Modern CEOs are inseparable from the businesses they lead. Execs like Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk are proxies for their companies. If companies are now closely associated with their frontmen, what can you do to set yourself apart?
As a growing business, you must start on the right foot. You need to not only communicate the right message but also take the right actions. In this article, I will show you what to do – and how to get your story out there. This will ensure your business’ reputation stays strong.
Highlight job creation
One thing the public overlooks when they think of CEOs is the jobs they create. Many see company leaders as people who detract from the economy, rather than contribute to it. The phrase ‘wealth creator’ is a tired political trope, but that is what you need to sell yourself as if you want to succeed.
You as a business leader have the power to give people jobs. The public especially loves business people who are self-made. You need to show off your hard work and determination and you will feel the benefits. For example, refugee Sukhpal Singh Ahluwalia has created 3,500 jobs in Britain after arriving from Uganda and is quick to remind others of the economic benefit of immigration. This sort of story is powerful, and consumers love it.
You also need to engage in thought leadership. Have your CEO do media tours, feature them in press releases and get their story out there. In a time when we are more connected than ever, don’t let a disconnect form between your executives and the general public.
At a time when unemployment figures are important, it is imperative to communicate this message. Focus your communications strategy on the jobs you create and avoid any potential fallout for if you are forced to make redundancies. Likewise, if the public feel like they know you, they are more likely to trust your company.
Show how your company benefits the economy
Tax payment is something that goes hand in hand with job creation. Many CEOs and companies are often criticised for things like tax avoidance or the low rates their corporations pay. Look at companies like Apple. It is plain to see that what might benefit you financially might not always be the best move for your reputation.
You as a business owner contribute a great deal to the economy, both in providing jobs and from the goods and services you produce. Consumers are outraged when companies avoid paying tax. The big players like Amazon, Google and Starbucks can weather this reputational storm. Your growing business won’t be so lucky.
This is why you need to send the right message. Proper tax procedure does not warrant any comms strategy. If you do everything right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything all – and that’s all you want.
Already mentioned are things many CEOs do but should communicate better. Many companies now go above and beyond what is expected. But this is changing fast. Corporate social responsibility is becoming expected of all companies.
Some businesses let their employees take paid volunteering leave, others donate heavily to charities. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is one of the most famous examples of how a CEO can use CSR to enhance their reputation, and thus that of their business.
Define your message. If you have one that is relevant to your company’s image, it will be much more effective. If you and your company are associated with good deeds, these programs will boost employee morale and bolster your brand.
But don’t just practice CSR – communicate it. It’s no good doing this if your message isn’t spread to consumers. Get media coverage for these initiatives. While the idea of ‘reputation’ is intangible, a well-directed message combined with positive reputation produces very tangible results.
Let employees know their value
As a business leader, nothing is more important than your employees. Kill two birds with one stone by making them feel valued. If they do then your reputation, and by extension, your company’s, will reap the rewards. This will result in higher productivity and more consumer trust.
Word of mouth is powerful. It will only help you if your employees love their work. You can ensure this happens in different ways. First, give them the recognition they deserve. Feedback is important, and who doesn’t like to hear they are doing a good job?
You can solicit their opinion on important matters. This makes them feel like you also value their opinion. Providing them with the right level of challenge is also necessary, as is giving them the right benefits. But above all else communication is key. If you communicate well and frequently, you will always know what they want – and vice versa.
It is clear then that for your reputation to improve as a CEO you need two things – good action and better communication. Your company will be rewarded if you become master of your public persona.