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How the image of a CEO affects a company’s reputation

7th January 2014

The reputations of the business leaders of large organisations can make or break brands, claims a recent survey of some of Europe’s top communication leaders supported by PR firm Ketchum. Nine out of ten chief communication officers (CCOs) in Europe say their CEO’s capacity to deal with the media and other critical audiences has become interwoven with the overall success and reputation of their businesses.

Joachim Klewes, senior partner at Ketchum Pleon (Germany) explains: “The top executive of a company articulates and symbolises what their organisations are and what they stand for. Essentially they reduce company complexity and enliven the brand. We are living in an age of responsibility and accountability where the public is looking to identify with real people. Business leaders, who can easily by categorised as heroes or villains, are at the forefront of this change.”

Key findings of the survey are:

Discussing what PROs can do to help their CEOs improve their own reputations and that of the business, Joachim Klewes says that it’s all about balancing central authority (not necessarily control) and local independence.

Klewes offers these further tips to help make sure the organisation is best able to control its reputation:


These findings are drawn from the European Chief Communication Officers Survey which analysed the views of 579 heads of communication in corporations based across 39 European countries. The research was conducted by a research team of leading academics from five European universities, co-ordinated by the European Public Relations Education and Research Association (EUPRERA) and supported by Ketchum.

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