Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Who Tells The CEO He Can't Be The Spokesman In A Crisis?

A recent study raises a question about whether the CEO is a good or bad choice as spokesperson in a crisis.

To begin with, the Institute for Crisis Management has always pleaded with clients to identify spokespersons other than the CEO.  The CEO of any company in a crisis has more on his/her plate than any one person should be expected to manage and being the on-going spokesperson is almost a full-time job in itself.

Plus, if the CEO misspeaks, there is no one left who can step in and fix it!

There IS a place and carefully controlled situation when the CEO must step up and speak for the company, but not in an on-going spokesperson role.

But, if you won’t take our advice consider the new survey from the Public Affairs Council and conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International.

The latest survey of public opinion about the honesty and ethics of business leaders and lower level employees turns that whole thing upside down.  The lower an employee is in the chain of command the higher he or she is considered as honest and ethical.

86-percent of Americans found non-managers ranked average or highly honest and ethical, while the same survey found only 50-percent of Americans rate the honesty and ethics of CEOs as average or high.

So, if you put the CEO out front in a crisis, you are starting at a 50-50 disadvantage with key audiences already doubting that spokesperson’s credibility.

It’s not hard to understand the results of the survey.  Most people don’t live like a CEO and most don’t even know a CEO in person.  However, they CAN identify with the “working man and woman.” They believe that people like themselves are honest and ethical like they are.

But that same survey found another reason why CEO’s are held in such low esteem – outlandish pay and bonuses.  Even if the company is doing well, Americans do not like executive bonuses. And when times are bad, 87 percent oppose bonuses for top management. 

No comments:

Post a Comment