CEO Reputation, how to lead or fail online

Many top executives experience both love and hate of the promotional affect of the web, however CEO reputation in the digital space interacts with dozens of new elements including investor relations, customer service, stock prices, perception of liability, and more.

Depending on what report you look at, business analysts attribute somewhere between 23% and 52% of a companies reputation based on the reputation of the CEO. This percentage of ownership in the digital space is directly related to CEO names and executive staff members being in the spotlight when it comes to news coverage. Ask any journalist, the CEO of a company is usually the top choice for interviews and industry coverage.

An interesting point to note is that 63% of CEOs believe that reputation is critical to long term success, but less than %10 of the 500 companies we have examined over the past six months have taken any action to establish and defend the perception of positive reputation online.

With a margin of difference exceeding 50%, this details a catastrophic number of executives stumbling towards potential pitfalls in the digital world. This split is further compounded by the simple notion that more than 53% of American adults use search engines to find information about each other. If we examine a “typical” CEO that may have a network of 200 to 500 professionals, we can quickly conclude that 100 to 250 people within the network are being exposed to an executives digital reputation (or lack thereof.)

Dropping that down into the “top executive” channel, most organizations have three to ten public facing executives beneath the CEO. These often include Business Development, CFO, CMO, PR, and Senior Development talent. These top executives represent a varying level of reputational value, based upon the amount of exposure they have within both internal and external networks.

*As we look at reputation and how it trickles down through an organization, internal and external reputational assets play significant roles in new digital communication styles. A bad internal reputation within a company can quickly destabilize employee assets or valuable channel partnerships, while external reputational issues have an immediate impact on sales, customer service, and talent acquisition.

If we compare the basic numbers into a value process and an example financial scenario

  • $1000m total company value
  • $100m corporate reputation/brand asset (10% of companies value)
  • $25m CEO reputation / brand asset (25% of corporate reputation asset)
  • $5m Top Executive reputation / brand assets (20% of CEO’s reputation asset)

We can quickly see that any sizable business organization has a tremendous amount of value in just a handful of executives.

Moving into the world of public relations and journalism, we know that 90% to 100% of journalist use search engines to do their jobs. The beginning research tool of the digital editor has become the search engine.

This ‘first stage’ search engine research step is a critical first impression of the CEO and corporate entity. It provides a virtual seal of approval in the digital space, much like the Better Business Bureau historically did. The initial impression (like a 1st date), is almost entirely left in the hands of the search engines.

What does this really mean for the digital CEO?

In many ways, CEOs who understand the value of a good reputation have some very large benefits that were previously intangible and hard to quantify. As economies and markets shift, CEOs are under heavy scrutiny to perform ethically and morally. When questionable and difficult scenarios arise, CEOs who can prove a track record of intention and goodwill often find leniency with consumers, investors, and even regulatory bodies.

The problem with being a digital CEO is that few executives have the time to fully comprehend this social and technological trend. CEOs are now forced to make faster, qualified, and more quantified solutions than ever before. In our own experience, this means CEOs need to have a massive amount of information boiled down into the critical elements and then need to make actionable decisions without delay.

This is where we’ve defined different types of corporate reputation types and processes: looking to take advantage or both risk and opportunity rewards across an organizational footprint. This structure allows us to coordinate business assets across silos and work with margin driving objectives, passing critical and timely information to the right decision makers.

If you have questions about CEO or executive reputation within your organization, browse through some of our resources or contact us.