The best end-of-year CEO letters have one thing in common. They show some measure of authenticity rather than being obviously ghostwritten corporate speak. For a CEO holiday letter that helps establish trust and connection rather than undermining it, you want employees to see the human being behind the signature.
But it’s a rare CEO who can make the time to write his or her own letter to employees. Here are a few ideas for making a ghostwritten letter as authentic as possible.
1.Get 10 minutes on the CEO’s calendar. Obviously, more time is better, but in 10 minutes you can probably get answers for these four questions:
- What is the CEO particularly proud of, in terms of what the company has accomplished in the past year?
- What are the CEO’s hopes for the coming year?
- Is there any special message the CEO wants to give employees? (Like gratitude for their hard work over the past year, appreciation for their ability to roll with recent changes, thanks for their contributions to the unique culture.)
- What are the CEO’s favorite holiday traditions or what does this time of year mean to him or her? (You’re looking for something a little bit personal, to help employees know the CEO as a person.)
Record the conversation, using an external mic on your smartphone, if possible. That way you’ll be able to quote the CEO accurately, plus you won’t slow things down trying to jot down every word. (For tips on better ghostwriting for a CEO holiday letter, try this blog.)
2. Use a candid photo of the CEO with the letter. If you don’t have a photo library of executives and associates working and meeting and hanging out at work, you might think about trying to work a shoot into the budget for next year. But you could also use a photo from the CEO’s own social media platforms, if they’re open to that. Even better, maybe he or she is willing to share their family’s holiday card photo.
3. Turn the CEO holiday letter into a video instead. This is best done with a professional video crew, but it doesn’t have to be a big budget buster. (For tips on leadership videos, you might find ideas here.) It could be shot in less than an hour and then the camera person can maybe shoot some B roll of employees in the office. Even better, get some footage of employees in the manufacturing plant, the distribution center or the retail locations. That way the holiday letter makes celebrities of the employees, not just the CEO.
Interested in developing more authentic leadership communications next year? Tribe can help.