CEOs on the hot seat is a regular photo opp this month. The recent litany began with GM, Chrysler and Ford flying into DC on their private jets. Next came the Wall Street banks. Last month it was Massey Energy after the West Virginia mine disaster. Now it’s the turn of CEOs at BP, Halliburton and Transocean as the Gulf Coast oil spill dominates the headlines.
CEOs and how they embody their brands are being analyzed in many forums. One we liked was by Katie Paine in PR News: http://www.prnewsonline.com/news/13900.html (or scroll down to April 8 on this blog.)
Paine — a veteran of media research and measurement — has an excellent template for looking at “how did they do:”
• Extent of media coverage
• Effectiveness of spokespeople
• Communicating key messages to the media and public
• Managing negative messages
• Impact on stakeholders.
Obviously, none of the above have done too well. The facts have been bad and none of the CEOs have performed too well on the stand. We previously wrote about Massey CEO Don Blankenship: http://www.commcoreconsulting.com/Wordpress/ (or scroll down to April 8 on this blog.)
Here are CommCore’s points for Crisis Planning and Response that go beyond “how did we do?”:
• Advance planning for a crisis. BP Group CEO Tony Hayward has been effective as spokesperson for BP, stating a heartfelt mea culpa and appearing onsite on the Gulf Coast to promise economic relief. But corporate BP has been less effective in convincing Congress, the media and the public that it was prepared to properly respond to a rig explosion and oil spill crisis. Coverage of late has been as much about missed warnings and lack of contingency planning as it has been on the oil slick itself. As to Massey, Blankenship clearly failed to counter the company’s history of failing to address documented safety violations, lack of planning for disaster, and reported indifference to the danger to miners. At CommCore we tell our clients that crisis communications – even if substantial and convincingly delivered – are only as good as your actual advance crisis planning and response preparation. Honest ongoing crisis audits, risk assessment, and crisis simulation exercises are critical.
• Internal communications with employees, stock holders, partners and other corporate stakeholders. The CEO is the ship’s captain and Chief Morale Officer. Keeping your executive team and below-deck crews informed, engaged and on-message during a crisis is a crucial measure of CEO effectiveness and brand reputation.
• Follow-Through. A CEO’s word and words are only as effective as the extent to which he or she delivers on their promise. In these highly visible media exposed events we’ll be watching to see who delivers, who doesn’t, and what the reputation impact is on them as chief executives and the brands they represent.
What other items do you think should be included in a CEO scorecard? How do you rate the Massey and BP CEO and corporate performances from a reputation management standpoint?