Presenting Cision's 2019 State of the Media Report Read More

The CEO halo survives a negative news environment

Positive quotes and mentions about your head honcho are more important than ever

While perhaps not adorning kids’ lunch boxes as NBA players once did, the high-profile CEO is an important development in the last decade, as a CEO’s leadership style and personality has become a part of the brand and reputation of his or her company. 

And subsequently, a whole new set of literature has been dedicated to studying how CEOs communicate with their multiple audiences, such as Ram Charan’s, What the CEO Wants You To Know and Leslie Gaines-Ross’, CEO Capital: A Guide to Building CEO Reputation and Company Success.

In the 2000s, the paparazzi started noting celebrity CEOs, such as GE’s Jack Welsh, Hewlett-Packard’s Carly Fiorina, and Microsoft’s Bill Gates. Then in 2005, we watched Wal-Mart’s former CEO, Lee Scott, personally launch a ground-breaking campaign to change Wal-Mart’s tight-lipped corporate culture into one of greater transparency.

While the rock-star CEO is slightly out of vogue this season, the visibility of the CEO as representative and symbol of his or her brand remains important, as key decision-makers carefully watch for any discrepancy that may occur between a corporate ideal and the CEO’s zeal.

In recent months when so many companies have been battling a downward trend in business, the authority of positive CEO quotes can soften negative news like a counter-weight on a balance scale.

When we look at the Cision Index, which is Cision’s compilation of the quality and quantity of news from large U.S.-based companies in major media, we can see a pattern in the data. Cision Index Stories that contained favorable CEO quotes and references had an Average Impact Score that was seven percentage-points higher than articles without favorable CEO mentions. The Average Impact Score measures the tone and prominence of news coverage, which is the same measurement tool that we use for all of our Cision media analysis projects.

So, favorable quotes and mentions of a CEO in a story are likely to indicate more favorable news coverage, even in a year filled with unflattering coverage. Of course, you know that! But now your CEO can see it graphically.

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