Even the most well-intended leaders make these classic mistakes when it comes to CEO reputation management.
- Failing to make their CEO reputation a part of your overall brand marketing strategy.
Earlier this year I received a panicked phone call from a CEO who informed me that he had been tasked with doing a better job of creating a CEO brand and managing his reputation—online and off.
He hadn’t done anything wrong to generate this dictate. On the contrary things were going so well, his team felt he needed to maximize his exposure, and that of the company, by building up his personal brand.
The only problem was he had not really bought in. Many leaders I run across have failed to identify the need for a “parallel brand.” This is the sweet spot where the personal/CEO brand meets the business brand—and together the sum of the parts becomes greater than the whole.
- Handing over your CEO reputation management to someone else.
At least once a week, I get a call from a very well-meaning, competent, and sincere personal assistant, marketing manager, or human resources director looking for a consultant who can function as a “brand manager” for the company’s CEO.
But as highly skilled as these professionals are, this can’t be turned over 100% to an assistant, a marketing executive, or even a qualified consultant. For a leader’s CEO/personal brand to be truly impactful, it must, in part, involve the executive’s personal attention. Why? Because no brand can be at its best without authenticity.
- Forgetting to practice CEO reputation management closer to home.
One of my favorite studies over the past few years comes from the Center for Talent Innovation, who reported on six core traits that determined the degree to which an individual leader was seen as having a strong, positive executive presence. They were:
• Emotional intelligence
Many of these same attributes, it turns out, are what are required for reputation management. In fact, much of the work I end up doing with leaders is helping them strengthen and translate these same attributes into actions that can be seen by their staff—internally.
It’s easy to see why communicating the CEO personal brand outside the organization (to media, influencers, etc.) is of high value. What is sometimes less obvious is the powerful impact on employee engagement that making the personal brand clear inside the company has, which is just as important.
- Missing the boat on content marketing as a part of your CEO brand marketing strategy.
I’ve rarely met a CEO who didn’t love the idea of being a “guest expert” on CNN, Fox Business News, MSNBC, or some other top-tier TV program. Likewise, a shout-out in a major magazine, newspaper, or website is considered a thumbs-up in the personal brand marketing strategy department.
But media placement is really just one aspect of overall reputation management and rarely enough to shape a powerful public narrative. In my experience too many executives overlook the need for content development and marketing as a part of building their overall personal brand marketing strategy. Depending on the individual CEOs talents, and preferences, tactics can include but are not limited to:
• A CEO blog
• Writing articles for established online and traditional publications
• Publishing white papers
• Doing a podcast or webcast
• Authoring e-Books
What all the above really means is that reputation management is every leader’s obligation in today’s click-and-find world. Today, having a strong CEO brand is not a luxury, but a necessity. The only question remaining for the modern CEO is not “Am I going to do this?” but “How well?”