Should CEOs stop dealing with the media?

Long read: Leaders need the exposure journalists can offer. But the wrong sort of coverage can sink your career. Here's MT guide on how to play the publicity game.

by Alex Benady

As a serial entrepreneur, Lex Deak has to be an optimist. He expects the best from people he deals with and the businesses he creates with impressive regularity. There have been six in the past decade and this autumn sees the launch of his seventh. For 14 months, he and his team have been developing an app called Basket that aims to simplify the process of online shopping.

Deak understands that when you are starting a business, the chief executive is the embodiment of the brand and he considers it his job to talk to any journalist who could give him publicity. “It’s instinctive for me. I’m up for it, all exposure is good. Any chance to share with anyone is worth taking because it’s such a fundamental marketing channel.” He enjoys what he calls “the dance” of speaking to journalists: engaging them, finding a way to give them a story they want while getting his own message across.

But he also remembers with bewilderment the time a few years ago when he was being interviewed and let slip financial details of a new company that could have scuppered it before it even launched. “I immediately realised I shouldn’t have said it so I asked the writer not to use it. He did anyway.”

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