A business is only as good as the people who lead it. The drive, behavior and ethics of lower-level workers often reflect that of the executives in charge. As a business owner, you want all your employees to support a positive corporate reputation, but at the end of the day, your CEO should shine the brightest.
The above statements aren’t unsubstantiated, nor are they a part of anything new. Studies have repeatedly shown that almost half of a company’s reputation can be attributed to their CEO. While product value and customer service dominate the other half, the manner with which a CEO presents oneself to the public can make or break how your business appeals to target markets.
While a crew of office workers doing community service is a noble and valid way to show your company’s culture of outreach, your average business cannot afford to do this on a regular basis. But most business can afford to make their CEO a one-person wrecking crew when it comes to public appearances, including exercises in philanthropy.
Not only does your CEO need to win over the public, but the media also requires some courting. According to a study by the University of South Carolina, “CEO’s receiving positive media attention led to higher corporate reputations for that CEO’s firm. Additionally, if a CEO received an award, it also positively affected the corporate reputation of that firm. In contrast, if a CEO received negative media attention, it was associated with a weaker corporate reputation for that CEO’s firm.”
In this technological age, your public appearance is synonymous with your online presence, meaning your CEO needs to step up to the digital landscape. According to the Holmes Report, “The growing importance of the CEO’s contribution to corporate reputation is driven by the high demand for content and by the numerous platforms on which leaders can engage with stakeholders in today’s digital era.” Here are some ways you can get started:
- Create a personal blog for your CEO, and consistently link your business page in the content
- Establish a social media presence for the CEO that constantly references the blog and business page
- Have your CEO host live seminars, podcasts and more
In the event of a crisis, even one that involves an average employee, a manager or executive often gets in front of the issue. Why? To name a few reasons, it could be because the lower level employee’s conflict resolution abilities are not as astute as the leader’s. But even more importantly is a sense of familiarity. Having a constant reference for not only clients but also the media, public officials and more means being able to resonate with those individuals, and an executive with a solid reputation is your company’s best defense when public relations becomes an issue.
Executives must be tough when it comes to protecting their businesses. Not only does their job depend on it, but also the jobs of all those working under them. When a company’s reputation is under fire, it is the responsibility of its leadership to step up and defend the brand. Not only that; once the crisis hits, that responsibility automatically becomes an inevitability.
So why do good executives quit in crises? Because sometimes, they take their share of accountability with them, which can help provide damage control for the brand and the individual. Public relations can become an increasingly complex issue for executives in companies in crisis, and some find that sticking around too long can be detrimental to both parties. Meanwhile, a leader who braves the PR storm and comes out unscathed will be tasked with boosting the company’s reputation. A study done by the Academy of Management found that “highly-regarded CEOs enhance their firm's reputations, sometimes substantially, and CEOs who receive negative press coverage damage their firms' reputations.”
Digital marketing is a growing demand for businesses; if your executives have such an influence over your business reputation, isn’t it time your CEO had a digital strategy? At Massive Peak, we have helped hundreds of corporate executives boost their personal online reputations as a bigger part of their overall corporate strategy.