The CEO as Ultimate Communicator–new validation

June 15, 2007

I wrote about the emergence as the CEO or the top leader of the company as “The Ultimate Communicator” in the second edition of Now Is Too Late2. That idea has been thoroughly and carefully validated by Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross, Chief Reputation Strategist for Weber Shandwick. Here is an interesting interview with the good doctor from Daily Dog along with information about her research and her book CEO Capital: A Guide to Building CEO Reputation and Company Success.

For those who want a quick read, here are few gems:

How exactly does a CEO’s reputation shape a company’s reputation? How does that impact the bottom line?

The book addresses this in detail. But at a cursory level, research has shown the two are very much intertwined. Some of that research was done here at Weber Shandwick. For example, we have found that 63 percent of a company’s market capitalization is tied to the CEO’s reputation. It’s that important. There is a true premium that investors will pay for the right CEO. Another bottom line impact is that talent flocks to companies with the best leadership. Similarly, business partners gravitate toward companies with admired CEOs.

For PR, we’re seeing a tremendous tipping point in the business landscape. Companies and their leaders need to communicate effectively now. So CEOs and the entire executive team must be prepared for that. They need to be trained to speak to the media and other stakeholders. They need to understand the risks to reputation that they carry. It’s like the “Golden Decade of PR” now, because what PR people do is more important than ever. PR people need to help companies reach their publics directly through the CEO. Now is the era of two-way dialog and that includes, as mentioned earlier, things like blogs and podcasts. It also includes every employee on staff. They’re all citizen journalists. I think a lot of this is really hard for CEOs who largely used to be focused on operations. Conversely, it’s an incredible time for PR, whose job it is to communicate.

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