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Should an organisation devote communication dollars to making the CEO famous?

Author(s): Christel Bruijns

Journal: PRism Online PR Journal
ISSN 1448-4404

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2003;
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Keywords: public relations | CEOs | corporate reputation | organization | organisation

Hutton, Goodman, Alexander, and Genest (2001) argue that “the most reputable or admired companies” tend to have well-known CEOs (p. 247). Hutton et al. (2001) cite “studies by Fortune, the Financial Times and many other publications and research organizations”, plus give Microsoft, AOL, Southwest Airlines, General Electric, Berkshire Hathaway, and Intel as cases in support of their argument. If making an organisation’s CEO a celebrity drives reputation, an interesting question is whether an organisation should devote substantial communication dollars to making the CEO famous. Recent high-profile CEO disgraces would suggest that CEO fame is a double-edged sword. This article explores industry-based and anecdotal evidence of the benefits and risks associated with a high-profile CEO, and outlines an area for further research. To date, although there is some industry research on this topic, it appears to have been paid scant academic attention. This article is a preliminary exploration of ideas, and the author welcomes feedback and discussion on the best ways to test whether the frequent perception of a correlation between CEO profile, corporate reputation, and corporate performance is accurate, and/or whether and how the relationships may be causal.
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