Apple is one of the most reputable and successful brand images in the world; and there’s a reason. As a CEO, you’re at the top tier. What you say and do will have an impact both internally and to the world. Your reputation is all about how others perceive you. If you want to shed a positive light on yourself and your business, you need a plan for managing your image. Julie Talenfeld, President of BoardroomPR, here provides CEO Today with a simple 101 on business image management.
Lead with integrity. “Do as I say, not as I do” should not be a part of your CEO culture. If you are caught cheating on your taxes or on your spouse, or simply caught in a lie, you’ve set the tone that you don’t care about your image, company or team. If you lead with honesty, clarity and integrity, that will trickle down to your employees and staff, and ultimately, the business your company produces.
Satisfaction, Guaranteed. Large, national and global companies have the time, money and resources to build their image, but that doesn’t mean smaller companies can’t and shouldn’t place the same importance on theirs. Whether you have a worldwide team of millions or work solo, be sure to project an image you and your team would be proud of, and one that your customers and clients would be proud to say they partner with. Remember, without a strong base of stakeholders, you have no business.
Respectfully Disagree. There is never a dull moment in the news, especially in today’s world. How you react to current events impacts your reputation and ultimately your business. Expressing your opinions is OK, as long as it is done so in a respectful way, and in the appropriate settings. As a CEO, what you say will automatically be linked to your company, so it’s important to reiterate that your opinions are your own and don’t reflect that of the entire business and team. You will encounter backlash from those with opposing views, so be prepared for a healthy debate. Sparking dialogue and developing open-mindedness is important these days. Remember, respectfully disagreeing does not involve verbal abuse and aggression.
Socially Spoiled. Whoever said nothing lasts forever said so before the days of social media. Be careful what you say or post on your social channels. As a CEO, you are in the limelight, and constantly scrutinized. It comes with the territory. But once you post something, it’s up for good, even if you think it’s gone. Cameras are everywhere, and a quick screenshot can make anything immortal. Social media posts can go viral in a matter of seconds with the click of a button, and this can make or break you.
Think before you speak. Before you make an investment, whether purchasing a car, house, or even a new computer or try out a new restaurant, you do some research. You look up reviews from others, investigate competing products and make an informed decision based on your findings. The same should apply every time you go to speak. Before you comment on a trend or current event, take a second to step back, do some research on its history and think before you respond. If you’re unsure, it might be best to stay quiet or you risk offending your stakeholders or clients.
Morally influenced. As much as money runs a business, sometimes it isn’t always about the cash flow. When morals weigh heavy you might have to make the decision to pass the business on to someone else. In 2014, CVS decided to stop selling cigarettes and changed its name to CVS Health. Why? To show that the company values the health of its customers. It surely had an impact on the company’s financials, but in the long run, it showed customers and their health are important to the company.
Accountability is a must. Clients choose a company because they trust and believe in what they offer. Think about security breaches when vital private information is taken by a third party. How companies respond will impact business relationships. Responding quickly with accurate information, notifying customers of the breach, taking responsibility and ensuring changes will be made in the future are all necessary for survival. Hopefully, this plan won’t be needed, but if it does, take responsibility for what you say and do before you find yourself without a company and the unemployment of your team on your hands.
As a CEO, stop, think and take a second to weigh the pros and cons before you act. Be positive and be professional. You can save yourself, your company, and your team from taking a hit.