Business online reputations that have gone bad do not beat down just revenues. Any CEO who heads a digitally disparaged business will sooner learn the discomfort of being equated with the company he or she runs, especially when Google search results do not really sieve name and company affiliations. In any case, a CEO ideally defends the company tooth and nail, but waging a war alone against the Internet is quixotic.
In a similar vein, CEOs usually have to keep their social media profiles in check for content that could be easily judged by the markets their companies are trying to attract. As the face of the business, CEOs have to earn the confidence of shareholders, important industry stakeholders, and even potential employees. In a sense, CEOs represent a brand. Or if the whole business was their brainchild, they ARE the brand.
So how does one continue to cultivate and build a brand that has been through the mud? It’s always better to start clean. And while some reputation management experts understand that everyone has a past, this does not excuse complacency towards an online cleanup job.
A simple personal indiscretion published on a social media platform can snowball into an irreversible case of failure of public confidence. Forbes knows that mistakes are precisely the grist media needs to put businesses on the headline. Even unsensational reporting aside, the media’s slants clue in investors on the businesses that are effectively run and managed.
There are CEOs who are forever infamous either for a previous faux pas or brushes with the law. Some, however, seem to have helped their descent to infamy by constant bad press arising from a carelessly handled interview and other antics. While Martha Stewart seems to have erased some public memories of her prison stint, she remains blotted in Google search results. It took her some years to rebuild her influence as a stylish homemaking empire, but one wonders how far she could have gone without her record.