Study: CEOs can restore reputations with internal comms

NEW YORK: A majority of executives believe that CEOs trying to restore their - or their companies' - reputations do not help themselves by using social media or making themselves more available to the press, according to a study by Weber Shandwick and KRC Research.

NEW YORK: A majority of executives believe that CEOs trying to restore their – or their companies' – reputations do not help themselves by using social media or making themselves more available to the press, according to a study by Weber Shandwick and KRC Research.

Most respondents said executives can redeem themselves by publicly taking responsibility during a crisis (90%), tying CEO performance to compensation (83%), holding meetings with workers (68%), publicly speaking up for themselves and their companies (54%), being more transparent (52%), and issuing regular updates (52%), according to the survey.

The survey contacted 151 US executives at Fortune 1,000 companies from late April through late May.

Only 12% of respondents said that using social media, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, to communicate with stakeholders will rebuild trust. And less than four in 10 (36%) said that CEOs help themselves by increasing press availability.

“We asked what CEOs can do to regain trust, and it showed a lot more internal communications,” said Leslie Gaines-Ross, chief reputation strategist at WS. She added that while the number of CEOs recommending social media use is low, it's higher than in years past.

The importance of internal communications was also reflected in the large disparity between respondents' perceptions of their own CEOs and those of other companies, said Gaines-Ross. Six in 10 respondents had a “very positive” impression of their company's chief executive, while 58% had a somewhat negative impression of CEOs in general. Two thirds believe the reputation of CEOs is largely negative, although nearly half say they are interested in becoming CEOs.

A separate survey of financial reporters released in March by BackBay Communications and Marketwire revealed that financial firms often bring negative coverage upon themselves by not communicating newsworthy developments promptly and honestly, not responding to calls or e-mails for comment, and giving evasive reports.

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