CEO as brand

Nine out of ten chief communication officers throughout Europe report that their CEO’s capacity to deal with media and other critical audiences is directly related to the reputation of the organisation.

This is the headline from the European Chief Communication Officers Survey (ECCOS).

The survey of more than 550 European communication leaders was undertaken by a research team from five European universities under the auspices of the European Public Relations Education and Research Association (EUPRERA). Ketchum is a partner of EUPRERA.

The top executive of an organisation articulates what an organisation stands for, and is critical – externally and internally – to success, according to the research.

“The reputation of business leaders at large organisations is now important. CEOs can make or break corporate brands,” said Professor Ansgar Zerfass, Leipzig University, leader of the international research team.

Communication leaders believe that their CEO’s communication skills facing the media and large audiences is critical to the success of an organisation (92%).

But equally, communication skills in small group settings are an important factor (93%), the CEO’s personal reputation (91%), and the CEO’s knowledge of strategic communication are all imperative to the success of an organisation (82%).

83% of respondents indicated that their teams are actively working to position the CEO, and 67% have programmes and tools related to CEO profiling.

In addition, 67% are actively working on a communication strategy for the CEO, and 60% actively monitor the CEO’s reputation.

“The top executive […] articulates and symbolizes the organisation. They reduce complexity and enliven the brand. We are living in an age of responsibility and accountability where the public is looking to identify with real people,” added Professor Zerfass.

ECCOS is part of the annual European Communication Monitor.

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Stephen Waddington

Partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum and Visiting Professor in Practice, Newcastle University.

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