How Does a CEO’s Personal Brand Impact Corporate Reputation?




corporate reputation

Today, corporate reputation is directly impacted by and intertwined with a CEO’s personal brand. Particularly for CEOs of the world’s largest companies who’ve become brands in their own right and live life under the media spotlight. Brand and corporate reputation are now a key drivers of business performance – meaning that the desire for positive stakeholder sentiment has surpassed the importance of profit margins.

For PR and Communications teams, analyzing audience sentiment towards your CEO can be vital for crisis detection and understanding brand perception. Let’s dive into the key ways CEO reputation directly impacts corporate brands, and what measurements you should have in your locker to take full advantage of and protect your CEO’s personal brand.

How can a CEO affect corporate reputation? 

A CEO’s personal brand encompasses their values, vision, personality, and reputation and it can affect the image of their company from a PR perspective in a number of ways: 

  1. Building trust and credibility

    A CEO who’s perceived as competent and ethical can enhance the credibility of their company. In the same way, a CEO with a questionable personal brand can erode trust and become a reputational liability. As communications and PR teams, we often act as brand guardians and must fortify the perception of key figures within our organization to maintain credibility.  

  2. Engaging audiences and stakeholders

    A CEO who’s relatable, authentic, and engaging can create a strong connection with the media, consumers, and other stakeholders. This will enhance the reputation of the company. A CEO who is perceived as distant, unapproachable, or out of touch may struggle to connect with audiences, which isn’t going to benefit your brand reputation efforts. Having a vocal and visible CEO can be a great lever in enhancing external comms – whether that be by including their quotes in press releases or coaching them to deliver messaging to the media themselves. 

  3. Responding to crises

    In times of crisis, a CEO’s personal brand can either help or hurt the company’s reputation. A strong personal brand will provide reassurance and leadership during a crisis, while a negative personal brand may exacerbate the situation and damage the reputation of the business further. 

See how CEOs from the US and Europe’s biggest listed companies are performing in the media and the impact they’re making in our new CEO Index dashboard.  

We’ve all seen how a CEO with a big brand can become the face of an organization. Even a business as big as Twitter was eclipsed by the arrival of Elon Musk in 2022 when he purchased the company for an eyewatering $46.5bn. ‘The bird is freed’ he tweeted, signalling a major shift towards what many assumed would be Musk’s personal beliefs and agenda.  

Given the importance of a CEO’s personal brand and beliefs in shaping consumer assumptions about a business, it’s essential to cultivate a positive image (and course correct when it goes astray).  

How to monitor sentiment around my CEO and their personal brand? 

There are several strategies that PR teams can use to get a better understanding of their CEO’s overall reputation. Here are some steps to consider: 

  • Identify key metrics to monitor on social media

    Before assessing a CEO’s brand reputation, determine which social metrics matter most to you. This might include: 

  1. number of followers,  
  2. engagement rates,  
  3. sentiment analysis, 
  4. share of voice compared to competitors.  

PR teams can establish a baseline for these metrics and monitor changes over time. 

  • Use social listening tools

     Social listening tools can help PR teams monitor social media channels for mentions of the CEO’s name or the company. These tools can also help identify the sentiment of these mentions – whether positive, negative, or neutral. Digimind Social Listening can help track these all-important mentions. 

  • Analyze engagement rates

     Measuring engagement rates across social media (and mainstream media) can provide insights into how the CEO’s content is resonating with audiences. This includes likes, comments, shares, and retweets. Analyzing which posts generate the most engagement can help identify what type of content is most effective. This information will help inform any future content PR strategy and whether you want to use your CEO’s brand to get your comms out. 

  • Set up alerts for mainstream media coverage

     Today’s media monitoring tools offer email alerts and push notifications for breaking news or articles about specific topics. Set up alerts for mentions of your CEO so you can monitor the coverage and analyze the sentiment of the article or broadcast. 

  • Monitor industry trends

     It’s important to keep an eye on what others in the industry are doing and saying about the CEO or company. PR teams can monitor relevant hashtags to gain insights into industry trends. Gain some best practices for understanding media and industry trends. 

  • Conduct surveys and focus groups

    Internal comms people or corporate & public affairs teams may want to conduct surveys and focus groups internally (or externally) to gather qualitative feedback on a CEO’s brand reputation. You can ask participants about their perceptions of the CEO, their social media presence, and any other relevant factors. You can also combine with third party data sources to understand how influential stakeholder groups are impacting media narratives and brand perceptions. 

Having these processes in place is great ammunition for proving your value as a PR professional. The insights you gain will directly affect your CEO’s impact on the company and give them a personal affiliation with your team. Helping them maintain favourability and prominence is a mutually beneficial task for their career aspirations and the reputation of the brand you’re safeguarding.  

The evolution of social and mainstream media means managing your CEO reputation and corporate reputation are one in the same. Measuring a CEO’s personal brand requires a multifaceted approach that combines quantitative and qualitative data. By using a combination of social listening and media monitoring tools, PR teams can gain a more complete picture of their CEO’s online reputation and adapt their PR strategy. 

Did your CEO make it onto the CEO index? Check out the new Onclusive’s CEO Index.