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Editor’s note: our Reputation Management for CEOs series focuses on reputation issues that specifically concern CEOs and other top executives. You’ll learn why your CEO reputation is so important, how to develop, maintain, and protect it, and see the value in a great reputation as a top executive.

Public engagement is an essential expectation for CEOs today. CEOs now need to focus on visibility to increase their credibility and support a positive reputation for themselves as well as their companies. Simply put, a CEO the public can see is a CEO the public is more likely to trust, and it’s important that companies and executives act on this knowledge.

Research strongly indicates that high CEO visibility among external stakeholders is essential to a strong corporate repuation. However, it’s important to note that CEO reputation is believed to be capable of both improving and hurting company reputation, so it’s important that CEO engagement is handled effectively.

Consider these facts:

  • 41% of executives believe that a highly public or visible CEO improves company reputation. 10% believe it hurts company reputation, and 41% believe it can equally improve and hurt company reputation.
  • More than 80% of executives belive that in order for a company to be highly regarded, CEOs must have a visible public profile.
  • Executives with highly regarded CEOs agreed with the previous statement even more, with a reported 88% of this type of executive agreeing that highly regarded companies need a CEO with a visible public profile. This is far higher than the 69% of executives with poorly regarded CEOs that agree with the same statement.
  • Admired CEOs are four times more likely to be seen as good at engaging the public than those with a less admired status.
  • CEOs who are highly regarded are more likely to be seen as social media participants, winners of awards, and comfortable with the news media.
  • CEOs with positive reputations have a higher social media participation rate than the average CEO. They are about three times more likely to participate in social media than CEOs with poor or weak reputations.

Today’s Engaged CEOs

Fortuntately, many CEOs are cluing in to the fact that they need to get engaged. Executives report that CEOs are now more willing to talk to the news media compared to several years ago and more comfortable doing so, as well as more open and accessible.

CEOs are particularly engaging in social media today. A recent report indicates that 80% of chief executive officerts from the world’s leading companies are engaged online using social media. This is a significant increase over 2010, when only 36% of CEOs used social media for engagement.

Interestingly, female CEOs are perceived by executives to be more engaged than their male peers. In every category including accessibility, social media, and news media interactions, female CEOs are described as active and comfortable at higher rates.

How CEOs Should Engage

Are you engaging to improve your reputation as a CEO? Even if you’ve taken steps in the right direction, it’s likely you still have room for improvement. Consider pursuing these these hallmarks of effective CEO engagement:

  • Communicate externally: CEOs should be comfortable speaking with the public, whether that means engaging with the news media or reaching out directly to consumers on social media. This is an essential factor in becoming a highly engaged CEO.
  • Communicate internally: In addition to communicating externally, CEOs must effectively communicate with other executives and employees within the company. Acknowledge the contributions of others, and be open and accessible. You can also improve CEO reputation among employees with ethical actions, employee engagement, and effective communication.
  • Be comfortable talking to the news media: Give the news media access on a regular basis, for both good news and bad news. CEOs who are comfortable speaking with the news media are often seen in a far more favorable light.
  • Win awards, either individually or as a company: Be recognized as a leader in your industry by pursuing awards. Winning awards individually can help your profile as a CEO, but awards for the company under your direction are excellent as well.
  • Participate in social media: This is an excellent way to connect directly with the public and be seen as more engaging and accessible. Consider the best platform for your outreach and be sure to remain active.
  • Practice online visibility: Be visible not just on social media, but the company website and beyond. Share company news, participate on the corporate video channel, and answer questions personally online.
  • Engage in public speaking: Get recognition as an industry leader, sharing your expertise and prominence as part of industry or trade conferences.
  • Participate in the local community: Volunteering, either individually or as part of a corporate organization, is a great way to reach out to your local community and engage in a positive way for your company.
  • Share news and insights: Industry leaders should offer knowledge to the public, sharing exciting news and insights from their company as well as the industry at large.
  • Take responsibility for negative issues: Scandals, mistakes, and other negative issues happen. Don’t hide from them. Instead, communicate during a crisis by taking responsibility for negative issues and engaging even when things aren’t going so well.
  • Show humility: Being humble and showing a softer, more vulnerable side is an excellent way to build credibility and trust.