Reputation is the top priority

Sean Brierley underestimates the impact a chief executive or business leader has in shaping the reputation of a company (MW August 15).

No responsible communications adviser will put a business leader into the spotlight for the sake of it, but visibility is critically important in building and maintaining confidence among key stakeholders – customers, shareholders and employees. They have increasing expectations of business leaders, so an effective communications programme is essential.

According to the CEO Reputation Survey, undertaken by Burson-Marsteller in the US, Europe and Asia-Pacific, 50 per cent of any corporate reputation is linked directly to the chief executive, and credibility is the single biggest factor that determines success. In essence, chief executives have taken on a new role: that of “chief reputation officer”. Business leaders who take this role seriously run some of the world’s most respected companies – Lord Browne at BP, Terry Leahy at Tesco and Sir Martin Sorrell at WPP Group spring to mind.

In contrast, many chief executives fail to recognise the importance of their profile. Of all stakeholders in the commercial sector, it is chief executives themselves who place the lowest emphasis on the importance of visibility and the role they play in shaping their business’s reputation.

Gavin Grant

Deputy chairman


London WC1A

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