What role should your organization’s CEO play in your content marketing?
We talk a lot in content marketing circles about the importance of humanizing our organizations. Putting a face(s) and a voice(s) to the brand. Becoming more accessible to key audiences. Being in community and dialogue with customers and prospective customers.
You’ll see quite a few companies having their CMOs, key managers, scientists and technologists author blogs and white papers, or present webinars and seminars. But what about the CEO?
CEO Impact on Consumer Brand Perception
This question sprang to mind last week when global PR firm Weber Shandwick released the second installment of a study it calls The Company Behind the Brand. They surveyed nearly 2,000 consumers and business executives in the United States, the United Kingdom, China and Brazil. The executives interviewed lead enterprise-class companies ($500 million+ annual revenue).
The study’s first phase, released earlier this year, explored the growing interdependence of product brand and corporate reputation. This second phase, In Reputation We Trust — CEO Spotlight, looked at the impact of executive leadership and communications on consumer perceptions. Some high-level findings:
- 66 percent said their perception of the CEO affects their opinion of a company’s reputation.
- On average, 59 percent said their perception of a company is influenced by what the top leaders communicate (this number was 64 percent in China, and 72 percent in Brazil).
- Estimate that as much as 60 percent of a company’s market value hinges on corporate reputation.
- Said that 49 percent of corporate reputation derives from the CEO’s reputation.
To simplify, the research seems to suggest (affirm?) that consumers value hearing from executives, and what they think and feel about a company has a lot to do with what those leaders say and do. Meanwhile, execs concede the financial performance of their companies has much to do with reputation — both theirs and the company’s.
Here’s a quote from Weber Shandwick’s news release, seeking to put the research in an overall business context: “Gone are the days when purchases were made solely on product attributes. Today’s consumer is savvy, well informed and privy to a plethora of purchase options. Decisions are now increasingly based on additional factors such as the company behind the brand, what the company stands for and even the standing of its senior leaders,” said Leslie Gaines-Ross, chief reputation strategist.
Is There a Role to Play?
Sound like an argument for making your CEO a content strategy centerpiece? No one can answer that question for you. But it seems like a question worth asking. After all:
- CEOs — especially those who are also the company founder, or the inventor of the core technology or business model — are often among the clearest thinkers and most insightful speakers about the customer’s pain points and the pros and cons of competing solutions.
- Your CEO doesn’t have to look like a fashion model, or speak like a news anchor, to be comfortable and effective in a content marketing role. You can channel his or her vision, voice and insights via a content format that plays to their strengths. Video. Podcast. Webinar. White paper.
- It’s hard to argue content marketing isn’t important or strategic enough to merit the CEO’s time and attention. For many organizations — especially B2B companies — their content marketing strategy represents the best of what the company wants to stand for as a thought-leading, customer-centric brand.
Not to suggest that your CEO should suddenly become the dominant voice and face of your content. But where might it make sense to involve your CEO more — maybe for the first time?
- Fielding questions during a quarterly town hall video conference with dealers, franchisees or users.
- Authoring, with the help of your strategic content agency or staff, an annual state-of-the-industry research and issues report.
- Publishing a once-weekly blog post that becomes a cornerstone of your blog cadence.
To paraphrase a famous chief executive, U.S. President John F. Kennedy:
Is it time to ask what content can do for your CEO, and what your CEO can do for your content?
What do you think — horrible idea or worth considering? Maybe your CEO is already a major contributor to your content marketing. Any favorite examples of CEOs who are front and center doing content marketing effectively? Comments, critique and case examples welcome.
This post originally published on Content Is Marketing, Hanley Wood Marketing’s blog.