The Wall Street Journal has published an interview with Shannon Wilkinson, our founder and CEO. Here are highlights from the article, CEOs Face Reputation Pitfalls If They Avoid Social Media:
What are a few of the most common mistakes CEOs and top executives make that can lead to reputation damage to them and their organizations?
Ms. Wilkinson: Many CEOs…they don’t own a lot of real estate in their name online, and they have not been proactive in creating a strategy to publish information about them on the Internet. When that happens the world creates your profile online, or Internet bots do. Whatever information third parties publish about you–whether credible or not, whether quality or not–will fill out the top pages of the Google search in your name and you have no control over that. The longer that stays the more difficult it is to replace it with more relevant information.
Are these the same issues they were dealing with a few years ago? How has the reputation risk landscape changed?
Ms. Wilkinson: The reputation risk landscape has gone through three developments. The first, which CEOs noticed around 2005, was the first wave of proliferation of anonymous malicious commentary that appeared widely on the Internet and was often directed toward companies, toward CEOs. The second wave was the proliferation of consumer reviews online, particularly geared toward customer service and complaints. The third phase we’re in now is the lack of privacy online, the continual spills of confidential in-house memos and emails, and of course the hacking.
What are some best practices executives and organizations can take to make it less likely they will fall victim to reputation slip-ups?
Ms. Wilkinson: The first is to look at the company’s internal culture. A lot of negativity comes from employees so it’s a good time to look inside at the opportunities employees have, and to look at diversity and inclusion, particularly providing women with opportunities. This is really the hot seat CEOs face now. This is going to be an issue for every company—employees, consumers are looking at how equitable companies are at providing opportunities for women, minorities, the LGBT group.
What makes top executives susceptible to engaging on social media in a way that can cause them reputation headaches?
Ms. Wilkinson: Some lack an understanding of how many people use social media and how they use it. I think most CEOs don’t encounter issues because of what they say on social media, it’s what is said on social media in response to their actions, that is the bigger threat. They’re so scrutinized and it’s so easy for a comment to be taken out of context.