Does the prospect of managing your CEO reputation make you sign in frustration or even wake up in a cold sweat?

No wonder. The scariest reputational nightmares came true for the chief executives of Uber, McDonald’s, Volkswagen, and others (they will pop up through the article).

💡 Read Brand Reputation 101: Monitoring, Analysis, and Management Tools

Reputation is like fragile glass. It is easy to break but hard to restore once damaged. In fact, it may take you four years or more to rebuild it.

But there may be no need to do that if you learn how to manage your online reputation as a CEO effectively.

This comprehensive guide is just what you need. It covers every aspect, from the best reputation management strategies for CEOs to the most typical mistakes shared by business founders and C-suite leaders.

Without further ado, let’s begin!

What Is CEO Reputation Management?

CEO or executive reputation management refers to shaping and controlling a positive public perception of the chief executive officer at the company.

It includes:

  • Auditing and analyzing the CEO’s image. You must perform reputation research and analyze your public image.
  • Forecasting and preventing risks. Here, you undertake certain measures to avoid reputational damage and its risks, such as loss of customer trust, employee turnover, loss of revenue, etc.
  • Repairing CEO’s brand damage. You need to repair your online reputation as a chief executive officer at this stage and clean it to a sparkling shine.
  • Enhancing the reputation. It implies steps and strategies for improving your CEO’s reputation management strategy.

The Importance of Executive Reputation Management

Explore why you should care about your reputation as a chief executive officer and why it matters not only for you, personally, but also for your employees, customers, stakeholders, and others who may be impacted by it.

CEO reputation affects employer branding and organizational culture.

Compare the following quotes from two employees.

 “Toxic workplace because of the CEO.”


“I love my job because of the CEO who WILL fight for our accessibility.”

The first is a review shared by an anonymous employee from Richpanel on Glassdoor. The second belongs to the employee at Purple Communications, who endorses Sherri Turpin, the CEO of the company, on LinkedIn. As in the first example, one will doubtfully attract top talent if the CEO’s image is associated with a toxic work environment.

As you can see, managing the CEO’s reputation means a lot for positioning your corporate culture and employer brand. In fact, 48% of a company’s prestige depends on the standing of its chief executive officer.

CEO reputation can help retain the top talent.

Along with attracting employees, a good CEO reputation can also make them loyal. A talented employee would want to work for an authoritative and inspiring leader.

Here are some stats for your consideration. A solid executive reputation retains 70% of employees.

In the case of OpenAI, the executive reputation literally helped keep over 95% of workers. If you don’t remember the situation with Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, leaving and rejoining the company, here it goes. After Altman was fired by the board, more than 730 of the company’s employees signed a letter saying they would quit and join their CEO unless the board reappointed him. Sam Altman was rehired as Chief Executive Officer at OpenAI in roughly four days.

CEO reputation drives consumer perceptions.

Did you know?

CEOs’ reputations affect the opinions about companies for 66% of consumers (two-thirds!).

So, if you don’t manage your CEO’s reputation well, you may risk losing your customers.

That’s what happened to Dis-Chem. Some clients left after the leakage of the CEO’s letter, which banned hiring white workers. Not to mention that the company’s share price dropped by 18.1%, resulting in R5.21 billion losses.

And vice versa – a positive CEO reputation can increase customer retention.

CEO reputation defines a company’s financial success.

“The CEO’s brand image is a predictor of financial characteristics of an organization,” claims Jim Pendergast, Senior Vice President at altLINE Sobanco. “A startup may fail without even starting due to the bad reputation of its CEO. It may scare away potential investors and shareholders. Then, executives’ words and actions often predetermine economic paths businesses take: either up or down,” he explains.

Wells Fargo’s case is one of the famous examples of damaged corporate reputation and financial loss in the banking industry. Not without the involvement of John Stumpf, the CEO, who was aware of fake bank accounts. The bank had to pay a $3 billion settlement.

Or let’s take the example of Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, and his tweets that move markets. For instance, once Musk tweeted, “Tesla stock price is too high,” Tesla lost roughly $13 billion in market value.

Note: Global leaders attribute 44% of their company’s market value to the reputations of their chief executive officers.

Read How to Use SEO for Reputation Management

How to Manage Your Online Reputation as a CEO

Copy and save the following principles and tips on successful reputation management for executives.

Establish the backbone of your reputation

What forms your CEO brand?

For Robert Kaskel, Chief People Officer at Checkr, it’s the vision, mission, and values. He says, “Being an executive manager, you should establish yourself as an industry influencer and thought leader and deliver your unique vision, mission, and values to the public. This trio makes a skeleton for further CEO reputation management. It helps you champion a trustworthy voice of your executive brand and narrate it to the audience.”

Kaskel advises to use the following channels to do that:

  • TV news
  • Social media
  • Webinars
  • Podcasts
  • Online platforms like Reddit, Quora, etc.

For example, Daniel Yanisse, CEO at Checkr, has a brand positioning statement with a mission of “building a fair and people-centered future of work.” He delivers it via all possible channels, particularly podcasts and webinars.

Checkr managing CEO reputatio with hosting coffee breaks at Berkeley
Screenshot from UC Berkeley School of Law

Strive for openness and transparency in communications

81% of executives agree that every CEO must have a visible public profile.

Most likely, you have already built your profile on the company’s website and optimized your social media accounts, haven’t you?

But how about transparent and open communication?

It is one of the CEO’s best reputation management practices.

“Committing to transparency in conversations is crucial when managing your CEO reputation. Whether you communicate with media outlets, employees, or customers, honesty matters greatly for perceiving your CEO’s brand as authentic and trustworthy,” says Stephan Baldwin, Founder of Assisted Living.

Stephan Baldwin is always frank and open during interviews. Besides successes, he is never afraid to acknowledge failures and challenges in the senior living industry faced by his company.

Assisted Living does CEO reputation management by always staying frank and open
Screenshot from StepbyStepBusiness

Align personal branding and values with your company

A chief executive officer is the face of a brand and its major ambassador. That is why the CEO’s personal brand and moral code should coincide with the company’s.

The three major elements for such an alignment to work are:

Any of those can either improve or completely ruin your CEO’s reputation (and your corporate reputation).

Read How to Check a Company’s Reputation

If your actions don’t align with your brand’s ethics and values, you’ll instantly lose the audience’s trust and confidence in your company.

Take the McDonald’s CEO, Stephen Easterbrook, who violated the company’s policy by engaging in an intimate consensual relationship with one of the workers.

But it can be worse. While companies boast their commitment to DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), their CEOs often overstep the boundaries of women’s rights and violate those rights. You can find tons of cases with chief executives accused of sexual harassment at work. To name a few:

  • Leslie Moonves, CEO of CBS
  • Miki Agrawal, CEO of Thinx
  • Josh Rathour, CEO of UniDAYS
  • Nick Caporella, CEO of National Beverage Corporation
  • Alfredo Calderon, CEO of ASPIRA

Google yourself and monitor media regularly

Go to and type your name in the search bar right now.

Scroll through the first pages and check how you appear in the search results.

However, “It’s not enough just to google your name to audit and manage your reputation as a CEO effectively,” notes Puneet Gogia, Founder at Excel Champs. “You should also monitor media, track your name mentions, and draw the general sentiment score across all channels,” he advises.

For example, from the social media post below, you can notice the positive sentiment through the words “grateful” and “happiness” alongside Puneet Gogia’s name.

Screenshot from LinkedIn

💡 Read Media Tracking VS Googling: What Gives Better Results?

Media monitoring tools like Determ, Awario, or Mention can do the math instead of you by analyzing CEO reputation on the following media portals:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter (now X)
  • Reddit
  • Forums
  • Websites
  • YouTube, etc.

For example, Determ lets you analyze all sources at once or filter your search to narrow your query by location, language, digital channel, etc.

CEO Reputation management tool Determ
Screenshot from Determ

Determ also reveals the positive/negative sentiment ratio and the prevalent reactions and emotions toward your CEO brand.

Sentiment and reputation management tool Determ

Mind: If negative comments prevail, it may be a warning sign you’re on the cliff’s edge of a reputational disaster. And you should act immediately.

Get ready to handle a reputation crisis

It would be better to thoroughly prepare for CEO reputation crisis management and be on the button when the stormy weather strikes.

“Don’t expect the storm to subside by itself, and, more importantly, don’t handle it alone,” recommends Tom Golubovich, Head of Marketing & Media Relations at Ninja Transfers. “A wiser decision would be to hire a PR person or agency and assemble a crisis management team to help you manage CEO reputation amid the catastrophe.”

After gathering a group of people for assistance, your next steps are as follows:

  • Analyze the issue and collect facts
  • Inform investors, customers, employees, and all the stakeholders
  • Prepare a social media response plan
  • React as quickly as possible to rectify the situation
  • Monitor social media and address negative comments and complaints

Track how far the negative coverage spreads, capture spikes in sentiment, and handle your crisis communication like a pro with Determ.

Crisis and reputation management tool Determ

Spike alerts for growth in mentions in Determ

Top 3 Mistakes in CEO Reputation Management

Let’s discuss the false moves to avoid if you want to maintain a good CEO reputation.

Mistake #1. Hiding in your shell and bypassing social media interactions

What if I say or type something wrong? I’d rather keep silent on social media and protect my reputation this way.

If you think you can hide away and avoid social media mistakes through the small hole in your happy place, forget about it. That’s not happening.

Instead, upgrade your social media presence.

As Stephen R. Hasner, Managing Partner at Hasner Law PC, points out, “The power of social networking can help you demonstrate your authentic self and improve your CEO reputation. One key thing to remember is to follow the rules and laws of social networks and learn how to use hashtags, acronyms, and emojis.”

For example, Stephen Hasner effectively engages with the audience on social media by organizing giveaways on Facebook, using trendy hashtags on Instagram, or sharing legal humor, POVs, and memes about lawyers on TikTok.

Social networking as a method of managing ceo's reputation
Screenshot from TikTok

Mistake #2. Causing havoc with an emotional response

“If you want to manage your reputation as a CEO properly, you should first learn to manage your emotions,” notes Brooke Webber, Head of Marketing at Ninja Patches. “We, as humans, are emotional. That is true. But once they get out of control, they destroy everything on their way, erasing the CEO’s reputation.”

And some cases prove that very well.

For example:

An emotional outburst from Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, who argued with the taxi driver, provoked a backlash on social media. Eventually, Kalanick apologized, adding, “I need leadership help, and I intend to get it.”

Mistake #3. Rejecting responsibility and liability for wrongdoings

By doing so, you can dig yourself an even deeper grave and bury your CEO reputation altogether.

Heed the call from Andrew Pierce, CEO at LLC Attorney. He says, “If you know you’re liable for something, you should acknowledge your fault immediately. As a chief executive officer, you can be legally responsible for an accident at work or an employee’s negligent behavior toward others, whether colleagues or strangers. CEOs may also be held liable for non-compliant or illegal company activities even being unaware of those.”

Let’s recall one of the corporate crisis examples, the Volkswagen (VW) emissions scandal, christened as Dieselgate because of VW cheating on their diesel emissions tests.

As CEO, I accept responsibility for the irregularities. I am doing this in the interests of the company even though I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part.

These words belong to Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen, after it happened. It cost the corporation over $39 billion in fines, while Winterkorn resigned. However, after seven years of trials, the situation remains unresolved. The ex-CEO sticks to the denial of his part in the diesel scandal, and hearings are still to come.

Over to Your Reputation

Anticipating your question: Yes, your executive’s reputation can and will shine spotlessly if only you manage it correctly.

Let this guide serve you as a manual to master CEO reputation. And let Determ replenish your toolbox. Once you leverage Determ, you’ll be able to monitor your CEO’s brand in real time, detect brewing crises before it is too late, and cultivate an unbreakable reputation you can be proud of.

See what this tool can do and test it out for free.

Skip to content