CEOs Concerned About Threats to Their Corporate Reputation

In a new national study of nearly 200 American chief executive officers, 81% expressed concern over threats to their corporate reputations, citing customer service problems, financial irregularity, negative press coverage and employee misconduct as among the issues that have the greatest potential to damage their corporate reputation.

"The clear message today is that CEOs live in a fishbowl," noted Christopher Komisarjevsky, president and chief executive officer, Burson-Marsteller worldwide. "A demanding regulatory environment, board members who are deeply engaged and the public's call for unimpeachable leadership have resulted in new pressures on CEOs. With these escalating demands on CEOs, this new wave of research demonstrates CEOs' greater respect for communications professionals and the priority they place on good internal and external communications."

While an overwhelming majority of the CEOs surveyed (87%) cited "improved employee morale and recruitment" as the area most positively impacted by a good rating on the corporate reputation scorecards, the majority (54%) admitted that their companies did not closely monitor these annual rankings compared to 46% that said they did.

“Over the last several years, we have seen an explosion in the number of corporate scorecards produced by the major media," noted Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross, Burson-Marsteller's chief knowledge and research officer. "What surprises us is the lack of attention companies typically pay to these surveys, especially in light of the potentially positive impact they can have on current and prospective employees."

Julia Hood, editor-in-chief of PRWeek, commented that "It is clear that public relations has grown in stature among America's CEOs as they begin to understand its role in shaping their companies' reputations.

The majority of CEOs reported that they turn to public relations counsel to manage company reputations. Corporate scandals notwithstanding, the public relations executive is not just the vehicle through which corporate messages are delivered. The savvy public relations executive is sought after by the CEO for his or her instinctual ability to project the implications of day-to-day business decisions on a company's stakeholders."

The Survey was conducted in October 2003 by Impulse Research, an independent firm based in Los Angeles. Written questionnaires were sent to CEOs at Fortune 1000 companies and their subsidiaries. CEOs at smaller companies were sampled through an Internet poll conducted by Impulse Research. The CEOs surveyed represent companies with revenues of less than $100 million (36%), $100 million to $1 billion (32%) and more than $1 billion (32%).

Complete survey results can be found at

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