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Value Your CEO’s Public Reputation

Natasja Beyleveld, Managing Director NaMedia and Young Business Woman of The Year 2013

Many CEOs in Namibia will face the hot seat in 2015 whilst confronting struggling business lines, activist investors, and corporate splits. Others will again be expected to best represent stakeholder interest transparently; the David Nuyoma of the GIPF, Vekuui Rukoro from MeatCo, CEOs from banks (commercial and developmental) to name a few.

Where is your company CEO reputation headed in 2015? And be honest, urges Beyleveld (MD, NaMedia). It is easy to feel intimidated by your CEO and his or her philosophy that might not marry with your company mission. However, as PRO you should empower yourself to say things that matter and bring issues to light that campaign for necessary changes when required.
Are you constantly below the awareness threshold albeit with many positive stories that could boost your public image more authentically than a couple of expensive marketing campaigns? Are you always in the spotlight, faced with media critique and public scepticism? Or are you comfortable without too many expectations and taking it ‘in the stride’? There is no room for any CEO to fall short of the much needed public expectations – mostly met via ongoing and transparent public communications. Think about lessons learned and mistakes made during 2014; you will not prosper by seeking revenge against media critiques, by being ambiguous about sensitive employee data, by cancelling interviews for clarity, or making easy promises that you struggle to keep. Yes, it is not an easy job and the pay check, title, and high ranking contacts cannot be your only interests.
NaMedia monitors thirty four national mainstream print and radio media on a daily basis. From hundreds of thousands of statements analysed during 2014, a couple of facts were substantiated. Firstly, the more visible your CEO, the more visible your company brand – with higher percentages of positive media sentiment tied to your brand. Three of the top five companies of 2014, both in terms of visibility and volume of positive coverage, had their media profiles strengthened by also having their CEOs amongst the top three most visible CEOs in the media, being FNB, Standard Bank, and the Development Bank of Namibia. Companies with most negative media coverage had a lower (or below the awareness threshold) CEO media presence, such as Transnamib. Companies like Old Mutual, Meatco and Namibia Breweries drove a stronger CEO/MD brand, as directly linked to the company brand. In practice it is when Richard Branson becomes inseparable from Virgin Airlines or Wessie van der Westhuizen becomes inseparable from Namibia Breweries. It is when you earnestly believe in the CEO brand, and the Vekuui Rukoro or Sven Thieme becomes the representative of your interests or even business.
Significantly so, for 2014 the issue of Customer Relations topped the agenda for two of the top three most visible CEOs.
I guess the customer is always right, and has become better and better empowered and represented via multi social media platforms for smaller community supplier-client engagements says Beyleveld. Beyleveld concludes that commentary on Leadership, Executives, and Management Strategy also featured strongly to position these CEOs firmly within their roles as corporate leaders.

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