With the financial crisis, the devastation of the housing market, and investor scams, the reputations of many well-respected and well-compensated CEOs have fallen.
How can the public trust be restored for CEOs?
Public relations and communications departments around the globe will be in the forefront of restoring faith and leadership to the title of CEO.
CEO Bad Behaviors
Suzanne Bates author of two bestselling books on CEOs (Speak Like a CEO, 2005 and Motivate Like a CEO, 2009, both McGraw Hill) recently wrote that “From the $18.4 billion in bonuses paid out by Wall Street last year, to the news that former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain spent $1.22 million to redecorate his office; and word that Citigroup had planned (and later denied) to purchase $50 billion 12-seat luxury jet—after getting $45 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds.”
With such public displays of seemingly greed and just don’t care about the customer, the investor, the employees attitudes of CEOs, is there hope of renewing the sense of leadership typically associated with the title?
Undoubtedly public relations professionals will be the group to re-message or repackage today’s CEOs and build a new and improved reputation in the future.
Public Relations Crisis Management for CEOs
Public relations is usually front and center when a company or organization experiences a crisis such as contaminated products, massive oil spills in waterways, or when companies are found using children to make clothing or shoes. In other words most crisis arise out of a company’s bad behavior, which seldom gets directly associated with the CEOs behavior.
The new crisis management operandi seems to come directly from the office door marked boldly – CEO.
A big part of the crisis management plan for today’s and tomorrow’s CEO will have to include ways to communicate the good deeds and professionalism not just to the public but also to the heavy monitoring by local and federal governments.
According to Bates, “Tremendous government pressure will be exerted upon CEOs – for awhile at least- until the economy is back on track.”
As with all crisis’s, for the short term, companies should not allow their CEOs to operate without a public relations professional at their side at all times.
PR Communications Will Work
Public relations will be called on to help restore the reputation of the CEO by finding messages and examples of good deeds and responsible business practices by those CEOS that have remained true to their leadership roles and to their customers, investors and employees.
This is a time for public relations to shine and show their companies how they earn their return-on-investment. It will be a big job but in the long run everyone benefits including CEOs, public relations, consumers, investors and the public at large.
The job of restoring the good meaning of what it means to become the CEO will require stamina, patience, and renewed good behavior on the part of the CEO. It can and will be done with tremendous help from good public relations practices.