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Protecting your CEO’s reputation

By Lisa Goldsberry

20215027_sWhy you should let PR manage this crucial task

Your CEO guides the company’s strategic vision, leads the team and decides where the money will go. Whether the company thrives or goes down in flames is often her responsibility. She also serves as the public face of your organization. With so much riding on her shoulders, it’s critical to protect the reputation of your CEO.

Of course, this is sometimes easier said than done. The explosion of social media, 24-hour news cycles and the constant call for content can lead to missteps and mistakes. With help from PR, you can steer clear of major stumbles to safeguard your CEO and your brand.

The public role of the CEO

There once was a time when CEOs were practically invisible, hidden behind many levels of departments and thick corner office walls. Not anymore.

Today’s consumers expect transparency in businesses, such as where products are sourced, how employees are treated and what the CEO is planning for the future. Also, they don’t really want this information from some low-level employee; they demand that it come straight from the top.

This culture of entitlement has ushered in a new paradigm for the CEO as not only the top executive, but also chief storyteller, director of problem solving and head of consumer engagement. As a result, the CEO is now in a unique position to effect change, influence opinions and directly impact profitability.

Therefore, when the CEO has a less-than-stellar reputation, the entire company suffers. For example, remarks made by Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries about only wanting cool, good-looking people to wear their clothes led to significant consumer backlash and a drop in investor confidence.

On the other hand, CEOs with good reputations can catapult the company’s image. For proof, look no further than Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, who is seen as personable, honest and passionate about his company. He has personally responded to complaints on social media and adopted a culture of transparency and kindness, leading to worldwide respect for the organization.

Additionally, when the CEO is viewed as innovative, intelligent and as a thought leader in the field, it attracts attention and visibility for the company. As an added benefit, media are more likely to request interviews and attend company events because they want to hear what he has to say.

How to protect the reputation of the CEO

A dissatisfied customer or disgruntled employee starts an entire blog just to air his grievances and trash your company. Your CEO makes what she perceives to be an innocent comment or joke on social media and quickly finds her name dragged through the mud as an example of today’s callous and uncaring CEOs. The list of ways that a CEO’s reputation can be ruined is lengthy, but there are methods to protect it.

Deal with negativity head on. Don’t ignore consumer complaints or concerns – address them. Fix whatever is wrong and move on. This is the quickest way to get out of a crisis.

Be proactive. Know what is being said about your company and CEO, both online and through word of mouth. After all, you cannot manage a problem if you don’t know it exists. Also, be sure to claim the name of your CEO online to prevent others from impersonating her and posting false information.

Make it a company-wide effort. Protecting the CEO is vital for the success of the entire organization, so everyone should be involved. More than 80 percent of consumers say that online reviews and reputations affect their purchasing decisions. Consequently, the function of protecting the CEO’s reputation should be built into the budget; made a significant component of content management plans; and be a topic of discussion during internal strategy sessions.

Hire a PR agency to help you. Steps taken today to manage your CEO’s reputation can affect your company for years to come. Make sure you are taking the right ones.

At Axia Public Relations, we will help you develop a reputation management strategy to increase your visibility and boost your profits. Contact us today or download our e-book Online Reputation Management for more tools and tips.

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Lisa-G-Color-SMLisa Goldsberry is a writer for Axia Public Relations with more than 15 years of public relations experience. She specializes in business, higher education and technology PR. Connect with Axia Public Relations on Twitter at @axiapr. 






Featured image credit: 123rf.com


Topics: public relations, reputation management, online public relations, online reputation management

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