Christophe Ginisty (FR), Digital Strategist, Social media intelligence expert, founder of AGOREP, Creator of the ReputationTime conference cycle.
Reputation specialist Christophe Ginisty held a masterclass in Riga on ‘Why Reputation Matters for CEOs’. It was held as part of the ReputationTime conference framework, discussing the impact of technologies and winning strategies for business leaders, politicians and civil activists.
The disastrous removal of the United Airlines passenger and environmentally tragic BP oil spill are are only two instances out of countless other examples where inadequate communication on the part of a CEO has led to a corporation’s reputation being damaged, which in turn resulted in tremendous financial losses.
You work on your image – but you earn your reputation. With the modern potential of viral communication, reputations have become both more valuable and fragile than ever.
Crisis of Trust
All aspects that make up your corporate communications strategy are what you are want to say, however reputation is what the majority of people understand from what you have said. To get a better picture of your reputation, start by listening. Along with traditional polls and surveys, in the digital age social media provides an additional trove of data on what people think and believe about specific topics, companies, or people.
The reality for CEOs, governments and corporations is that data shows that rising distrust is reaching critical levels. People are twice as likely to trust an average person like themselves rather than a government official, and the statistics for CEOs and board of directors are not far behind. At the same time as CEOs are being judged as less credible, regular employees of companies are generally seen as the most credible sources of information on a range of topics from treatment of customers, to views on industry issues.
Despite these negative trends, there are two main things CEOs can do to preserve their image in crisis management situations: take accountability and show empathy. No matter which employee on what level of the corporate ladder is directly responsible for a crisis, the CEOs are at the top and therefore must take responsibility for nearly everything that goes on within their corporation.
Nowadays it is also apparent that a simple ‘i’m sorry’ doesn’t cut it anymore. People aren’t satisfied with an only an apology, they also want to see empathy in the response and communication from the CEO – it must be visible that they really care.
7 Golden Rules for Reputation Management
Reputation is a mix of rational and irrational components. The rational components are easier to control and include communications, coverage, legacy and behaviour. The irrational is more difficult to predict and control with a communications strategy and includes such components as emotions, trends, beliefs, competition and experiences. To help keep the reputation of your CEO, as well as that of your corporation on message, follow these 7 Golden Rules for surviving the modern jungle of social media users and journalists:
In control – be aware of the difference in what you say and what people believe; get involved and set the agenda and tone to take control of the narrative
Public – be transparent about your own personal purpose and values; be specific about what your goals are and explain your ideas behind them
Inspirational – always think about what impact you wish to make with your message; tell stories that move people
Clear – when organising your message, start with the conclusion; be brief, focused and sincere in your delivery; consistency over the long term matters
Accessible – be a real person and transparent; if you choose not to communicate through a particular medium, you will still be talked about on that platform
Convinced – don’t be shy or afraid to become the message and keep people updated on progress; you are the face of the corporation and must set the agenda
Accountable – apologise, show you care, and fix the problem; always condemn unacceptable behaviour on any level of your corporation and turn a crisis into an opportunity to highlight your values
The digital world waits for no one, so be fast in your communication! A good barometer for judging a CEO’s communication is to go through these rules and rate them on a scale from 1-10. If one of these areas falls under 7 on this scale, you have found an area that needs work.
Protect Your Most Valuable Asset
Not being liked by everyone is not a reputation problem. Determine your “tribe”, and have your tribe believe in you!
When it comes to defining your image as well as what people want to know about you, the three building blocks that make up your reputation are “What do you do?”, “Why do you do it?” and “How do you do it?”.
There are, however, four building blocks that make up how other people view your reputation: “What they know”, “What they get from you”, “What they assume”, “What they care about”, and only the first two of these building blocks can be controlled by your communications strategy. In the digital age where one viral post, image or video can be enough to shatter a reputation, it is vital to be proactive and invest in building your most valuable asset, because once you lose your good reputation, you may never get it back!
The ‘Why Reputation Matters for CEOs’ masterclass was organised as a follow-up event to the ReputationTime conference. The conference brought together 250 business leaders, communications and marketing professionals, influencers, media professionals and students from the Baltic region and Europe. It is a meeting place to get inspiration from leading international speakers, prepare for the future and learn tips & tricks in the masterclasses and, of course, high quality networking & meeting great people.
Created for the first time in Paris by reputation professional Mr. Christophe Ginisty in 2013, ReputationTime conferences are held in Paris, Riga and Brussels.