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“Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing,” Abraham Lincoln asserted. It is important your shadow gives a positive image or reflection of you.
The corporate world today has become very competitive; thus, the success of any business entity today is dependent on what clients think and feel about the organisation. With a positive shadow (reputation), trust, customer loyalty and repeat business becomes the reward, thereby increasing the bottom-line.
Top management executives drive organisations. The success of the drivers in this highly competitive business environment requires great personality, values-driven communication and a great reputation.
Though underutilized, CEO/Founder Profiling strategies are the best Public Relations (PR) approaches used by communication experts to build strong corporate reputations.
Top Business Executive profiling builds an organisation’s prestige, credibility and entrenches loyalty. Studies show that clients connect strongly with a company based on the views, ideas and leadership philosophies of the top executive and PR strategies. The connection ensures the achievement of an effective and well-coordinated communication to the target audience.
Profiling from the highest level of the management chain ensures a deeper sense of brand intimacy. It is believed that when the organisation is in crisis, “the CEO stands out calm amidst the chaos; the visionary, the expert thought-leader, the intelligent spokesperson and the figure of inspiration.”
Well-coordinated PR profiling approaches increase a brand’s credibility, influence, leadership, visibility and commercial advantage. A recent study presented in Harvard Business Review explained that the most superior and long-lasting performing companies are those whose CEOs/Founders play significant roles in the eyes of the public.
Big businesses and their leaders have faced many threats as their brands decline through backlash, protests by staff, among others; which affect the reputation of the brand. Weber Shandwick’s research has however shown over time that CEO reputation is a vital driver of corporate reputation, and is solid in its contribution to market value. Furthermore, research shows that nearly one half of a company’s market value is attributable to its CEO, hence their reputation cannot be undermined in the affairs of the business. Michael Fertik, founder and CEO of reputation.com, rightly put it, “Reputation is the new oil.”
Competition, dynamic media landscape and complex stakeholders make it difficult for every company to be heard the way it wants. CEOs over the years have kept low profiles and only surface in times of crisis or scandal; but they now have the opportunity to spread their own company’s stories. The present complex media landscape provides an array of avenues to share their business knowledge.
CEOs now have many ways to build and sustain their personal and organisation’s reputation through content marketing and social media. Customers and key stakeholders want to hear from CEOs, engage with them and build loyalty. This provides an opportunity to engage in effective and well-coordinated CEO profiling.
“As CEOs regain their footing after the global recession, reputation is being shaped by new forces that require greater CEO engagement and presence. Although social media has placed nearly every CEO and company in the spotlight for good and bad, it has also given CEOs a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tell their company stories in unimaginable and untold ways,” Leslie Gaines-Ross, Chief Reputation Strategist, Weber Shandwick.
By Albert Amekudzi
The writer is the Corporate Communications and Events Manager at Origin8, a leading advertising, marketing and public relations company in Ghana.