4 Considerations for Managing Executive Reputations

Corporate SecurityExecutive Protection

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Due to the non-stop and wide-reaching nature of the Internet, the digital lives of executives have become a key component of enterprise security. What executives say or don’t say, what others are saying about them, where they are saying it, and to whom increasingly makes or breaks reputations. Protecting the digital footprint of key executives across the public attack surface against false narratives and brand-damaging content is critical to avoiding loss of customer trust, physical harm, and revenue loss.

1. Executives’ reputations are a key contributor to the organization’s reputation and bottom line.

Online threats toward executives not only jeopardize them individually but also the organization as a whole. Because they are often the face of the company, both public opinion and profitability may depend on the perception of shareholders and customers. Weber Shandwick found that 45% of the company’s reputation and 44% of the company’s market value were connected to the CEO’s reputation. By addressing risks across the public attack surface now, organizations can avoid being blindsided by risks towards executives and other corporate assets in the future. This awareness goes a long way to prove an organization has taken as many preventative measures as possible. 

2. Managing the executive’s reputation is a long game.

While a single post usually isn’t harmful, the consistency of reputationally damaging posts over time can have a harmful effect on an executive’s reputation. Security teams must understand what’s being said with consideration of what that means downstream. Establishing a baseline of what’s ‘normal’ for your executives online makes it easy to identify changes in negative sentiment. Keeping abreast of the type of content and channels that have caused problems in the past is key to understanding what might cause problems in the future. With a better understanding of the online sentiment towards executives, security teams can adjust their own practices if need be and not worry about reputationally damaging content unless it escalates. If one day you wake up to thousands of posts on the same topic, you are already aware of the problem and have proactively identified steps to take.

3. The executive is in charge of their reputation.

Executives are not often trained to be vigilant about their online behavior or that of their families. Despite that, there are very few times a security team can override an executive. It’s not about telling them how to live their life or what they can or cannot post. It’s more about being aware of the information that is out there, knowing what’s being said about it, and helping executives live safely and securely. If your team is not able to stay on top of information and opinions executives are putting out into the world then you’re set up to fail.

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4. You cannot control what people post.

There is not a lot you can overtly do in terms of controlling what the general public posts. If the content has been posted on social media, a review website, blog, or forum, you can challenge the content that contradicts the platform’s guidelines and contact the site directly. Google and Bing also have tools available for reporting inappropriate content. 

Generally speaking, conspiracy groups and ideological groups are not broadcasting their narratives to the world on these platforms. They are instead having conversations in their small networks that make it even more difficult to remove harmful content. Again, the focus should be on gaining awareness of the risk exposure around what is being said about executives and where it’s being said – whether that be a slew of negative social media posts or reputationally damaging dark web discussions.

Managing Executive Reputations with Media Sonar

Media Sonar helps to protect brand-critical assets across digital channels where reputationally damaging risks can occur.  With Media Sonar, capture, enrich, and store digital identifiers of executives. Apply pre-built or customized queries across news sites, blogs, social media, and the deep and dark web to identify reputational risks towards executives. Save time detecting and managing reputational risks to focus on decision making and remediation.

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