I see them all the time.
They are CEOs content to remain anonymous, stay in the background, and generally avoid all publicity like the plague.
When I ask why they've chosen this path, the typical answers include:
"I'm uncomfortable in the spotlight."
"I hate to look like an egoist."
"I've built a successful business without any publicity, so why do I need it now?"
These CEOs are well intentioned, often humble people. The only problem is their choice to remain in the background can be extremely damaging to their business.
What they are missing out on is the "CEO Premium." The CEO Premium consists of all of the advantages gained when a CEO presents a positive and very public image.
How does one go about achieving the CEO Premium?
It is achieved through the execution of a highly strategic and systematic program designed to raise awareness of the CEO as a thought leader, innovator and as a person with a clear vision.
This process usually begins with the creation and publication of quality content- blogs, guest articles, Op-ed pieces and videos and is then expanded through media outreach, speaking engagements and public service, community involvement and philanthropy.
For many CEOs, this now also means developing a strong voice and following in social media.
As the CEO's individual brand is shaped and enhanced, a powerful umbrella effect serves to enhance the value of the CEO's business.
The benefits to the business include:
Online Reputation Management: If you are not actively creating content or generating coverage, then you are putting your personal reputation and your business' reputation in the hands of others.
When potential clients/customers Google you (and they will!), what will they find?
If you have written articles, created videos and have appeared as an expert in the press, people searching for you will see results that build confidence in you and your company. If you have failed to create a digital footprint, then they will either find nothing (which doesn't do much to build confidence) or they will find negatives generated by others... including your competitors.
Employee Satisfaction and Retention: Having a CEO who is looked upon as an expert in his/her field has a positive impact on employee morale. The positive image of the CEO rubs off on every person who works for such a CEO. In the most basic terms, it provides bragging rights.
Hiring and Recruiting: It is human nature to want to work for a company whose CEO is well known and respected in the business world. When the company is actively recruiting a candidate, articles by and about the CEO can be used as a powerful selling point. Similarly, candidates will be Googling the company (see above) and their decision of whether or not to work for your company can be shaped by what they see online.
The Company Website: Current and potential clients and customers will be visiting your website and scrutinizing it carefully. If you have a "News," "Press," or "In the Media" page and it is well populated by articles and Op-Eds in reputable media, it creates the impression that yours is not just a legitimate business, but an elite one.
Social Media: If your company is actively engaged in social media (and it should be), then any of the kinds of content described above will provide a steady stream of content that can be linked to on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Investor Relations: The value of a company's stock is often directly tied to how a CEO is perceived by the investment community. A high-profile CEO, one perceived as a thought leader and innovator, can enhance much more than just the perception of the company- it can add directly to the company's value.