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Social Media Means, For CEOs, There’s Nowhere Left To Hide

Social media amplifies the effect of PR mishaps, so CEOs must learn to deal with the fallout.

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Social media amplifies the effect of PR mishaps, so CEOs must learn to deal with the fallout.

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Social Media Means, For CEOs, There’s Nowhere Left To Hide

Social media amplifies the effect of PR mishaps, so CEOs must learn to deal with the fallout.

Share this article

It’s been a bad year for some CEOs in the public eye. But then again, can you think of a year in recent memory without scandal?

Think of the recent headlines United Airlines faced when they had security staff forcibly remove a man from one of their flights. The storm around this got so large, with their CEO only getting the apology right on the second attempt.

Elsewhere, Uber’s CEO has taken a leave of absence, following a damning report about Uber’s internal culture.

These stories are all over the news, but social media is the real source - a video from a fellow passenger, a blog or a leaked memo on Twitter.

If these incidents had happened, say, 15 years ago – would we have heard about them at all?

So what happened before social?

In a pre-digital world, brands and businesses would have received letters of complaint, as well as commendations, from their customers.

Many businesses would have had tried and tested processes to manage these, some undoubtedly more successful than others. If a customer was still not happy, it was very hard for them to be heard – they’d have to write to the press or the consumer association.

Pre-social media, brands became adept at managing their messaging and PR - rarely having to deal with the “everyman”, just the “experts” and the press.

Today, with the power of social media and video, each and every one of us has a voice; the ability to provide both positive and negative feedback at any time of the day via our smart-phones.

It’s now the time of the everyman. And it’s no surprise the water is getting hot for CEOs.

Brands need to realise that we have moved on from the days of message control and PR smoothing. Now is the time for authenticity. It’s the only way to get closer to the only people that matter - their customers and audience.

To do so takes courage.

Of course, it doesn't mean that brands and businesses will get everything right. But I’m not sure consumers expect that. Human beings are behind the brands, after all – and as such are imperfect. But maybe that’s what people want, as long as it comes with a side of honesty and transparency.

Richard Anson is the founder and former CEO of Reevoo.

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Social Media Means, For CEOs, There’s Nowhere Left To Hide

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