Standing out in the business press

Standing out in the business press

Stuart Rock

Stuart Rock

By Stuart Rock, Founder & Editorial Director, Real Business 

I have lost count of the number of companies that I have visited since I first started my career in business journalism, more than 25 years ago.

Some companies are destined to be forgettable.  They are grey (literally) organisations, with unmemorable products and services. Their buildings are the same. So is their vocabulary. Even the executives are interchangeable. I won't identify any particular sectors, that would be unfair – but we all know where to find them.

Others are destined to be memorable. They make extraordinary things, or are behind extraordinary achievements. Think of the Eden Project, the Bloodhound Project, Help for Heroes.  Others have earned their capacity to stand out, from many years of success. You want to meet and touch these companies because of their track record and demonstrable world-class status. Think Dyson, Rolls-Royce, John Lewis, Sunseeker.

Many companies, of course, can't fit into the latter two categories. So how not to be in the first, the forgettable? Here are my observations – drawn from experience and memory, rather than structured research.

Be real. Talk about the company – what it does, how it's doing – in accessible language. Don't hide the blemishes. A company that is prepared to acknowledge its threats and weaknesses provides a far more rounded and memorable understanding.

Be honest. A business that is not afraid to talk about its financial as well as its business model will always stand out. Do I understand how you make your money?

Be interesting. Explain the marketplace. It doesn't have to be the CEO who does this – although that really helps – but a company that will interpret "what's going on out there" rather than just pontificate about its own strengths and opportunities, always gets my attention. I want to know why companies do what they do, not just what they do. Even better are the ones who can tell you with clarity and context. Do I understand your difference?

Be successful. Absolute scale is not what is memorable; it's the quality and nature of the success.

Lastly, it's easy to place all this on the shoulders of the CEO. Sometimes that's dangerous. A really fascinating company can be obscured by a cliché-toting, overbearing CEO. But a CEO who is straightforward and enthusiastic, and who conveys deep knowledge of what makes the company tick, really does play a big part in making a business stand out.


You can follow Stuart on Twitter: @stuart_rock

About Real Business: Established in 1997, Real Business was the UK's first magazine for entrepreneurs and growing mid-sized and smaller businesses. Today, Stuart and his team run the UK's most active network of high-growth businesses, spotlighting the achievements and challenges of this vital segment of the economy.

Share this story:

Read more from the blog


A changing landscape: Building reputations amid shrinking media pools 

Amid shrinking media pools, PR professionals need to begin thinking broader and deeper than simply media relations. ...Read more

Claire Walker
Claire Walker

Step forward with year-round inclusive PR campaigns this Pride Month

How can organisations do better this Pride Month and beyond? We discuss the dos and don'ts for inclusive PR campaigns. ...Read more

Megan Hogg
Megan Hogg
Tech News

Summer is here, and so are our top tech news stories of the month

Whilst June flew by in a flash of picnics in the park, it didn’t fall short on delivering yet more weird and wonderful tech news stories. ...Read more

Georgia Dallas
Georgia Dallas

Add a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Is it time to shape your reputation?

We operate in London, Paris and Munich, and have a network of like-minded partners across the globe.

Get in touch

Sign up to Spark, our newsletter

Receive thought pieces from our leadership team, views on the news, tool of the month and light relief for comms folk

You can unsubscribe at any time, please read our privacy policy for more information