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Tech and Innovation

CEO’s Role in Building an Online Reputation

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Modern CEOs can grow their and their brands’ digital reputations. However, they need to take steps to master their online presence in a way that builds authority, trust, and engagement. These are four places to start.

Just a generation ago, most CEOs could remain hidden from the public’s eye. Today, that’s hard to do. With the emergence of social media, corporate leaders have been thrust into the spotlight like never before. Those who’ve embraced their new public role have realized it can be a boon to their brand’s online reputation.

Consider Ryan Gellert, the CEO of Patagonia and a vocal proponent of environmentally conscious leadership. Not only does he strategically position himself to remain active across all platforms, but he touts the vision and mission embraced by his company. Each time he speaks at a conference or gives an interview, Gellert helps grow Patagonia’s presence and North Star’s commitment to radical sustainability. He was asked to accept an award plaque as an environmental hero because of his and his organization’s status.

You may not have the heft of someone like Gellert, but you can still use your reach to grow your and your brand’s digital authority. That way, you can do more for the company you’re leading. At the same time, you can start to enhance your expertise in your industry. It’s a win-win solution that allows you to get more notice, and your business potentially brings in more leads.

How can you start to manage your reputation and that of your company? Put some key measures into place.

  1. Become a part of your corporation’s marketing and PR strategy.
    Sit down with your head of marketing and find out more about this year’s strategic plan. Chances are strong that you could be taking steps to enhance the plan. For instance, you might want to start publishing thought leadership articles on top-line media sites, your company’s blog, or your LinkedIn profile. Ideally, the article topics will correspond with your business’s content to maximize the impact of what’s being said.
    Remember: Around seven out of 10 CEOs are on social media. Even if you limit your social presence to one or two platforms, you can still be a force for your brand. You can link to the mention when your company publishes anything — or is discussed positively by a third party. While it might seem like such a simple action couldn’t do much, it can introduce your brand to different audiences. As such, it helps solidify what you and your company stand for.
  2. Stay available for interviews and speaking engagements.
    A vocal CEO will get more earned media press mentions than one who stays in the shadows. However, stepping out of your comfort zone and speaking to crowds might not be something you’re comfortable with. Studies suggest that up to three-quarters of the population dislikes public speaking. That includes CEOs and executives. Consequently, getting some coaching on navigating speaking engagements and interviews is a good idea so you can start making yourself known throughout the media.
    Remember: Journalists and event planners always need sound bites, interviewees, panelists, and speakers. If you’re willing to give interviews or be a keynote — and you’re seen as effective — you’ll naturally become more sought after. Your popularity will spill over into a stronger reputation for you as a leader willing to educate others. Plus, it will look good for your organization.
  3. Keep your chin up — and present — during the tough times.
    It’s very difficult to be a CEO when things go awry. Many CEOs discovered how difficult the process could be during COVID-19. During 2020, many businesses had to let go of employees. Some CEOs nailed the challenging moment well. At Airbnb, Brian Chesky stayed front and center when his company had to let go of a significant part of his workforce. He reportedly even tried to find new positions for laid-off workers. His empathetic response was widely praised garnered Airbnb’s reputation as a compassionate workplace.

    The longer you’re in a role as boss, the higher the likelihood you will face a crisis. Even if the crisis is smaller, such as an unhappy client, your intervention could make all the difference. Sometimes, just stepping into the mix and making your voice heard is all it takes to retain a customer or smooth out ruffled feathers. Even if you can’t solve everything, you’ll show you’re not afraid to face reality. People often respect that from both leaders and corporations.

  4. Be an active online participant.
    If you’re a younger CEO, you might be more likely to be active on the Internet than if you’ve been in the professional scene for decades. Regardless, you need to keep up your online activity. For instance, you might want to start reading and commenting on articles your peers and other experts publish online. You might even want to attend live online events to increase your learning. (As a bonus, you can talk about your experiences later on your social media channels.)

The Internet gives you so many ways to get visibility. You could start a podcast. You could teach online classes. You could become a mentor and host online sessions for up-and-coming employees or even young learners. Again, you’ll probably want to work with your marketing team members to design your online participation in a way that will add strength to your brand, too. When people associate you with your company, you’ll drive more trust. Just be yourself and lead with authority.

It’s not enough to make decisions for your company when you’re a contemporary CEO. You need to have a digital presence as well. The more strategic you are about your presence, the stronger and more credible your and your business’s reputation will be.


Written by Mike Szczesny.

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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Tech and Innovation - CEO’s Role in Building an Online Reputation
Mike Szczesny
Mike Szczesny is the owner and vice president of EDCO Awards & Specialties, a dedicated supplier of employee recognition products, branded merchandise, and glass awards. Szczesny takes pride in EDCO's ability to help companies go the extra mile in expressing gratitude and appreciation to their employees. He resides in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.


Mike Szczesny is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Connect with him through LinkedIn.