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understanding c-suite executives

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Wouldn’t you like to get inside the minds of your CEO and other C-suite executives? Better understanding C-suite leaders can help public relations and marketing teams better meet their goals and win approval for their projects and funds for their budgets.

We don’t know how to get inside their minds, but we can tell you what publications they read and respect, which may be the next best alternative.

Leadtail analyzed 98,079 tweets from 1,713 CMOs, CFOs and CIOs to find which publications they share most. It found that executives favor well-known business and news publications like the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Harvard Business Review. However, they also read technology publications and websites like TechCrunch and Mashable.

Favorite Content of in the C-Suite

Justin Gray, CEO & chief marketing evangelist of LeadMD, examined the kind of content C-Suite executives prefer in an article for Convince & Convert. The executives prefer content that is:

Well researched. Broad content that is short on facts is inadequate for C-suite readers. They want fact-filled reports with examples and projections, preferably from well-known industry-leading sources. Executives also want to learn the costs associated with proposals.

Thought-providing. Although content should be actionable, top executives desire new concepts and fresh approaches, more than step-by-step instructions. They prefer content that stresses strategy more than tactics.

Succinct. High-level executives are extremely busy and have no patience for longwinded messages. Optimize your content for each channel or medium. Bullet points and summaries of articles or white papers can catch their attention.

“The fact is, C-suite executives love content as much as the rest of us—they just have a different set of needs and circumstances than most other targets,” Gray says.

Favorite Books of Leading CEOs Read

For more insight into top executives, Business Insider aggregated the favorite books of 21 CEOs.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos listed his favorites as the business book “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras and the novel “The Remains of the Day” by Kazuo Ishiguro

“If you read ‘The Remains of the Day,’ which is one of my favorite books, you can’t help but come away and think, I just spent 10 hours living an alternate life and I learned something about life and about regret,” Bezos said in a 2009 interview with Newsweek.

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh said his favorite book is “Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization” by Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright.

“Tribal Leadership codifies a lot of what we’ve been doing instinctually and provides a great framework for all companies to bring company culture to the next level,” he said.

Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent likes “The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World” by Niall Ferguson, a book that chronicles the evolution of the financial system. “I love books on economic observations,” he told Fox News. “This is one of the best.”

JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon sent interns a list of his 25 favorite books. The books included “The World is Flat” by Thomas Friedman, “Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America” by Gary Wills and “A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson.

Do You Know Your C-Suite’s Reading List?

Knowing what your own executives prefer to read can provide insights into how you can improve your communications with them and the format of communications materials you prepare for them. Hints of their reading preferences come from their social media accounts and their notes to employees or consultants. The employee communications staff might even consider developing an article on the reading preferences of the C-suite executives – so all will know and, ahem, be on the same page.

Bottom Line: Knowing what corporate leaders like to read and share can help PR and marketing professionals build their own readings lists as well as better understand the current thinking of their C-suite executives.