Whether you need to protect your reputation or recover from an incident, reputation management for CEOs and executives is essential. As a business leader, you’re constantly being scrutinized online and in the media. As a result, it’s challenging to control your own narrative. CEO reputation management can help you maintain your privacy and protect your company.
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CEO Reputation Matters More Than You Think
In the past, CEOs have been pretty laid back about their online reputation. In fact, we discovered that many CEOs don’t have much of a curated online presence at all. Only 50% of CEOs have a personal biography on their website, and only 1 in 5 CEOs have a social media account.
But here’s the problem with reputation and executive leadership:
CEO reputation impacts the company’s image. For example, media about a company’s CEO tends to set the tone for company publicity. That means if a company’s CEO typically receives bad press, the company will usually garner more negative news as well.
Many CEOs now realize how valuable a strong reputation is. In fact, 50% of executives expect CEO reputation to have a greater impact on their company in the next few years. Further, executives attribute 45% of their company’s reputation to the CEO’s reputation. Those are high stakes to place on a single individual’s shoulders.
The Risk of a Blank Slate
CEOs who neglect their reputation are essentially allowing others to dictate their own narrative. Anyone with a social media account or a website can make statements about you regardless of the facts. Instead of allowing others to control your story, you can build a positive online presence that protects your reputation from damaging content.
Strengthening your online presence won’t just repair past and present incidents, but guard against future problems as well. Reputational risks include:
- Negative reviews (fake or real)
- Damaging media coverage
- Criticism in websites or blog posts
- Negative comments on social media
- Unfair Glassdoor reviews
How Executive Reputation Management Builds Immunity
A positive online reputation builds credibility, goodwill and trust. Most of all, it helps to hold back negative articles. You’ll also be better prepared to manage a crisis if you’re actively engaged online.
Unfortunately, executives often wait until they’re faced with a problem before they develop a positive search landscape. Instead, work to develop positive content before facing a crisis. You can improve your online presence with a blog, active social media involvement, personal profiles, and more.
Ultimately, proactive online reputation management ensures that you’ll have a more accurate online persona. If you’re actively engaged in brand management, you can ensure that the content is not just positive, but also factual.
It’s important to note that it’s not easy to remove search results from Google. In fact, there are only certain situations in which this can be accomplished. But don’t lose hope. If negative content can’t be deleted, we can push it down to where most people won’t find it.
How to Build a Strong CEO Reputation
What does it take to lay a strong reputation foundation as a CEO? Historical research indicates these are the most important factors to building a CEO’s reputation:
- Clear company vision
- Inspirational and motivational
- Honesty and ethics
- Good internal communications
- Cares about well-being of employees and company culture
- Global business outlook
- Good external communications and public relations
- Customer focus
CEO Reputation Management Tactics that Work
Whether you’ve neglected your online reputation or you simply want to improve your search landscape, follow these steps to establish a stronger online profile.
Be Visible and Active
Consumers, investors, and the general public are no longer satisfied with executives who manage their companies with a great deal of privacy. Instead, they want transparency. They want to see active engagement with the press, employees, and the public. Research indicates that 81% of global executives agree that it’s important for CEOs to have a visible public profile.
Practice effective communication skills and become comfortable talking with the news media. Your external visibility should include public speaking, activity in the local community, visibility in company online channels, accessibility in the news media, sharing insights with the public, and holding leadership positions beyond the company.
Own Your Domain
Make sure you own the .com for your name, along with the .org, .net, .info, and every related domain you can think of. This will ensure that only you have the power to publish content on sites with your name on them.
Own Your Name
Don’t stop with your domain name when you’re registering online. Just like domains, social media and other brand outlets are essential to claim as soon as you possibly can. Even if you have no plans to use Reddit, it’s still smart to reserve your name there. If you don’t, someone else can. And while you can release statements or work with the website to claim your official account, it’s simply much easier to just claim a placeholder now, even if you never intend to use it. Consider using a service like KnowEm to identify opportunities to build your personal brand online.
As CEO, doing charitable or award-worthy work doesn’t only benefit your reputation, but your company’s as well. 34% of global executives indicated that it’s essential for CEOs to win awards for their company or themselves. Corporate social responsibility can also win over hearts and minds after an incident, so be sure to amplify your good deeds.
Monitor Your Results
Set up a Google Alert for your name and your company. You may not like everything you see, but it’s better to learn about bad news early and face it head on rather than letting things spin out of control. This is only one of many ways to monitor your results online.
Mitigate Negative Press
It’s often easier said than done, but don’t discount the value of simply staying out of trouble. Today, it’s easier than ever for negative press to overtake your search results. Arrests or other regrettable actions can be quickly picked up by the media and could potentially remain online for years after the event has passed.
What you say online can and will be repeated, captured in a screenshot, and shared online with or without your consent. Don’t put your trust in privacy walls, either, as it’s all too easy for leaks to make their way out. Think carefully about how your words or photos may be perceived and interpreted before you post.
Publish Positive Content
If you do nothing else, do this. You should constantly put out positive information about yourself as well as the business. Consider contributing to the company blog, and ensure that you’re named in any relevant press releases issued by the company. Establish an identity online with a biography on the company website as well as active, engaging profiles on social media. Another great way to earn positive content is to lend your expertise as a thought leader or industry expert. Speak with the press, get quoted on blogs, and put your expert status to good use to get your name shared online.
Engage With Employees
A CEO’s reputation starts with what employees think of you. In fact, employees can become your biggest cheerleaders. Avoid being inaccessible. Spend time connecting with employees and reach out personally to as many as you can. Communicate with your company and ensure that you’re building goodwill among the people who power the organization.
Keep it Legitimate and Professional
Your reputation as a CEO is a high stakes game, but you must resist any temptation to stack the deck by pulling any unlawful, rule-bending moves. Fake reviews, black hat SEO, and other questionable reputation management tactics are to be avoided. They’re not only wrong, but they can come back to harm you. If you hire a team, ensure they’re experienced and have a history of success.
Contact us to learn more about our white glove CEO reputation management strategies.