirmed so that there is enough time to gather relevant information and pitch the piece to journalists. That way, you can schedule the press release for the same day that the CEO assumes office.

Now let’s take a closer look at the dos and don’ts of crafting a change announcement.

1. Avoid alluding to any controversy in the headline

It’s best to lead a press release with just the facts. Stick to mentioning who was appointed, and by whom.

2. If the new appointment is an interim one, say so

Include the time period of the appointment if the company has shared that information.

3. Avoid quotes with generic platitudes

Quotes like: “We are thrilled to have ABC join the company…” add no value. As far as possible, all quotes should be about topics like the strategic reasons behind the change or about the future plans for the company.

4. Ensure the press release happens on a fixed date, to all media channels at once

If there is confidential information around the new appointment, it might be worth having the team sign NDAs around discussing it before the formal announcement. This way, you avoid any information leaks.

5. If there are controversial circumstances, allude to them briefly

Press releases shouldn’t gloss over controversies, especially if they have been publicised. However, as far as possible, keep mention of them to one or two sentences. Use neutral language to describe what happened and avoid emotional or biased descriptors.

6. Make sure your employees know in advance

The press release is for the media and the general public — but your employees are important stakeholders too. Invest time beforehand to explain to your team why the transition is happening and to answer any questions they might have. They’re the ones who will be directly affected by the change, so make sure they have all the information they need.

7. Prepare for questions in advance

While crafting the press release, prepare a list of potential questions the media and external stakeholders might have about the change. If you’re hosting a press conference, agree on suitable answers with the new CEO as well as strategies for how you will respond to follow up questions.

Overall, the rules of writing a strong CEO change announcement are the same as for any press release — stick to the facts, keep it neutral and include relevant quotes from the people involved. Regardless of why your company is appointing a new CEO, sharing a press release about it lets you take charge of the narrative and set the tone for any questions your stakeholders may have. As always, Star Squared PR would be happy to help you craft impactful press releases for CEO change announcements and any other company updates. Get in touch today to know more.