No small change–CEO & Exec Communications

May 02, 2012

No small change–CEO & Exec Communications

Another exciting day (despite the clouds and threatening rain here in NY). Weber Shandwick’s research was covered in today’s WSJ. B8. In the print edition. Can’t send you a link (although here is one if you can get in) to the online version since you have to subscribe! But you can get all the relevant info here from the press release and the executive summary.
Back at the beginning of the year, we released a terrific study (I really feel an affinity for this one) about the growing indivisibility of reputation and product brand. We had so much great data that we figured we would release at intervals. So here we are with the second installment of the global research, The Company behind the Brand: In Reputation We Trust – CEO Spotlight which explores the importance of executive leadership and communications to helping reverse the tides of waning trust in companies and solidify reputation. Here are some big learnings from the survey with KRC Research among 1,950 consumers and executives in two developed (U.S. and U.K.) and two developing markets (China and Brazil) :

  • A full two-thirds (66 percent) of consumers say that their perceptions of CEOs affect their opinions of company reputations. Executives, like consumers, don’t overlook the importance of a leader’s reputation – they attribute nearly one-half (49 percent) of a company’s overall reputation to the CEO’s reputation. Say goodbye to the days when purchases were made solely on product attributes. Today’s consumer is savvy, well-informed and privy to a wide array of purchase options. Decisions are now increasingly based on additional factors (yes siree) such as the company behind the brand, what the company stands for and now….even the standing of its senior leaders. 
  • Nearly three in 10 consumers (28 percent) report that they regularly or frequently talk about company leaders with others. When consumers are asked what influences their perception of companies, approximately six in 10 (59 percent) say they are influenced by what top leaders communicate. Things have radically changed when you can say that consumers — the public square — are reacting to what leaders say. Corporate leadership communications are important across the globe, but to an even greater extent in emerging markets. Nearly two-thirds of Chinese consumers (64 percent) and nearly three-quarters of Brazilian consumers (72 percent) rely on executive communications when learning more about a company. For those companies growing in emerging markets, this is important.
  • Respect for corporate leaders – CEOs and other corporate leaders – has taken an especially large hit in developed markets – 72 percent of U.S. and 71 percent of U.K. consumers have lost respect in the past few years. Not such a surprise to me because the past few years have been hard on everyone. A bit different in developing markets however: Chinese consumers are evenly split on their changing opinions of corporate leadership (35 percent lost respect vs. 38 percent who increased respect). Brazilian consumers are more likely to have increased their respect for top executives than decreased their respect (33 percent vs. 21 percent, respectively).

Here’s the last word that holds a lot of punch in my book….a large 60 percent of a company’s market value is attributed to its reputation. Sixty percent. That’s no small change. Get those execs on the communications trail sooner than later.



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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of corporate and CEO reputations.

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