The Possible Rebound of CEO Visibility
One of the ways I try to tap into trends is to keep a mental note of requests from clients, colleagues and the media. At first, I may not notice that something is bubbling up but by the third time, I begin to scratch my head and wonder if something is up. Then I mull it over, ask a few people and try to decide if the trend is at all noteworthy and worth mentioning.
Lately I have been thinking about CEO visibility. Since I have been following CEOs for what seems like forever and witnessed the pre-Enron, post-Enron, pre-financial tsunami and now mid-financial tsunami, I think that we are starting to see CEOs emerge from the shadows once again. As our recent research showed, few people have positive perceptions of CEOs in general (14%) but when it comes to their own CEOs, positive perceptions are sky high (86%). Thus CEOs seem to be getting the message that they need to speak up on behalf of their industries and their own companies. Over the past two months, we have increasingly been asked more about how CEOs can get their messages out in this kaleidoscope of news. CEO conferences never went away but many were scaled down as the economy took its toll and public scrutiny intensified over how CEOs were spending their time, where they were going and how they traveled from one place to another. What we are now seeing is that CEOs are more willing to speak at conferences that drive their messages and sales home. Whereas it is often hard to control the message in the media, it is easier to manage the message at a conference. With the advent of social media, Twitter and all things digital, CEO conference keynotes, panel discussions and Q&A are easier than ever to circulate to wide audiences instanteously. My sense is that executive conferences are poised for a major comeback.