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CEO reputation increasingly important to business sustainability, PR expert says

Jun 23. 2015
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By Watchiranont Thongtep

The N

Amid increasing engagement through both internal and external communication, the reputation of executive teams should be managed as well as the corporate image to keep business growth sustainable, a public relations guru has suggested.

"CEO reputation is really important for a company’s reputation and market value as well as [making the company] attractive for new employees and retaining them," Leslie Gaines-Ross, global chief reputation strategist at New York-based Weber Shandwick, a leading PR agency, said during a visit to Bangkok last week.

Referring to her PR firm’s recent report "The CEO Reputation Premium: Gaining Advantage in the Engagement Era", Gaines-Ross said the study found that 49 per cent of a company’s reputation and 48 per cent of its market value could be attributed to the chief executive officer’s reputation.

In partnership with KRC Research, the online survey was conducted with more than 1,700 executives in 19 countries.

She said 57 per cent of respondents said that in the next few years, they expected that CEO reputation would become more important through companies’ internal, external and virtual engagement.

For internal benefits, the PR strategist suggested that if CEOs and their teams could manage their reputations properly, their companies would be more attractive to new workers as well as retaining existing employees. The research backed this up, with 82 per cent of participating executives saying the CEO’s and executive team’s reputation attracted new employees and 76 per cent said this reputation could retain existing ones.

She suggested that high-profile executives could help make their companies highly regarded by the public.

The CEO also needs to engage properly through different platforms, such as speaking well at press conferences; sharing new insights and trends with the public; being active in the local community; and being visible on the company website and accessible to new media.

Following this trend, a number of PR companies including Weber Shandwick Thailand are offering services to enhance CEO reputation management.

A Bangkok-based PR firm, Neo Target, recently launched a similar service called "reputation consulting".

"Our key driver is our newly trademarked ‘reputation management" tool," Vannee Leelavechbutr, founder and CEO of Neo Target, said in a previous interview. "We can work more closely and get deeper engagement with our clients with this tool. We will do in-depth analysis and research on the reputation of each corporate client."

This new service is expected to attract new customers and new assignments from existing clients. The firm’s growth is projected to outpace the local PR industry’s 10-15 per cent, she said.

Pannipa Porapakkham, chief brand strategist at Neo Target’s reputation-consulting arm, said: "We believe all brands need sustainable business in terms of financial performance as well as a strong reputation."

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