NEW YORK: Eight out of 10 CEOs say they are worried about threats to corporate reputation, according to the results of the PRWeek/Burson-Marsteller 2003 CEO survey.
During the past year, CEOs have continued to deal with media scrutiny and fallout from corporate scandals, as well as the formalized regulatory scrutiny brought on by Sarbanes-Oxley.
"The clear message today is that it is 'life in the fishbowl' for CEOs," says Burson CEO Chris Komisarjevsky. "A demanding regulatory environment, board members who are deeply engaged, and the public's call for unimpeachable leadership have put new pressures on CEOs."
Among the potential threats to reputation cited by CEOs are financial irregularity, customer-service problems, and negative press coverage.
Patrick Flood, CEO of Homebanc Mortgage Corp., says reputation is paramount. "If you were to ask me what is the worst thing that can happen, it's that customers would lose trust in the organization's integrity," he said. "Once you lose the trust factor, it is incredibly difficult to get it back."
The survey also revealed that 56% of CEOs say they have more appreciation for the corporate communications function than they did one year ago.
One hundred ninety-eight CEOs responded to the survey, which was conducted by Impulse Research. For the survey results and story, turn to page 15.